House Democrats elect Ted Lieu as party vice chair

House Democrats on Wednesday elected Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) to serve as vice chair of the caucus next year, solidifying his place as the highest ranking Asian American in Congress.

Lieu bested three other lawmakers — Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) — in a closed-ballot vote to secure his spot as the No. 5 House Democrat in the next Congress.

After the vote, Lieu vowed to use his new position "to advance Democratic values and to stop stupid stuff from MAGA Republicans." He also noted the historic nature of his ascension. 

“It’s not lost on me the importance of this vote for the Asian American community," he said. "And I want to thank both the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for endorsing me for the position."

The vice chair position is currently held by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who will vacate the seat next year to replace Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the chairman spot. Jeffries, in turn, is ascending to the top position in the party, replacing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is stepping out of leadership next year after 20 years at the helm of House Democrats.

With four candidates, the vice-chair race was easily the most competitive of the contests to decide the Democrats’ leadership structure in the 118th Congress. And it featured four popular lawmakers who have each made their mark on the caucus in recent years. 

Lieu and Dingell both serve currently as co-chairs of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC). Beatty is the head of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. And Dean saw her star rise in this Congress as one of the Democrats who led the second impeachment of President Trump following last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

In the end, Lieu was victorious in the ranked-choice process, which required several rounds of votes to determine the winner.  The final round put Lieu against Dingell, who had argued the importance of Democrats empowering voices from the Midwest. Leaving the meeting room in the Longworth Congressional Building, Dingell warned that there could be political repercussions for ignoring the heartland.

“I hope our caucus understands majorities and minorities are made in the Midwest, and that half this caucus is women," she said. "But he won, and we’re all gonna pull together.”

Born in Taiwan, Lieu previously served as legal counsel for the Air Force, where he remains a reservist. He was first elected to Congress in 2014, filling the seat vacated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who retired that year after 40 years on Capitol Hill. 

Over his eight years, Lieu has become something of a social-media star, known for his droll attacks on Trump and other Republicans. In the process, he’s built a small army of 1.6 million Twitter followers.

In a memorable episode this year, he went to the House floor promising to recite everything Jesus Christ said about homosexuality. He then stood silently for 20 seconds before yielding the podium.  

--Updated at 5:55 p.m.

Cicilline to challenge Clyburn for leadership spot

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) on Wednesday announced a bid to join the top tiers of Democratic leadership, challenging Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) for the No. 4 spot within the party brass in the next Congress. 

The move, announced just moments before Democrats were set to vote on their next crop of leaders, came as a surprise. 

Clyburn had announced earlier in the month that he would cede his third-ranking spot next year, but would seek to remain in the top tiers of leadership at the No. 4 assistant leader position, arguing the South needed representation in the top ranks.

And until Wednesday morning, it was thought he would be running unopposed. 

But Cicilline, who rose to become the first openly gay leader in Congress when he led the Democrats’ messaging arm in 2017, said the LGBTQ community deserves a leadership spot of its own. He is currently a co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and cited the recent fatal shooting at a gay bar in Colorado as a driving factor behind his bid. 

He also noted that LGBTQ+ members in House Democratic leadership lost their races in this month's midterms: Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chair of the caucus’ campaign arm, and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), the freshman representative to leadership, both failed to secure reelection.

“A few days before Thanksgiving, our country was torn apart by yet another mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs. It reminded me immediately of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 and how we came together as a caucus to demand action on gun safety legislation by organizing the first ever sit-in on the House floor,” Cicilline wrote Wednesday in a letter to fellow Democrats.

“Later that year, I decided to run for DPCC Co-Chair because I wanted to help serve our Caucus and represent the LGBTQ community in leadership. After the shooting in Colorado Springs, I feel the same sense of duty and responsibility to serve in House leadership again,” he added.

The letter arrived shortly before Democrats were poised to vote on their top three leaders in the next Congress. The vote for the No. 4 position, which Clyburn and Cicilline are seeking, is expected to come on Thursday.

