The GOP’s deep rifts are causing serious problems now that Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has dropped out of the race to become House Speaker. The House needs someone who can get 218 votes, and thus far, they’re having serious problems finding that person. They were hoping that Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan would be that person, but Ryan keeps saying he’s not interested.
The GOP is facing the horrible possibility that they may have to (gasp!) seek help from the Democrats!
218 votes is the number of votes a leader needs from the full House, and the full House has to vote in a new Speaker. According to The Huffington Post, McCarthy likely wouldn’t have been able to garner that many votes from just the Republicans alone. He’s too moderate for their radical Freedom Caucus. Those people want a hardliner in place, so they can better push their far-right agenda on the American people.
So now, to get any possible candidate to 218, they need help from House Democrats. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for them, since even under Boehner, the House wouldn’t seek help from the Democrats unless they were desperate. As long as the Republicans had a majority, some seemed to think that they didn’t need Democrats.
As HuffPo notes, they did need Democrats to reauthorize the Import-Export Bank, and in 2013, they needed Democratic votes to reopen the government after a 16-day shutdown. If the radicals won’t fall in line on the vote for Speaker, the GOP will need Democrats to fill that hole.
However, the radicals are also working on weakening the clout of the Speaker, according to The New York Times. This would reverse a 40-year trend of increased power to the House’s leadership, which accelerated sharply under Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. They want a more bottom-up structure, which includes stripping power from the Speaker to run the steering committee.
This could be partly retaliation for the way Boehner removed many of the Tea Partiers from leadership positions more than two years ago. That move was viewed as a purge, and petty on Boehner’s part, but it’s really hard to ignore the fact that, the more power these people have, the less Congress is able to get done.
It’s not necessarily a good thing for the Speaker to have as much power as he or she does, but to find ways to give it to the radicals could make things worse, not better. The radical factions would have even less incentive to work with the opposition than they already do. We need them out of Congress altogether, but that won’t happen at least until districts are redrawn to be more competitive (which is another story entirely).
If the GOP needs help from Democrats to elect a Speaker, then they’re going to be forced to elect someone who isn’t likely to cave to the radicals. They’re going to be forced to elect someone Democrats can tolerate.
The implosion Boehner caused when he announced his resignation, which accelerated when McCarthy withdrew his name from consideration, is getting much bigger.
The GOP is in complete disarray. The Tea Party radicals are in the process of destroying them because they’re delusional, inflexible fools — and not at all interested in fixing problems or coming together.
In other words, the Republican Party is screwed. Thanks, Tea Party!