Leader Hakeem Jeffries: ‘It’s not our responsibility’ to help GOP count votes

House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters Wednesday that the debacle of Republicans’ failure to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was merely a “setback,” a numbers game and not a colossal failure on his team’s account. “Sometimes when you’re counting votes and people show up when they’re not expected to be in the building it changes the equation,” he said. Those tricksy Democrats hiding their votes. 

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries was having none of that when he talked to reporters Wednesday. “It’s not our responsibility to let House Republicans know which members will or will not be present on the House floor on any other day or in connection with any given vote.”

He slammed Republicans for the political distraction:

What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with the economy? Nothing. What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with addressing the affordability issues in the United States of America? Nothing. What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with fixing our broken immigration system and addressing challenges at the border? Absolutely nothing.

It's incredible to me that instead of extreme MAGA Republicans pivoting to working with us in a commonsense way to solve real problems for the American people, their focus is on how do we get Steve Scalise back to Washington so we can continue to do the bidding of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump and impeach Secretary Mayorkas? That tells you everything we need to know about this do-nothing, chaotic, dysfunctional and extreme Republican majority.

That is what Johnson is focused on: Getting Rep. Steve Scalise—who is recovering from a stem cell transplant—back to work and bringing the resolution back to the floor just as he’s available. Johnson and his team are not going to address the issue that three of their members are opposed to this impeachment because it’s bullshit.

“People around here should take note of it because they’re losing a group of Republicans that are really important,” Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, one of those “no” votes on Tuesday, told The Hill. “The vote is a matter of numbers always. But I don’t think it’s a matter of numbers when you’re looking at the Constitution and whether it’s the right thing to do.”


House GOP’s unprecedented stunt to impeach Mayorkas fails

Speaker Mike Johnson had a stunningly awful day—and he did it to himself

House GOP forms circular firing squad over their epic failures

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Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries eggs on Republicans in their civil war

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is having some fun at Republicans’ expense, stirring one of the pots simmering away in their civil war. 

The GOP Tax Scam in 2017 obliterated the State and Local Tax deduction and hurt middle class families. House Republicans in New York promised to fix it. They lied.

— Hakeem Jeffries (@hakeemjeffries) January 30, 2024

Jeffries is needling the so-called “moderates” in the Republican conference who are taking on leadership in what should be a no-brainer tax bill. The bill would extend the child tax credit to help more working families and reduce some business taxes. What more could you want in an election-year tax bill? 

It’s not enough for some of the members of the Biden 17, the group of Republicans in districts that voted Democratic in the 2020 presidential election. They want their specific, parochial tax break for their constituents—increasing the federal deduction for state and local taxes—to be included in the bill. And they’re threatening to take a page out of the Freedom Caucus playbook and shut the House down if they don’t get it.

SALT FRAY: LaLota suggests unrelated rules could get knocked down and slowing House floor business if they aren’t heard out on SALT for the tax bill. D'Esposito, asked if he’d also consider joining: Absolutely. Perhaps it's time that us rational become the radical.

— Chris Cioffi (@ReporterCioffi) January 30, 2024

“Do it! Do it!” Jeffries seems to be urging them, in a masterful bit of trolling. He’s reinforcing just how vulnerable these members sitting in swing districts are. He’s also poking some fun at just how ineffectual they’ve been in accomplishing anything in the majority.

But Jeffries is also putting just that much more pressure on House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has a very, very tenuous hold on the majority right now and absolutely can’t afford to lose any votes on any bills. Another masterful troller—Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern—pointed out that the GOP’s ranks were so thin Monday that Democrats had the majority. "My Republican friends barely—barely—control the House of Representatives,” McGovern ribbed. “In fact, yesterday there were more Democrats voting than Republicans."