It’s unclear how competitive the contest will be. 

Clyburn, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has been the third-ranking House Democrat for almost 20 years. And his endorsement of Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic primaries was crucial to Biden’s ascension to the White House, solidifying Clyburn’s position as a Palmetto State kingmaker. 

Yet Clyburn also infuriated a number of colleagues when he announced his bid to remain in leadership next year. That marked a stark contrast to Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will both step out of leadership altogether, and it upended the plans of some up-and-coming Democrats who are vying to rise in the ranks. 

Specifically, Clyburn’s decision forced Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who had initially indicated he would seek the assistant leader position, to go after the caucus chairmanship instead. That forced Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) to drop his bid for caucus chair to seek a soon-to-be-created position as the chair of the Democrats’ messaging arm — a promotion, but less than Neguse had wanted. 

In a closed-ballot vote, the lingering animosities could haunt Clyburn, especially among younger lawmakers who had presumed that Clyburn would be joining Pelosi and Hoyer in stepping out of leadership next year. 

It’s not the first time Cicilline has sought to rise in the ranks. In 2020, he made a bid for assistant Speaker but ultimately lost to Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), who is poised to become the second-ranking Democrat in the next Congress, replacing Hoyer. 

Cicilline said it was always his intention to run for the role again if Clark were to move on.

“As many of you will remember, I ran for Assistant Speaker previously and after falling short last time I told many of you that I planned to run again once Assistant Speaker Clark was elected to another position,” Cicilline wrote to colleagues. “Now that the position will be vacant, I am asking for your support once again.”

Cicilline has emerged as one of Capitol Hill’s most ardent champions of federal efforts to rein in corporate monopolies, particularly in the technology industry. His package of antitrust bills passed through the House in September. 

Cicilline, who served as an impeachment manager during President Trump’s first impeachment, also made headlines earlier this month when he circulated a letter previewing legislation that seeks to prevent Trump from holding office in the future. 

The bill would utilize a statute in the 14th Amendment that says individuals should not hold any office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [U.S.], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Cicilline says he’s still pushing to vote on the resolution in the waning weeks of the lame-duck session, though the bill has not yet been introduced.

--Updated at 11:42 a.m.

Congressional Black Caucus endorses Jeffries for Democratic leadership

The Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to be the Democratic leader in the House.

In a tweet sent on Wednesday, the CBC highlighted that Jeffries would become the first Black American to lead a major political party in Congress.

“Congressman Jeffries is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as House Democratic Caucus Chairman throughout a period of enormous turmoil for our nation,” the CBC said. 

“Despite this, Jeffries led Democrats to unprecedented legislative successes. From surviving the longest government shutdown in history to the impeachment of a lawless president, a once-in-a-century pandemic, resulting economic crisis, reckoning with systemic racism, a violent insurrection, the inauguration of a new President, an insurrection, and a second impeachment. We are confident Congressman Jeffries will continue building upon his leadership experience and working to create a better future for all Americans in his historic role as the first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in congress as the Democratic Leader for the 118th Congress.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Nov. 17 that after two decades of leadership, she would step down from her spot at the head of the party. Jeffries announced his candidacy for the position the following day, sending a letter to his fellow Democrats asking for their support. 

Leadership voting will take place behind closed doors on Wednesday, and Jeffries is expected to win without challenge. 

At 52, Jeffries has served five terms in office and been a staunch advocate for social and economic justice. 

In January 2020, Pelosi selected Jeffries to serve as one of seven House Impeachment Managers in the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump, becoming the first Black man to serve in that role. 

Though Republicans won control of the House on Nov. 8, Jeffries’ ascension will set him up to become the first Black Speaker of the House if Democrats regain control in two years.

The caucus also released endorsements for Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) for Democratic whip; Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) for Democratic caucus chair; Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) for assistant Democratic leader; Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) for Democratic caucus vice chair; Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) for Democratic policy and communications (DPCC) chair; Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) for DPCC co-chair; and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) for DPCC co-chair.

