October 10, 2015
Well, things just got stranger. First John Boehner and now Kevin McCarthy. It seems like no one wants to be Speaker of the House. Just minutes before the Republicans were supposed to vote for their nominee to be Speaker of the House, McCarthy pulled out. The Huffington Post had a good article about the event.
No one doubted that he would win the nomination. And since the Republicans are in the majority, that means he would have won over whatever Democratic candidate was selected and become the Speaker.
Apparently he needed 218 votes to beat the Democrats and felt that he couldn’t get that many because of the hard conservatives in the Republican Party. This doesn’t make a lot of sense because they weren’t likely to vote in favor of a Democrat.
He actually ceded the point while talking to reporters afterwards. He knew he could win, but he felt that it would be stronger if the Republican Party had a candidate that could get a unanimous vote from the Republicans. Get a vote for all 247 of them. He felt that maybe a new face was needed that everyone could unite behind.
There are 25 conservative members who have blocked legislation or altered legislation that Boehner wanted. Because of House rule changes and the fact that there are no longer earmarks, the Speaker and leaders of the ruling party no longer have as much influence. One of the conservative block felt that McCarthy’s decision was seat of the pants and was typical of the way the old guard was running things, with no long term planning.
In Europe, the parliaments cobble together coalitions. If a right party and a far right party can’t work together, then the right party might work with another party that was in the center. This is happening somewhat in Congress. The only reason that the government didn’t shut down recently was that Boehner got votes from Democrats. He couldn’t get enough from his own party to keep the government operating.
Moderate Republicans see that it is likely that they will need to make more alliances with the Democrats. This may even include electing the next Speaker of the House.
Does that mean that the conservatives shot themselves in the foot and they might end up with a more liberal Leader than McCarthy? McCarthy is pretty conservative and helped get a lot of these renegades elected. So it is a very odd situation.
McCarthy will continue as House Leader which is the number two position in Congress. He also gave as an influencing factor in his decision, his comments about the Benghazi investigating committee and Hillary Clinton. He commended them for hurting Clinton politically and later said he could have said it much better. However, he has been getting heat for the comments.
The conservatives feel this is a great things an opens things up. They also feel that because their candidate, Daniel Webster, had played spoiler that this made him now the front runner. This despite the fact that this hard conservative group makes up a small percentage of all the Republicans in Congress. We shall see.