One thing I like about this New York Times piece on Republican Party disarray by Lisa Lerer and Michael C. Bender is that at no point do they try to blame the Democrats for the GOP’s problems. Two weeks ago, there was a widespread sense that Hakeem Jeffries ought to help the Republicans elect a Speaker without receiving anything in return. That idea seems to have withered on the vine. Even the Republicans are forgetting that talking point. It’s a relief, because it was always a ludicrous concept.
Brendan and I recorded the fifth episode of the Progress Pondcast last night. It will be available as soon as we’re doing with the edits. We’ve both been suffering from bad colds and I think the situation in Israel made it difficult to think about anything else, but we finally got it together to discuss the failure of the House Republicans to elect a Speaker. Make sure to tune in to get our take on what has transpired and where we might be headed.
Without getting into all that, I’ll just say here that this remains a problem best understood by the House Republicans’ inability to perform its two fundamental responsibilities as the majority party: to pay our debts on time and to pass government appropriations bills. Kevin McCarthy was only able to do those two things with heavy support from House Democrats, and that will remain true for any future Speaker. This means the functional majority in the House is not only bipartisan but strongly tilted to the left, and logically this group should have majorities on committees, including the all-important Rules Committee that controls the flow of legislation to the floor.
If the next Speaker is elected with Democratic votes, the Democrats need this kind of arrangement. If the next Speaker is a Republican elected with only Republican votes, they will not be able to keep the government funded and operational unless they repeat the sin that cost McCarthy his speakership.
This was the scenario I foresaw last December after I saw that the red wave did not arrive in the midterm elections, and it has an iron logic that is inescapable.