McCarthy Speaker quest leaves balancing act on national security

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is toeing a delicate line on national security issues in the lame-duck session as he seeks to win enough votes on the House floor to win the Speakership in January.

McCarthy is torn between competing factions of the GOP as he weighs a series of moves targeting the Biden administration and other Washington Democrats in the next Congress — all while trying to convince conservative GOP lawmakers to back him for Speaker.

He’s vowed to boot California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He’s also threatened to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of the southern border.

And McCarthy has indicated he will withhold GOP support for a lame-duck vote on a bipartisan defense policy bill as a way to fight “wokeism” in the military.  

If the delay is successful, it would mark the first time in more than 60 years that has Congress failed to reauthorize Pentagon spending by the end of a calendar year; the delay would allow a GOP House to take it up next year.

Democrats have blasted McCarthy’s plans to boot Democrats from panels as purely political, while Republicans say Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set Congress on that slippery slope when House Democrats impeached former President Trump twice and later expelled two Republicans from their committee seats.

The House voted last year to punish Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for sharing an animated video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) was removed months earlier for promoting the execution of leading Democrats before she was elected to office. 

McCarthy blamed Democrats for “this new standard.”

“Never in the history [of Congress] have you had the majority tell the minority who can be on committee,” McCarthy said at the start of 2022. “This is a new level of what the Democrats have done.”

For Schiff, McCarthy has zeroed in on his role in the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, accusing him of lying to the public about the former president’s ties to Moscow and Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine. He’s bashed Swalwell for his ties to a Chinese spy with whom he cut off contact after being warned of her true identity by the FBI.

Schiff said his targeting is nothing more than an effort by McCarthy to win support for his Speakership bid.

McCarthy was elected Speaker-designate in a closed-door GOP conference vote, but lost 31 votes. He will need to win over many of them to be elected Speaker on the House floor.

“McCarthy’s problem is not with what I have said about Russia. McCarthy’s problem is, he can’t get to 218 without Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz,” Schiff said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union." 

“And so he will do whatever they ask. And, right now, they’re asking for me to be removed from our committees. And he’s willing to do it. He’s willing to do anything they ask.”

The Mayorkas fight reflects the awkward line that McCarthy is trying to walk.

He courted conservative votes last week by vowing an investigation of Mayorkas but did not fully embrace an impeachment vote, allowing himself wiggle room to change his mind next year.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas.

In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) expressed doubt the GOP would be able to impeach Mayorkas swiftly.

“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict. Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he said.

Other Republicans, however, want to go full steam ahead, suggesting anything short of Mayorkas’s removal would put the country’s security at risk.

“He needs to go,” Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-Texas) told Fox News on Sunday. “We need to make an example of Mayorkas. And he will be just the start of what we do in this new Congress.”

Other Republicans have dismissed an impeachment vote as a stunt.

“It would basically be putting form over substance to go through a big performance on impeachment that’s never going anywhere,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a George W. Bush appointee, said over the weekend, “rather than actually working with the administration to solve the problem.”

McCarthy also faces divisions on delaying the defense bill, as some Republicans want to move forward and also pull back from threats to limit support for Ukraine. 

McCarthy says he wants to pump the breaks on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and another round of funding to aid Ukraine in its battle against Russia, saying he wouldn’t back a “blank check.”

“I’ve watched what the Democrats have done on many of these things, especially the NDAA — the wokeism that they want to bring in there,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the midterms. “I actually believe the NDAA should hold up until the 1st of this year — and let’s get it right.”

McCarthy is far from the only Republican with complaints about the NDAA. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) put out a report slamming the “Woke Warfighters” of the Pentagon. But McCarthy is also facing pressure from the right.

“Let’s hold the bill hostage. Let’s leverage what we have,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who opposes McCarthy’s Speakership bid, recently said on a podcast. 

Democrats and the Biden administration argue a delay will hurt the military.

“If you kick it off four, five, six months, you are really damaging the United States military. So I hope Kevin McCarthy understands that,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said. “You are damaging the United States military every day past Oct. 1 that you don’t get it done, and certainly more so every day past" Jan. 1.

