The Other McCain

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FINALLY: McCarthy Becomes Speaker

Posted on | January 7, 2023 | Comments Off on FINALLY: McCarthy Becomes Speaker

What is normally a pro forma exercise on the first day of the new Congress instead dragged on for four days before reaching its final conclusion in the wee hours of the night:

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected House speaker after midnight Saturday on the 15th round of voting, marking the conclusion of an intense week of negotiations with Republican defectors and a dramatic Friday night packed with tension and a physical altercation.
McCarthy received 216 votes, House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) received 212 votes, and six Republican members voted “present.”
No speaker race had lasted 15 rounds or more in 163 years, according to House records. The last race to take more than one ballot occurred in 1923, when reelecting then-Speaker Frederick Gillett took nine ballots.
The roughly 20 members who had been voting against McCarthy throughout the week — many of whom are in the House Freedom Caucus — sought various structural changes to the House and other commitments from the leader, aiming to shift power away from leadership and to rank-and-file members and Freedom Caucus members specifically.
Their asks included, among many items, bringing the motion to vacate down to a one-member threshold and putting more members of the Freedom Caucus on the Rules Committee, as well as budgetary provisions and vows to bring votes on certain legislation to the floor. . . .
In a sign that members were nearing an agreement, more than half of the holdouts changed their vote to McCarthy Friday morning, leaving the pressure on six members who could derail McCarthy’s speakership should they continue to refuse to vote for him.
Those six members, Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Bob Good (R-VA), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Rep.-elect Eli Crane (R-AZ), voted “present” in the 15th round, meaning their vote would not count toward the final tally, effectively assuring McCarthy the gavel. . . .
In a stunning turn of events after Gaetz cast his vote, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) appeared to yell at Gaetz and lunge toward him, and he was physically pulled back by another member before Rogers stormed out of the chamber.

Was this protracted battle motivated by personal grievance?

Among the major factors in McCarthy losing more than a dozen speakership ballots, people familiar with the matter say, was the severity of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s enmity toward the Republican leader. Gaetz’s intense and personal distaste for McCarthy has been an open secret in Washington political circles for years, so much so that Gaetz and McCarthy’s colleagues would argue it isn’t even a “secret” at all.
But Gaetz’s hatred curdled into something even more powerful after it was revealed in early 2021 that the MAGA congressman was the target of a federal investigation into the sex trafficking of a minor. (No charges were filed against Gaetz, but his “wingman” Joel Greenberg was sentenced to 11 years in prison.) McCarthy, in Gaetz’s opinion, failed to mount a forceful enough defense on his behalf. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Gaetz has been furious at McCarthy for the perceived lack of support ever since — despite the fact that McCarthy did not strip him of any committee assignments during the probe.

So says Rolling Stone, anyway, and while I’m skeptical that this left-wing publication has informed sources inside the GOP caucus, at the same time I don’t like Republican sex scandals. Republicans should be the party of boring middle-class married life. Let the Democrats have a monopoly on sex scandals. It’s an American tradition.



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