Freedom Caucus, Kevin McCarthy and the Speaker Circus

Last week everybody was going nuts because about 20 House Republicans refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.  They were called all kinds of names by all kinds of people who demanded that McCarthy be voted in RIGHT DAMNED NOW! so the newly elected Congress could begin their work  These 20 House members dug in their heels and prevented McCarthy from getting the necessary majority for three days.

They were widely regarded as irresponsible, unpatriotic, traitors to the Republican Party, even terrorists (Dan Crenshaw, RINO from Texas later apologized for the latter; well, we have come to know who he really is).  Because the Republican majority in the House is so slender (though not as slender as was the Democrat majority in the previous Congress) McCarthy needed most of those votes.  There was even a fear that some Republicans would defect and vote for the Democrat candidate Hakeem Jeffries, or that McCarthy would persuade some Democrats to vote for him, both ridiculous ideas.

Over the course of the last couple of decades many Republican elected officials have been recognized as RINOs, Republicans In Name Only, because of their consistent surrender to Democrat initiatives, failure to vigorously pursue Republican policies and tendency to cut the legs out from under Republicans with stronger commitments to actual Republican principles.  Every election cycle these RINOs promise that they will do better next time, get elected on the basis of those promises and disappoint once again.  Its Lucy and the football over and over again.

In the ballyhoo surrounding the choosing of the House Speaker the emphasis was on the failure of these Representatives to support the Republican majority in the House.  But that overlooks one overriding, all important truth: people are not elected to Congress to represent their party, they are elected to represent the voters in their districts.  That, and that alone, is their job.

What these 20 (ultimately whittled down to 6 – note who has spine in this group) newly elected Representatives did was, for the first time since Newt Gingrich was Speaker, stand against all comers in support of their constituents.  In the end 14 of these caved to the majority and voted for McCarthy, which even so was not enough to give him the majority.  It wasn’t until the six voted Present that McCarthy received a majority of the votes cast and was elected Speaker.

It is worth noting that at no time did any of the final six ever cast a vote for McCarthy and thus are in no way allied with him.

But it came at a price the Uniparty did not want to pay, but they had to.  The Freedom Caucus extracted heavy concessions from McCarthy on the House Rules  From CNN (spit!):

  • Any member can call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair
  • A McCarthy-aligned super-PAC (the Congressional Leadership Fund) agreed to not spend in open Republican primaries in safe seats
  • The House will hold votes on key conservative bills, including a balanced budget amendment, congressional term limits, and border security
  • Efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling must be paired with spending cuts
  • Move 12 appropriations bills individually, instead of passing separate bills to fund government operations
  • More Freedom Caucus representation on committees, including the influential House Rules Committee
  • Cap discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, which would amount to lower levels for defense and domestic programs
  • 72 hours to review bills before they come to floor
  • Give members the ability to offer more amendments on the House floor
  • Create an investigative committee to probe the “weaponization” of the federal government
  • Restore the Holman rule, which can be used to reduce the salary of government officials

These are all supportive of the Conservative voters who they are supposed to represent.  There is much more that can be said about these concessions, but your Irascible Correspondent will make only this observation:

The Republicans, including RINOs, have been put on notice that should they attempt to disregard these agreements the members of the Freedom Caucus will lock the legislative process up.  This will have the effect of bringing the behavior of RINOs and weak kneed Republicans to the attention of the much more aware and engaged voters of their respective districts.  They absolutely don’t want the attention, the scrutiny and the blow-back from the electorate.  They want to go along to get along not only with the more aggressive Democrats in the House, but with their voters as well.  Up till now most House members thought that their most important job was getting re-elected.  Now they know better.

This is a good thing.

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