On Ukraine, some Republicans have bristled at the idea of holding back any funding as the country continues to make advances against Russia.

“We're going to make certain they get what they need,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said in an appearance alongside McCaul.

“The fact is, we are going to provide more oversight, transparency and accountability. We're not going to write a blank check,” McCaul added. “Does that diminish our will to help the Ukraine people fight? No. But we're going to do it in a responsible way.” 

Conservatives sharpen their knives as McCarthy works to peel off skeptics

"Knives Out" isn't just playing on screen this week: Conservatives are digging in against Kevin McCarthy before the conclusion of a closed-door fight over consolidating the House GOP leader's power.

As House Republicans keep debating their rules for next year's majority, the Freedom Caucus — home to several members seeking to derail McCarthy's speakership bid — is pushing for institutional changes that they argue will restore power to rank-and-file members. Before that debate Wednesday, McCarthy allies likely will move to scrap or neuter some of the Freedom Caucus' dozen or so proposals.

Members of the pro-Trump group had clamored earlier this month to restore House members' ability to oust the speaker, though that effort got silenced by a counter-proposal from Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that requires a majority of the conference to back any anti-speaker vote. Freedom Caucus members accused leadership of lining up opposition to their initial round of changes while postponing more controversial ideas until this week.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who has a proposed rules change on the Wednesday agenda, said that “I don’t think the first [debate] was very productive" and that he hasn't decided if he'll back McCarthy for speaker on Jan. 3. Bishop added that he's looking to see if Wednesday's session will be “different in tenor than" the pre-Thanksgiving session, saying “I don’t think it has much utility if it’s not.”

Among the Freedom Caucus-backed demands is one from chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) that would reshape the House GOP Steering Committee, a leadership-driven group of lawmakers that decides most gavels and committee assignments. Perry's proposal would “relieve [the steering panel] of the responsibility to recommend committee chairs." And he's offering another that would require any amendment considered on the House floor to boast backing from “the majority of the Republican conference.”

The House GOP will also consider a proposal to ban earmarks that was offered by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). They are under fierce pressure from conservatives and outside groups to adopt the proposal, but leadership allies are predicting that the conference will reject his bid and give McCarthy a valuable carrot in his search for the votes he needs to win the top gavel.

A growing list of House Republicans is threatening to not vote for him as speaker, with open opponents currently numbering five. Three hard nos have emerged from Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), while Reps. Bob Good (R-Va.) and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) have sent strong signals they'll vote no.

And that makes the rules debate particularly prickly for McCarthy: He must balance the appearance of acquiescing to some conservative demands while also ensuring that whatever ground he gives doesn't undercut him if he does become speaker.

“If McCarthy wants to be Speaker, he should support the Freedom Caucus’ rules package,” said Cesar Ybarra, vice president of policy at the conservative outside group FreedomWorks. “McCarthy is not popular with the conservative base, so we understand why dozens of Republicans voted against him for Speaker earlier this month. This is a great opportunity for each member to have the ability to influence the legislative process, a practice that is currently stifled by leadership.”

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus member, argued that internal party rules will be “really important” next Congress because of the party’s “narrow majority.”

“We're gonna have to agree on how to work together to be pretty effective,” Davidson said.

McCarthy critics are pledging that more skeptics will speak out over the next five weeks, creating a steady drip that highlights the fragility of his speaker bid as the floor vote nears.

Biggs, who unsuccessfully ran against McCarthy earlier this month for the GOP speaker nomination, predicted Monday that the California Republican is still down roughly 20 votes, describing that group as “pretty hard nos.”

“I was told by a number of people, who came after to me afterwards, who aren’t members of [the] Freedom Caucus, [that] ‘Hey, I voted for you’ or ‘I voted against Kevin,'" Biggs said on a Conservative Review podcast, adding that enough embers were lit to “prevent Kevin from getting the speakership.”

McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes in January, perhaps as few as five. And he’s vowing to take the fight all the way to the floor, even if it means multiple rounds of voting ballots.

By Biggs’ estimate, the California Republican has already flipped some GOP lawmakers who opposed him less than two weeks ago, though a faction of them were always viewed as less than committed opponents. Thirty-one House Republicans voted for Biggs during this month's internal vote to nominate McCarthy as the conference's speaker pick, while five others backed other write-in candidates and one Republican abstained.

More rank-and-file House Republicans say they aren’t sure what sort of deals McCarthy is offering in these meetings, some of which are taking place one-on-one with the GOP leader.

Conservatives were venting before Thanksgiving that many of their proposed changes got shot down because GOP leaders lined up opponents to speak against them during the first round of closed-door conference debate. This week isn't likely to play out much differently, which could fuel a new round of angst toward the GOP leader.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), a McCarthy ally who lost a primary race to a GOP colleague after redistricting, argued that a rules fight happens every Congress and cautioned more junior lawmakers to ignore Freedom Caucus-backed ideas.

“There are certain members that will always advocate for rules changes, some of them the same rules changes that they've advocated for my entire career,” Davis said, adding that with time those members often realize they weren't "such good ideas.”

“That being said, Leader McCarthy has got to find a way to get the number of votes [to be speaker]," Davis added. "Which I think he will.”

Posted in Uncategorized

McConnell condemns Trump dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday condemned former President Trump’s dinner with Nick Fuentes, an outspoken white supremacist and antisemitic organizer. 

McConnell usually avoids conflict with the former president, whom he last spoke to in December 2020, but on Tuesday he let loose with pointed criticism of Trump’s electability.  

“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, [is] highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States,” he told reporters at the start of his weekly press conference. 

McConnell’s comments came a day after Senate Republicans across the political spectrum criticized Trump’s decision to host Fuentes and Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, at his dinner table at Mar-a-Lago shortly before Thanksgiving. 

Ye has also provoked controversy for making numerous antisemitic statements and lost lucrative partnership with Adidas and other corporate brands because of them.  

McConnell’s comments represented some of his most direct public criticism of Trump since excoriating him on the Senate floor at the end of his second impeachment trial for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. 

Asked if he would support Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, McConnell emphasized: “There is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy and that would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices.” 

McConnell’s remarks were more direct in taking on Trump than those of his House counterpart.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier on Tuesday had condemned Fuentes but stopped short of going after the former president.

“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” McCarthy said outside the White. “He has no place in this Republican Party.”

He added, “I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn’t know who he was.”

McConnell and Trump have feuded since McConnell told Trump in a phone call on Dec. 15, 2020, that he had recognized Joe Biden as president after the Electoral College voted to elect him the day before.  

The Senate Republican leader was “furious” at the time, according to associates, about Trump’s role inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.  

Though McConnell voted to acquit Trump on technical grounds for inciting the storming of the Capitol, he declared on the floor: “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.” 

Since then, McConnell has studiously avoided commenting on Trump’s controversial statements, legal problems or influence on the party.  

But he did make clear after the Nov. 8 midterm election that he did not think Trump’s prominence in the national political spotlight was helpful to Senate Republican candidates, especially in the swing state of Pennsylvania where Trump held a rally with Senate GOP candidate Mehmet Oz a few days before he was defeated on Election Day. 

“Here’s the problem, we underperformed among voters who did not like President Biden’s performance, among independents and among moderate Republicans, who looked at us and concluded [there was] too much chaos, too much negativity and we turned off a lot of these centrist voters,” McConnell told reporters after the election, though being careful not to mention Trump by name.  

He said that trend was a problem in several battleground states and “fatal” in Pennsylvania.  

“Dr. Oz was trying to run as a moderate, trying to appeal to those voters in Bucks and Chester County surrounding Philadelphia. That message got muddled at the end, which made it very difficult for him to achieve success,” he said, appearing to refer to Oz getting tied to Trump and the MAGA-affiliated gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at the end of the race.  