House GOP wages war with itself, the Senate, and reality

There’s a bipartisan plan to ease child poverty—if the GOP will let it happen

Democrats are blowing up House GOP efforts to take down Biden

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Disarray alert: House Republicans struggle with slim majority and chaos

With the exit of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the ejection of George Santos, and the impending resignation of Rep. Bill Johnson, House Republicans' bare majority is getting delectably precarious.

Daily Kos Elections political director David Nir games it all out, concluding that Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson will likely end up having a two-vote margin of error on any given measure.

Wherever the numbers end up, Republicans' exceedingly thin majority throughout the 118th Congress has proven to be a blessing in disguise, despite Democrats' failure to keep the majority last cycle. Rarely, if ever, has America seen a more pathetic display of governance than that offered by House Republicans this Congress. The chaos of multiple leadership battles amid the daily display of internecine warfare within the GOP caucus has been both instructive for voters and good for America heading into, yet again, the most consequential election of our lifetimes.

As former Rep. Liz Cheney bluntly noted this week, “A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in. ... People have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution.”

Liz Cheney: “A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in...People have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution.” pic.twitter.com/ryynyn3kE7

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) December 4, 2023

Cheney also called the prospect of Mike Johnson still being speaker in 2025 "terrifying" in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

One of the reasons the race for control of the House is so critical is because it's the 119th Congress that will certify the 2024 election, and House Democrats can serve as a backstop to any Republican election-stealing efforts if Democrats control the chamber.

To the benefit of the pro-democracy side, House Republicans have revealed themselves as completely incapable of leading anything. The message appears to be sinking in, based on Navigator Research polling of roughly 60 battleground districts that will decide control of the House in next year's elections, with nearly 7 in 10 respondents recently saying Republicans have prioritized "the wrong things."

Last month, pro-Trump Rep. Chip Roy of Texas summed up House Republican rule nicely.

“Explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done," Roy said during a floor speech.

Last week, Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries happily riffed off Roy's rant in a press conference during the debate over expelling Santos from his seat.

"House Republicans have now been in the majority for a little under a year—they have nothing to show the American people that they have accomplished.," Jeffries said, mentioning Roy's assertion. "Nothing to meet the needs of the American people," he continued.

“House Republicans have now been in the majority for a little under a year. They have nothing to show the American people that they have accomplished … Don’t take my word for it. Just ask Chip Roy.” — Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries slams House GOP pic.twitter.com/sZqRmt6Cj6

— The Recount (@therecount) November 30, 2023

Fortunately for Democrats, that dynamic won't be changing anytime soon. House Republicans’ next debacle is already in process, with Johnson preparing to hold a vote as soon as next week on initiating a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

Not only will it not be popular with voters, it's the perfect way for House Republicans to kick off 2024

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Republicans ditch McCarthy, first speaker ousted in American history

Holy crap, did we really just watch that happen? In a historic first, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to oust the speaker via a vote of the chamber. In the past, endangered speakers like Paul Ryan and John Boehner opted to quit or not run for reelection rather than face the ignominy of losing a vote by their peers.

But not former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who dared rebel Rep. Matt Gaetz to oust him. As “The Wire’s” Omar Little said, “You come at the king, you best not miss,” and Gaetz’s aim was true. With the help of gleeful Democrats, happy to pay McCarthy back for a legitimate list of grievances, McCarthy narrowly lost the vote 216-210, two votes more than the magic number of 214. It was only the second time in American history such a vote was attempted, and the first time it was successful.

This is, in the end, the ultimate Leopards Ate Face story.

It was clear from the very beginning of this House term that the Freedom Caucus was a nihilist group intent on tearing down the institution. They were ungovernable from the beginning, yet McCarthy, in a Faustian bargain, surrendered to them in order to achieve his big dream of holding the speaker’s gavel. And he did! He even got to stand behind President Joe Biden for a single State of the Union. But in the end, all it bought him was a historic humiliation.

Was it worth it, Kevin?

We are now in uncharted territory. Joan McCarter wrote about what could happen next.

