Where Was Cathy?
“Our” Representative in the U.S. House
Three days ago, in the wee hours of last Saturday morning, the fractious Republican majority (by a margin of five) in the U.S. House of Representatives finally elected Kevin McCarthy Speaker of the House—on the fifteenth ballot. It was a spectacle the like of which has not been seen since the House majority was divided by the issue of slavery in 1855.
And a spectacle it was. Kevin McCarthy essentially abdicated decision-making to a rabid minority of Republicans in order to become the Speaker of the House (and the second in line for the presidency after the VP).
To finally gather enough votes McCarthy made multiple concessions to fringe right Representatives Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and four others—not to finally garner a YES vote from them—but just to get them to vote “PRESENT” and thereby lower the number required. (For details on the 15 votes click here.)
What did he give up? For that, the best I’ve found comes from Tyler Durden writing on the web at ZeroHedge. Durden acquired the information second hand from Roger L. Simon, the perennial right wing opinion writer for the Epoch Times. Simon apparently got it in writing from a freshman Republican congressman. (Concessions like this aren’t usually made public—it’s too embarrassing.)
Here they are quoted from ZeroHedge:
As has been reported, it will only take a single congressperson, acting in what is known as a Jeffersonian Motion, to move to remove the Speaker if he or she goes back on their word or policy agenda.
A “Church” style committee will be convened to look into the weaponization of the FBI and other government organizations (presumably the CIA, the subject of the original Church Committee) against the American people. [The original Church Committee, led by Senator Frank Church (D-ID), investigated abuses by U.S. Intelligence agencies, particularly the NSA and the CIA in the 1970s.]
Term limits will be put up for a vote.
Bills presented to Congress will be single subject, not omnibus with all the attendant earmarks, and there will be a 72-hour minimum period to read them.
The Texas Border Plan will be put before Congress. From The Hill: “The four-pronged plan aims to ‘Complete Physical Border Infrastructure,’ ‘Fix Border Enforcement Policies,’ ‘Enforce our Laws in the Interior’ and ‘Target Cartels & Criminal Organizations.'”
COVID mandates will be ended as will all funding for them, including so-called “emergency funding.”
Budget bills would stop the endless increases in the debt ceiling and hold the Senate accountable for the same.
Of course, points one through six will form the basis for political performance, since none of this (for the next two years) has a chance of producing legislation that could pass in the Senate. However, the United States government, as a whole, is still dependent on the U.S. House of Representatives to appropriate funds and raise the debt ceiling so that the government can continue to function. (See Origination Clause, Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution.)
Since 1995 Republican majorities in the House have precipitated a debt ceiling crisis four times, holding the government hostage by threatening to trash the credit rating of the country if their conditions aren’t met. (See here for an excellent summary of the debt ceiling, its history, and how it has been used.) In 2011 Tea Party Republicans precipitated a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating with this tactic. The current House Republican majority is an even more extreme direct descendant of these Republicans.
It should have escaped no one that Kevin McCarthy’s rise to Speaker occurred just hours after the second anniversary of the Trumpian insurrection of January 6th, 2021. In an interview following the 15th vote, McCarthy profusely thanked “President Trump” (notably not “former President Trump”) for his help in corralling the necessary votes from House Republicans. The new Speaker of the House performed obeisance to the man who tried, by force, to trash the peaceful transfer of power. Remarkable.
What was Cathy McMorris Rodgers’, “our” U.S. Representative to the U.S. House from Congressional District 5 (CD5), eastern Washington, role in all this?
On Saturday morning the Spokesman carried an article entitled “Northwest lawmakers reflect on second anniversary of Jan. 6 Capitol riot”. I searched in vain for a comment from McMorris Rodgers concerning the insurrection put in motion by the man she had called her “positive disruptor”, Donald Trump. I expect that if she had to comment it would have been along these lines:
[U.S.] Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, said he didn’t see any connection between the mob that besieged the Capitol and the group of hard-right Republicans who have blocked McCarthy from the position he had long coveted.
Let’s move on, nothing to see here. What horse manure. McCarthy’s obeisance to Trump after the vote is a glaring reminder that House Republicans are still carrying water for the man responsible for January 6th.
McMorris Rodgers voted fifteen times in a row for Kevin McCarthy, wishing, no doubt, to avoid last week’s blatant reminder what the Republican Party has become. A haggard-looking McMorris Rodgers appeared in this clip from a Washington Post video that features Jim Jordan. Right after this clip she shakes her head in apparent disgust.
Always remember, though, that McMorris Rodgers is the consummate Republican Party team player, almost never deviating from the prescribed vote. I think it is safe to assume that when a debt ceiling vote comes up later in 2023 that she will (quietly) vote with the Republican block to hold the government hostage as Republicans did in 2011. She will cast that vote hoping that centrist and independent voters won’t notice. If that happens it will be our job to watch closely, explain what she and her party are doing, and hold her feet to the fire.
Her only public comment after the s__tshow over the Speakership? Widely reported (flagged by Google Alerts):
"These concessions have been agreed to by our conference, and ultimately I believe it’s going to lead to a more people-driven legislative process," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). "It’s about restoring more power and decision making to the members."
All in for Team Trump—don’t look back at January 6th—nothing to see there.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. In a great opinion piece in the Washington Post Dana Milbank cataloged some of what was happening on the House floor during over this crazy week of McCarthy’s self-debasement in pursuit of the Speakership:
This week, Republicans referred to one another as the “Taliban” and “terrorists” and “hostage takers.” They traded obscenities in a caucus meeting. One of the anti-McCarthy Republicans, Matt Gaetz of Florida, publicly called McCarthy a “squatter” for prematurely occupying the speaker’s Capitol office.
In an appalling scene on the House floor Friday night, Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the incoming chairman of the Armed Services committee, lunged at holdout Gaetz and had to be pulled away.
There was only one upside to the anarchy: The government no longer controlled the TV cameras in the House chamber. Americans at home could watch leaders huddling with rebels, far-right Gaetz conferring with far-left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and the serial fabricator Santos sitting alone, discreetly picking his nose.
Gaetz referred to McCarthy as “someone who has sold shares of themselves for more than a decade” to get the job.
The holdouts had been given essentially everything they had asked for — and still, the extremists demanded more. “A deal is NOT done,” Perry, head of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted Thursday afternoon.
“Somebody should check and make sure Kevin McCarthy still has two kidneys,” Adam Smith (Wash.), top Democrat on the Armed Services committee, quipped Friday.
By Friday evening, the rebels could hardly believe the breadth of McCarthy’s capitulation. “We’re running out of things to ask for,” Gaetz marveled.
McCathy, during 14 separate votes, was blocked from gathering a majority of those voting by as many as twenty votes of his Republican colleagues.
The one thing McCarthy didn’t try? Negotiating with Democrats. They could easily have given him the votes he needs to become speaker, in exchange for concessions. But bipartisanship is a nonstarter in McCarthy’s caucus.
Rather than negotiating with Democrats and exhibiting the bipartisanship to which a few Republicans still pay occasional lip service, McCarthy caved in to the demands of the farthest right of the Republican Party, people who, by and large, openly supported the January 6th insurrection, people who would happily hamstring the federal government rather than legislate.