Trump announced a run for the White House a few days later.

But his electability appears to have taken a hit since Election Day, when Republican candidates, such as Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake, who pushed Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 elections, lost key races.  

A Morning Consult/Politico poll of registered voters across the country showed Trump leading a crowded field of Republican challengers if the GOP primary were held today. Trump garnered 45 percent support compared to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s 30 percent support.  

A Club for Growth Action poll conducted from Nov. 11 to Nov. 23, however, showed DeSantis leading Trump by 11 percentage points and 15 points in Iowa and New Hampshire, which traditionally hold the first two contests of the presidential primary.  

Updated at 5:29 p.m.

‘Fighter until the end’: McEachin remembered by Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Black Caucus members have been mourning the death of fellow member Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) — who they called an “extraordinary statesman” and “tireless advocate” — after he died from cancer Monday night. 

“It is with profound sadness that we join the people of Virginia and the McEachin family in mourning the loss of our dear friend and colleague, the honorable Congressman Donald McEachin,” the Caucus tweeted Monday. 

“Congressman McEachin was a tireless advocate for the people of Virginia and our nation. He dedicated his life to advancing America’s working families, creating economic opportunities, and promoting environmental justice for all. He leaves an unparalleled legacy of excellence and integrity, and we will honor that legacy with our continued dedication to the issues which he championed.”

McEachin’s death was announced Monday by his chief of staff, Tara Rountree, who said the congressman had been experiencing “secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013.” 

McEachin was 61. His death has prompted an outpouring of support from individual members of the caucus as well.

“As a fellow member of @TheBlackCaucus, I was proud to work with Don on issues ranging from Black Maternal Health and HBCUs to the preservation of African American Burial Grounds,” Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) tweeted. 

“Don was an extraordinary statesman, and always kind,” she added in another tweet. “My prayers are with Don’s wife Colette, their children, their family and friends, and all of Congressman McEachin’s staff who supported him in service of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.”

Adams said McEachin was a fighter for the state of Virginia, and he shared his personal fight with cancer to “inspire others to get screened and see their doctor.”

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said McEachin was a friend and called him “a dedicated public servant and a fighter until the end.” He added that McEachin’s voice and passion will be missed. 

Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida) said in a statement she was “deeply saddened” by McEachin’s passing. 

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., stands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., as she announces her impeachment managers during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“We came to Congress together, where he was a leader and a friend,” Demings said. “He was a man of faith and conviction who truly understood what it meant to stand up for the ‘least of these.’ Despite his personal health challenges, he was devoted to his constituents, and he showed up to do the work. He was a tireless fighter for health care, gun safety, civil rights, and environmental justice. His commitment and that legacy will live on, but I will miss him.”

Fellow Virginia representative Bobby Scott (D) paid tribute to McEachin in a statement that called him a “thoughtful and principled legislator and respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” 

“He was also a trail blazing figure in Virginia politics – being the first African-American nominee of a major party for Virginia Attorney General and only the third African-American elected to Congress from Virginia,” Scott said. 

“Donald was resolute in pushing Virginia to lead the way in climate policy. He was also one of Congress’s strongest champions for environmental justice, fighting to ensure that our most vulnerable communities have access to clean air and water. The Commonwealth and our nation have lost one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality.”

McEachin came to Congress in 2016 after serving in both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly. 

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, on Oct. 10, 1961, McEachin was the son of an Army veteran and a public school teacher.

He graduated from American University with a degree in political science and from the University of Virginia School of Law. In 2008, he received his Master of Divinity from The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.

He was a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the NAACP. 

“Donald wholeheartedly represented his home state of Virginia and was unyielding in his fight for environmental justice in Congress,” NAACP CEO and president Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “We will miss him and his determination to improve our environment for the next generation.”

At the time of his death, McEachin sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Natural Resources Committee and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

On Tuesday, flags were at half-staff at the White House and the Capitol in honor of McEachin.