One likely outcome is a vengeful effort by the majority of House Republicans to expel Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy. It would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That’s bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

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But before we get there, Republicans will need to figure out how to elect a new speaker. Will McCarthy make another attempt? He certainly can’t do it with Republican votes, and if he didn’t cut a deal with Democrats to save his skin on Tuesday, why would he do so to get elected a second time? Is there another Republican that can unite the two Republican factions that clearly loathe each other?

Given the slim Republican majority, can Democrats somehow engineer a coup, getting Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries elected speaker with the assistance of rebel Republicans? Over two dozen Republicans represent Biden-won districts. They wouldn’t even have to vote for Jeffries; they could just be unavailable for a day.

Jeffries is clearly open to the possibilities, as his latest statement shows

And heck, it’s clear that the Freedom Caucus longs to be in the minority. Their grift is so much more effective when facing off against a Democratic speaker, and as a bonus to the racist MAGA base, Jeffries is Black. They can raise a ton of money off being in the minority. It might literally benefit them to engineer a Jeffries speakership.

As for McCarthy, good riddance. Republicans are unable to take responsibility for their own actions, so the likes of former Rep. Tom Cole, Rep. Patrick McHenry, and Republican operative Brendan Buck were sure to claim it was Democrats that were sending our nation into turmoil because they wouldn’t bail McCarthy out. Democrats had no reason to help McCarthy, and he never offered them a deal to protect him. It’s always someone else’s fault with them!

Still, all Democrats had to do was point to McCarthy’s actions on Jan. 6, and his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago days later, at a time when Trump was at his most politically vulnerable. McCarthy worked tirelessly to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, and he’s been complicit in the sham Biden impeachment inquiry—ironically designed to placate the same Republican nihilist caucus that ultimately ousted him. McCarthy also reneged on the debt-limit deal he made with Biden earlier in the year, and this weekend, he went on national TV to blame Democrats for wanting to shut down the government.

McCarthy is a pathetic man, groveling to the worst of his party, all in the raw pursuit of power. And in the end, he got exactly what everyone expected.

House Democrats tell Republicans to pound sand

The party that controls the House of Representatives is the party charged with making it work—or governing, as some might put it. And House Democrats staunchly told Republicans Tuesday they must sink or swim on their own.

The Speaker of the House is chosen by the Majority Party. In this Congress, it is the responsibility of House Republicans to choose a nominee & elect the Speaker on the Floor. At this time there is no justification for a departure from this tradition. The House will be in order.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 3, 2023

Specifically, as Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced a potential ouster by MAGA misfits in his own party, Democrats told him to pound sand. They wouldn’t bail him out—not even the moderate Democratic members of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus.

NEW: Centrist Dems in bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which just met, told Rs in the group they won't be saving McCarthy, per sources – McCarthy’s last potential line of defense and another sign that Democrats will be unified in their decision not to bail the speaker out.

— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) October 3, 2023

According to CNN's Melanie Zanona, centrist Democrats told Republicans in their bipartisan group early on Tuesday that they wouldn't rescue McCarthy.

McCarthy needed a total of 214 votes to save his job as speaker—meaning he couldn’t lose more than a handful of his own members, or else he would need Democrats to help make up the difference.

But instead of helping McCarthy out of the corner he negotiated himself into when he seized the gavel by putting himself one disgruntled misfit away from being vacated, Democrats called on moderate Republicans to reject the MAGA extremists who constantly threaten to sink the economy, the country, and democracy itself with stunts like allowing a catastrophic debt default and rooting for government shutdowns.

“We are ready, willing and able to work together with our Republican colleagues, but it is on them to join us,” Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters Tuesday after an hours-long meeting with his caucus.

As former Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, McCarthy repeatedly proved to Democrats that he couldn’t be a trusted partner by breaking his promises, routinely demonizing Democrats, launching an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and refusing to participate in the Jan. 6 investigation last Congress when he was the minority leader.

“He did everything to remind Democrats that Kevin McCarthy, though he walks around with a smile, is really no different than the leading hard-right Republicans like Jim Jordan,” Jolly said. 

The cohesive Democratic stand against rescuing Republicans from the MAGA hostage takers who run their caucus and terrorize the country is both good politics for Democrats and good governance for the country.

First and foremost, MAGA maniacs shouldn't be in charge of any legislative chamber when they have demonstrated zero interest in doing The People’s business of governing.

Second, and equally as important, Americans must be allowed to witness and experience the dysfunction of a Republican Party in thrall to MAGA maniacs. This is what voters get if they put the Republican Party in charge of anything—even if they cast their vote for a supposedly sane Republican.

Remember, former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi governed the 117th Congress with a razor-thin House majority too. But Pelosi kept the lights on and passed a historic amount of legislation, directing tens of billions of dollars to bills addressing COVID relief, infrastructure improvements, American manufacturing, and battling climate change.

As former Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, a onetime rising GOP star, told MSNBC of the spectacle on the House floor, "This is a very sad day for the institution. This is what MAGA has done, both to the country and to the institution."

Comstock said she was sad for the Republican Party, and added, "but I'm even more sad for the institution and for the country."

Wild ride ahead as Matt Gaetz gets his chance to oust McCarthy

UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023 · 3:32:51 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

“We are not voting in any way that would help save Speaker McCarthy … Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy, and why should we?” — House Progressives Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) after the Democratic Caucus meeting pic.twitter.com/QG1jc3Velv

— The Recount (@therecount) October 3, 2023

UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023 · 3:31:29 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

All of the reporting this morning from the Democrats’ meeting is of a unified conference that isn’t going to sit this out, and is not going to support McCarthy. The reasons: “McCarthy’s actions on Jan 6, his trip to Mar a Lago, his attempt to discredit the Jan 6 Cmte, his reneging on debt limit deal and his actions this weekend are all the reasons.”

UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023 · 3:27:59 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Virginia, is one of the vulnerable Frontline Democrats, and often speaks for them. She’s definitely not going to help McCarthy.

“He’s a man who cannot be trusted. He’s a man who has excused the inexcusable time and time and time again. He is in this circumstance because he was willing to give up and negotiate anything to become speaker. So I think anyone who thinks it might be some sort of strategy for Frontliners to try and help McCarthy is kind of fundamentally misunderstanding the fact that to us, nothing is more important than our principles.’

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz finally made good on his threats Monday afternoon, quietly filing his motion to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The rules of Congress say that the issue has to be dealt with within two days, though there are a few ways that can go.

McCarthy was typically, inexplicably confident Tuesday morning going into a closed-door meeting of his whole conference, telling reporters he was ready to have the motion come up Tuesday and following through in the meeting by informing members the vote will happen in the first vote series early Tuesday afternoon.

This is the first time since 1910 that the motion will be considered on the floor. It’s been threatened a few times since but never deployed, in part because it’s hard to pull off. It’s a simple majority vote, and the numbers are everything today—how many of Gaetz’s hard-liner supporters will vote with him, how many members are on the floor at the time, and where the Democrats land.

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House Democrats also met Tuesday morning to decide whether they give McCarty any help on this one. McCarthy reached out to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries Monday night but would not negotiate for his support. "They haven't asked for anything. I'm not going to provide anything," he said early Tuesday. McCarthy insists that the issue is not about him but about the institution, and that that should be enough for Democrats to help him out. “I think this is a question to the institution itself. I know in the past, the other leaders together believed that this should never be in play.”