GOP rep says there are 20 firm ‘no’ votes against McCarthy as Speaker

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said 20 members of the House Republican Conference are "pretty hard no” votes against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) becoming Speaker next session. 

Biggs said in an interview on the podcast "Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz" that those who plan to not vote for McCarthy are not all from the House Freedom Caucus, the most conservative group in the body. 

Biggs, a former chair of the Freedom Caucus, ran against McCarthy to be the GOP’s nominee for the Speakership earlier this month. McCarthy won the vote, 188-31, with five representatives voting for neither man. 

But McCarthy needs to win 218 votes on Jan. 3, the first day of the next session of Congress, to become Speaker, and Republicans are set to hold only a narrow majority, meaning he cannot afford to lose many votes. 

All Democrats will likely support their party’s nominee, which will likely be Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). McCarthy warned in an interview with Newsmax on Monday that Democrats could pick the next Speaker if Republicans “play games” on the House floor. 

At least five House Republicans, including Biggs, have publicly said or strongly indicated they will not vote for McCarthy on the floor. 

McCarthy has received criticism from hard-line conservatives over various issues like not pushing for a budget that cuts spending and not committing to pursuing impeachment against certain Biden administration officials like Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign in remarks last week, saying if he does not, House Republicans will determine if they can begin an impeachment inquiry. 

Biggs said the party leadership needs a change from the status quo. He said the issues with McCarthy have “galvanized” enough members to prevent him from winning the Speakership. 

“The sooner that they realize that, then the sooner that we can resolve who will be the Speaker,” he said.

McCarthy Can Put the GOP in Position To Win in ’24

By Terry Holt & R.C. Hammond for RealClearWire

Now that the GOP has gained a House majority, Kevin McCarthy has a real opportunity to rise to the occasion. Although it wasn’t the midterm election result McCarthy wanted, by winning the House of Representatives the Republican Party has a seat at the governing table. The 55th speaker of the House is in a position to set policies and priorities in contrast to Joe Biden, and in the process make the case that a Republican belongs back in the White House in 2024.

Doing so means that McCarthy and his lieutenants will have to demonstrate they understand the value of playing the long game. Even in a complicated political environment, the incoming GOP House leader can reset the party’s internal politics – provided he can orchestrate his caucus to communicate with purpose. It’s a tall task, but this is the moment.

Republicans would be well-served to focus first on what majorities of the American people want – bringing inflation under control, lowering the cost of gasoline and groceries, leading the country out of recession, and checking President Biden’s tax-and-spend Big Government master plan.

House Republicans could be off to a quick start, focusing on issues that unify the American people. HR 1 should be an American Energy Power Plan, where we put the left on defense and finally put our nation’s energy future on solid footing. A cold winter is a bracing reminder that U.S. energy production must happen on our soil, on our terms, while bolstering American jobs and helping European allies.

Related: Democrat Adam Schiff Suggests Complying With Subpoenas is Optional, Now

Voters would also rest easier knowing that our borders are under control and that U.S. military and economic strength is a deterrent to North Korean missiles and Iranian-backed terrorism, not to mention Russian cybercrime and Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. Focus on the priorities, unify the American people, and you can go a long way toward unifying the GOP House conference.

Headline-chasing investigations should be distinct from regular oversight. There is a dire need to audit, trace, and confirm taxpayer dollars. We must know that the countless billions are being appropriately spent. And while we are being blunt, the GOP should drop the word impeachment from their vocabulary. We need to show that we can learn from the mistakes of the opposition.

We don’t need an investigation to confirm China’s responsibility for spreading COVID. Still, hearings can identify why public health systems failed and identify approaches that don’t trample civil liberties or shut down the American economy the next time we confront a pandemic. When it comes to inquiries into Biden’s business dealings, direct questions about payments to Joe Biden are far more relevant than even the most scandalous, and at this point personally tragic, revelations about Hunter Biden.