In an MSNBC appearance Tuesday morning, Jeffries had no comment beyond saying, "We are in the midst of a Republican civil war and it is undermining the ability of the congress to solve problems on behalf of hardworking taxpayers.” Jeffries might ask for his members to vote—or abstain from voting—as a bloc, or tell them to vote their conscience. If it’s the latter, McCarthy should worry because Democrats have an extensive list of reasons why the man can’t be trusted, from his vote to overturn the 2020 election, to his reneging on the debt ceiling deal he made with President Joe Biden, to his capitulation to hard-liners on Biden’s impeachment. The capper happened Sunday, after Democrats saved his bacon by giving him the votes to avert a government shutdown. McCarthy went on “Face the Nation” and told host Margaret Brennan that Democrats “tried to do everything” to force a shutdown of the federal government.

So how will this go Tuesday afternoon? There are a few possibilities. They could put Gaetz’s motion immediately to a vote. From there, it’s up or down on McCarthy by a simple majority of those present and voting. Either he wins, or he loses. Or there could first be a motion to table Gaetz’s resolution, or to refer it to a committee that will bury it. If the motion to table passes, McCarthy survives. If it fails, they then vote on Gaetz’s motion, and we’re back to the simple majority to save him or boot him. He can afford to lose only four votes if every House member is present and voting.

As of Tuesday morning, Gaetz had three likely supporters: Reps. Bob Good of Virginia, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, and Eli Crane of Arizona. There were a handful known to be leaning toward booting McCarthy: Reps. Matt Rosendale of Montana, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

You can follow along with all the action this afternoon in live coverage at Daily Kos.


Matt Gaetz files motion to oust McCarthy. Will Democrats join the effort or save his hide?

Chaos reigns in House as hard-liners plot McCarthy ouster

The Gaetz-McCarthy feud gets even nastier as shutdown looms

Will Democrats save Kevin McCarthy’s job?

The day after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s astonishing capitulation that allowed Democrats to once more save the day and keep the government funded, Rep. Matt Gaetz was in front of the cameras promising that he would move to oust McCarthy this week. It’s not clear how much support the Florida man has among the other hard-liners in the Republican conference, but it could be a dozen or more, according to House conservatives. That means McCarthy’s fate is absolutely in Democrats’ hands. He can survive only if Democrats help him, and as of now, they’re not inclined to do that.

President Joe Biden isn’t going to go out of his way to help, telling reporters that it’s up to House Democratic leadership to decide if they want to bail McCarthy out again. Biden then turned the screws on McCarthy with a direct statement telling McCarthy to step up on funding for Ukraine, which was left out of the stopgap government funding bill.

While the majority of Congress has been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, the bipartisan bill has no funding to continue it. We can't allow this to be interrupted. I expect the Speaker to keep his word and secure the passage of support for Ukraine at this critical moment.

— President Biden (@POTUS) October 1, 2023

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries remains noncommittal. Last week, he told reporters his team hadn’t “given any thought to how to handle a hypothetical motion to vacate, because we are entirely focused on making sure that we avoid this extreme MAGA Republican shutdown.” On Sunday, Minority Whip Katherine Clark sent a letter to all House Democrats, putting them on notice that as soon as Gaetz drops his motion on the floor, there will be a “Caucus wide discussion on how to address the motion to best meet the needs of the American people,” and telling them to keep their schedules flexible so they “may be present for these important votes should they occur.”

It’s likely many Democrats will take their lead from House Speaker-emerita Nancy Pelosi, who has reportedly warned Jeffries and other Democrats against helping McCarthy, saying he can’t be trusted. Her advice has been to make the Republicans figure this out on their own. Democrats will, however, have to do something, even if it’s doing nothing.

Here’s how it works: Once Gaetz makes the motion to vacate, leadership has two days to schedule a vote on it. The motion to vacate is a privileged resolution, which means that it doesn’t have to go through the Rules Committee to be scheduled, and that it has to be considered once it’s put on the floor. There is an option, called the “Question of consideration,” that could be used to kill the vote. Any member can call for it, and if a majority votes to kill Gaetz’s motion, that’s how they’d do it.

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At that point, Democrats would have the option of helping Republicans by voting for the question and killing the motion to vacate, not voting or voting “present,” or voting against the question and with Gaetz. The problem for Republican leadership with this option is that it doesn’t stop Gaetz from coming back again and again with his motion to vacate. Because of that, Republican leadership might just decide to go ahead with the vote on McCarty’s ouster.

So here’s where the potential dealmaking with Democrats comes in, and so far, Democrats are playing it pretty smart. Gaetz has reached out to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and at least one of them—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—says she’d “absolutely” vote for the motion to vacate.

However, she continued, there’s room for negotiation for Democratic help bailing McCarthy out. “I certainly don’t think that we would expect to see that unless there’s a real conversation between the Republican and Democratic caucuses and Republican Democratic leadership about what that would mean, but I don’t think we give up votes for free,” she said.

Another progressive, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, told CNN that McCarthy has to be held to account for “pushing an extreme agenda and enabling extremists in his party” and therefore, “by refusing to support a motion to vacate, we are endorsing this extremism, and that is something that the residents in my district will not stand for. The American people are tired of the fact that the GOP is incapable of governing.”

That’s leverage—with enough of the progressives saying they’ll help Gaetz, McCarthy will need to negotiate. He’s opened the door on cutting a deal, saying, “I think this is about the institution. I think it's too important.” He’s also suggested that he’d consider changing the rules package to try to keep Gaetz from bringing the motion repeatedly.

Opening up the rules package could mean some significant changes to help the Democrats, including giving them additional seats on the powerful Rules Committee, where the Republicans have an outsized majority. They could argue for rules that allow more power-sharing.

That’s a start, since McCarthy has opened the door. But it’s not sufficient. Democrats should hold out for the maximum they can: funding for Ukraine, adherence to the budget agreement McCarthy and Biden agreed to earlier in the year, and ceasing the ridiculous Biden impeachment.

House Democrats saved the day on Saturday when 209 of them voted to keep the government operating. Just 126 Republicans stepped up to join them. Those competing numbers have to be thrown in McCarthy’s face every chance Democrats’ get—it’s leverage they have to use to the maximum.

Live coverage: The government shutdown clock is ticking

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blinked Saturday morning, doing an about-face on government funding. He abandoned the hard-right provisions in his last government funding bill and offered a stripped-down version of the Senate’s proposed continuing resolution. The new CR includes 45 days of continued funding, but strips out Ukraine funding.

That all sounds fine, except that McCarthy dropped this bill on House Democrats and told them the vote would be held immediately, and Democrats have found multiple issues in the short bill during a delay they created by asking for the House to adjourn. Democrats continue to object to being jammed by McCarthy, and the House is now delaying a vote, with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries holding the floor using his “magic minute,” the unlimited debate time afforded to leadership. The Senate was supposed to have started work on its CR at 1 p.m. ET, but is also in a holding pattern, waiting to see what the House does.

As a matter of tactics, Senate and House Democrats should defeat this continuing resolution. McCarthy has already blinked, deciding a government shutdown is more damaging than a vote on his leadership. They should push their advantage.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 7:00:13 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Democrats just saved McCarthy’s butt, by the way. The vote was 335-91, with 209 Dems and 126 Republicans voting for it, 90 GOP noes. Now comes the fight over McCarthy’s speakership, and Democrats need to use this to get some concessions from him before they help. First, he has abide by the debt ceiling agreement on appropriations and  a mechanism to avoid another shutdown fight next year. Second, no more impeachment crap.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:47:44 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The emerging Dem narrative. It’s true as far as it goes, and the defeat of the draconian cuts and racist border policies the GOP pushed yesterday is significant. The Senate could still fight for Ukraine.

MAGA Republicans have surrendered. All extreme right-wing policies have been removed from the House spending bill. The American people have won.

— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) September 30, 2023

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:43:50 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Smattering of applause on the floor as it hit the 2/3rds threshold of 290. So the question now is whether the Senate will prioritize Ukraine over having the rest of their weekend free, and swallow it. Judging by the response there so far, they’ll vote for their weekend. We’ll see if they have any objections to the other stuff the House stripped out from/snuck into their bill.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:35:03 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

And that’s that. This is bad news for Ukraine.