Clicks are not votes, and social media engagement is not persuasion. Elon Musk will do his best to rebuild Twitter into a public square, but compelling communication fundamentals should be the priority. Look at Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis leveraged disputes over stadium funding. Mike DeWine in Ohio led on the economy and created the political climate which helped the GOP to hold a vital Senate seat.

Related: Weak McCarthy Might Lead to First ‘Floor Fight’ for House Speaker in 100 Years

All of this will occur against the backdrop of the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Donald Trump is running, and he is the front-runner unless served notice by primary voters. He is a formidable campaigner, and nobody is better at delivering a one-line knock-out punch.

Like the successful 1994 “Contract with America” before it, McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” is the checklist the GOP should use to keep their focus. Nancy Pelosi will no longer be an option for punditry punchlines, and intra-party squabbles will draw the interest of a hostile establishment media. We agree with Newt Gingrich, probably the most notorious back-bench rabble-rouser of them all: Picking fights with leadership doesn’t advance the ball.

If the GOP nominee wins in ’24, it will be because they won the independent voter’s support. To get there, McCarthy first has to realign the GOP’s message.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Terry Holt is a former Capitol Hill and presidential campaign spokesperson.

R.C. Hammond is former Capitol Hill and presidential campaign spokesperson.

The post McCarthy Can Put the GOP in Position To Win in ’24 appeared first on The Political Insider.

McCarthy: Democrats could pick Speaker if Republicans ‘play games’ on House floor

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned his skeptics in the House Republican Conference against opposing him for Speaker on the House floor.

“We have to speak as one voice. We will only be successful if we work together, or we’ll lose individually. This is very fragile — that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration,” McCarthy said on Newsmax Monday.

“And if we don’t do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats can end up picking who the Speaker is,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy completed the first step toward Speakership when he won the House GOP’s nomination for the position earlier this month against a long-shot challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chair of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, in a 188 to 31 vote, with five others voting for neither of the two.

But in order to secure the Speakership, he needs to win majority support on the House floor on the first day of the new Congress on Jan. 3. And with Republicans winning a narrower-than-anticipated majority of around 222 seats to around 213 for Democrats, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes on the floor.

All Democrats are expected to vote for their party’s Speaker nominee, expected to be finalized as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) this week. At least five House Republicans from the hard-line conservative wing have publicly said or strongly indicated that they will not vote for McCarthy on the floor, throwing his Speakership bid into dangerous territory.

Those members are Reps. Bob Good (Va.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Biggs. 

Several others have expressed skepticism of McCarthy but have not said how they will vote on Jan. 3. Biggs said on the "Conservative Review" podcast on Monday that he thinks the number of “hard noes” on McCarthy is around 20 GOP members, which would sink McCarthy’s bid.

McCarthy’s warning about Democrats picking the Speaker echoes repeated warnings from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has broken with her Freedom Caucus colleagues to strongly support McCarthy. A handful of moderates, she says, could join with Democrats to elect a more moderate Speaker.

McCarthy also alluded to other factions of the party and the possibility of moderates breaking away.

“You have to listen to everybody in the conference, because five people on any side can stop anything when you’re in the majority,” McCarthy said on Newsmax.

Those opposed to McCarthy cite various issues, such as his not committing to pass a budget that slashes spending, his resistance to Freedom Caucus rules change requests that would give more power to rank-and-file members and his unwillingness to commit to impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

McCarthy did last week call on Mayorkas to resign or face a House GOP investigation and potential impeachment inquiry.

Allies of McCarthy also point out that there is no viable GOP alternative to him for Speaker, though Biggs has said he expects a more consensus candidate to emerge before Jan. 3.

“I think at the end of the day, calmer heads will prevail. We’ll work together to find the best path forward,” McCarthy said.

Though a majority of the whole House is 218 members, it is possible for a Speaker to be elected with fewer than that number since a Speaker needs majority support from only those voting for a specific candidate by surname.

Absences, “present” votes and vacancies lower that threshold. Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin (Va.) died on Monday, and his seat is likely to be vacant on Jan. 3.