NEWS: Jeffries telling Dems to vote for the CR

— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) September 30, 2023

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:33:32 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

McConnell reportedly pushed his conference to hold out for their bill, with Ukraine aid. He was overruled.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:31:15 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The House is voting now on the new funding bill. It needs 2/3rds to pass. Expect the majority of Dems to hold out on voting until they see how many Republicans oppose it. 

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:25:57 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

One hangup here for everyone, a provision regarding member pay that looks like a really sneaky move by the GOP to get a raise.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:23:02 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Senate GOP is now saying they won’t vote for the CR they negotiated, because they want to give McCarthy a chance to get this through. Majority Leader Schumer is reportedly postponing the next procedural vote to see what happens in the House.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:19:01 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Jeffries wrapped, after an impassioned speech. “You dropped this bill at the eleventh hour today and gave  the American people minutes to evaluate it. That's unacceptable,” he told Republicans. General debate is now continuing. It’s under suspension of the rules, so it needs 2/3rds to pass. It’s not at all clear right now what the majority of Democrats will do.

Chaos reigns in House as hard-liners plot McCarthy ouster

There can never be too much chaos for Rep. Matt Gaetz and his malignant cohorts. With this weekend’s government shutdown now seeming inevitable, the Florida Republican and some of his unnamed compatriots are plotting to try to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as early as next week, according to The Washington Post.

A shutdown isn’t enough disruption, nor is their trainwreck of an impeachment inquiry inquiry, so these hard-liners want to make the House an even more ridiculously dysfunctional place. There’s a real underpants-gnome vibe to the endeavor, with phase two of the plot—whom they’ll replace McCarthy with—currently a mystery. The only name seriously floated to the Post is Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who told the Post, “I fully support Speaker McCarthy. He knows that and I know that. … I have zero interest in palace intrigue. End of discussion.”

The other question is whether they’re capable of pulling it off. The House procedure is called a “motion to vacate,” and it has been voted on only once in American history—and it failed. In 1910, Speaker Joseph Cannon survived the vote, though his leadership was weakened. Later, in 1997, rebels plotting against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich talked about using it, but they never filed the motion. The only other time the motion has been filed was in 2015, when then-Rep. Mark Meadows (yeah, that Mark Meadows) filed it against then-Speaker John Boehner, but it was never deployed. Boehner ultimately resigned.

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A successful motion to vacate is clearly not an easy thing to pull off. Is this the crew that will make history and be the first to succeed? It’s just possible that McCarthy and team are hapless enough that it could happen. But what the hard-liners should worry about are the potential consequences: empowered Democrats.

McCarthy has brushed off any suggestion of getting help from Democrats to save his speakership, and in turn, Democrats aren’t in a hurry to rush to his defense. "I cannot imagine him paying the price that it would take for us to bail him out," Rep. Jared Huffman of California told Axios.

That price would be steep. "We want to get disaster aid out, we want to continue our support for Ukraine, and we want them to end this sham of an impeachment inquiry," Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts told Politico last week. "If Kevin McCarthy chooses to ... get back to work for the American people, to do the right thing, we're going to be there to, you know, meet and compromise with him."

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is playing it very cool. He rejected “the notion that any of us would be dealing with inside parlor games when we’re trying to stop the extreme MAGA Republicans,” according to Axios. “I haven’t given it any thought,” he added.

McCarthy needs 217 votes out of his current 221-seat majority to save his speakership. (There are two vacancies in the House.) Presuming Gaetz can count, he won’t bring the motion to vacate unless he’s got four Republican members on his side willing to abandon McCarthy so the ploy can potentially succeed. However, Gaetz can’t and shouldn’t count on Democrats to help him—they can sit this one out by voting “present,” or they can vote to keep McCarthy.

That puts a lot of power into the hands of the 212 Democrats and the “Biden 18”—the freshmen Republicans in districts President Joe Biden won in 2020. If just four of them play their cards right—and cross the aisle on a vote—they could find themselves in a fairly comfortable position with Speaker Hakeem Jeffries. At the very least, they wouldn’t be blamed for the next government shutdown.

It’s a long shot that any of this ends with a Democratic speaker, but the only thing that’s predictable amid the chaos in the House is the unpredictable.


Republican incompetence sets the stage for a Sunday government shutdown

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It’s only a matter of time before tensions in the House Republican conference boil over into a physical brawl. For now, they’re just verbal fights, like Freedom Caucus guy Eli Crane of Arizona fundraising by calling his colleagues who don’t want to shut down the government “squishes,” and those other members taking exception to it.

Others have been threatening to help primary members like freshman Rep. Mike Lawler of New York, who threatens them back, saying (according to CNN’s chyron) that they’re “stuck on stupid.”

GOP Rep. Mike Lawler on Republicans warning against working with Democrats: “Bring it. Give me a break. I’m in a district that Joe Biden won by 10 points...I was elected to be an adult, to be serious, to be sober and to govern." pic.twitter.com/KxcQv0mPGa

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 27, 2023

Some of these would-be moderates are threatening to work with Democrats. “If you got five to 10 holdouts, you’ve got to have a bipartisan bill, just by definition with a four-seat majority. So, I know we got to reach across the aisle and make this work,” Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said after a Wednesday conference meeting.

So far, House Democrats appear happy to watch the melee from the sidelines, not feeling any particular need to make life easier for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who reneged on the budget deal he had agreed to with President Joe Biden. “Every Democrat on the [Appropriations] committee felt betrayed” by McCarthy, Rep. David Trone of Maryland said recently.

The Democrats have power, though McCarthy isn’t acknowledging that. He needs them to solve the shutdown impasse because he simply doesn’t have Republican votes to do it. After he surely gets their help rescuing the government, he’ll need help saving his own political skin and fighting off a hard-liner attempt to oust him.

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“The only person concerned about Kevin McCarthy keeping his job is Kevin McCarthy,” House Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts told Politico. “House Democrats are having one conversation: how to deliver for the American people. That means preventing a reckless shutdown and stopping devastating cuts to the programs they rely on.”

Once the nihilist Republicans get what they want and force a shutdown, what should Democrats extract from McCarthy—and from the so-called moderate Republicans who are looking for their help—to fix it? That’s precisely what Democratic leadership should be mulling right now. Especially if Republicans move to oust McCarthy.

Democrats should start with a big ask from those Republicans who want their help: a power-sharing agreement with Democrats that puts Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries in the speaker’s chair. After all, he consistently won more votes for speaker than McCarthy did through the 15-round vote marathon. The Republicans’ tiny margin of just five votes, and at least half a dozen ready to kick McCarthy out at any given moment, make McCarthy’s continued tenure iffy at best. Jeffries in the chair could give the majority of the Republican conference some occasional wins, something they won’t get from McCarthy.

There’s also the question of who else among the Republicans would want the job. The answer is no one. Jeffries is the obvious choice.

Assuming that Jeffries doesn’t want (or get) the job and that McCarthy comes to him for help in saving the government and keeping his speakership, what should Democrats demand then?

  1. An end to the Biden impeachment farce.

  2. McCarthy has to abide by the budget agreement he made with Biden to resolve the debt ceiling.

  3. McCarthy fully funds disaster relief and provides aid to Ukraine.

  4. McCarthy puts legislation in place to prevent another government shutdown next year on the floor.

Those should be the minimum demands. Doing those things would allow Congress and the government to operate at a functional level for the next year. It’s not too much to ask in a rational world. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine McCarthy, still in thrall of the Freedom Caucus, stepping up to that level of basic competence.


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