‘Firing squad’ derails GOP in new Congress

It’s fair to say that many Republicans are expecting a smooth opening day. Instead, the House adjourned Monday without electing a Speaker.

“I see volatility there. [in the House] On me. We get a majority and then we start a circular firing squad,” Chen said. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), a leading member of the Republican Party. “Sen. McConnell certainly has his detractors. But he is a strong and consistent leader who cares about his members. This is what you need.

“I hope they can break the deadlock,” he added of his former House colleagues. “Also, I’m very glad I’m not back on the board. »

As McConnell celebrates passing Mike Mansfield’s 16th birthday as party leader, the Kentuckian has his own issues. He will lead the 49-seat minority and faced his first contested leadership race two months ago when he rebuffed a challenge from the senator. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). McConnell won that race hands down, but it was a reminder of the turmoil in a party that has thrown away several Senate and gubernatorial races that could be won in 2022.

Although Republicans won a majority in the House, the energy in that chamber proved far less stable than its Senate counterpart as it worked to elect a president on Tuesday. While legislation is slow with a divided Congress, Republican factions in the Senate and House should finally pull together, at least to keep the government lights on and raise the debt ceiling.

First you need to play House Bedlam.

“I guess they will eventually organize there because at some point everyone will realize that chaos is not a good alternative to start Congress,” said the House Whip. minority in the Senate. Jean Thune (RSD) “It’s clearly not a smooth transition. »

Former president Nancy Pelosi and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) both faced opposition in their last campaigns to lead the Democratic Party but ultimately came out on top. Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the new House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffreys (DN.Y.) has been unopposed in its recent leadership campaigns after outperforming in the midterm elections.

The two GOP leaders, on the other hand, faced infighting after the party lost the midterm election with the Democratic leader. Not to mention previous dramas, including the ousting of former speakers Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“Obviously not all Democrats like Pelosi,” Chen said. James Lankford (R-Okla.), another former House member. “Republicans are very independent. I think it’s going to be noisy for a day or two, then they’ll get the hang of it and we’ll be a country.

However, he admitted that the disruption of Congress was a “good drama” but that ultimately a “decision has to be made” on a new president. And bigger worries are just around the corner.

The thorniest deadline looming for Republicans is the debt ceiling, which regularly divides the GOP and could destabilize the economy — or worse. Ultimately, the GOP House will have to pass a bill that raises the debt ceiling, possibly sometime this year, and at least nine Republicans will have to break a filibuster to clear the Senate. A similar dynamic will emerge with this decline in public funding.

Beyond that, House Republicans will face pressure to pass conservative legislation — with only a few votes left — and push the Democratic Senate to consider it.

“Electing McCarthy as president may be the easiest thing he does all year. And then trying to pass legislation with a majority will be very difficult,” Chen said. John Corny (R-Texas). “Especially if you have people who aren’t particularly interested in making a legislative decision and who are more interested in getting their attention. »

McConnell clarified on Tuesday that he still supports McCarthy, saying in an interview that he is “pushing for him.” Many GOP senators expressed hope that in the end, McCarthy would win.

Still, there was a vague feeling among even minority Senate Republicans that tight margins in a divided chamber could force them into a leadership role for the GOP over the next two years.

“My big hope is that they will pull themselves together. It is very important that they learn to govern. We will do everything we can in the Senate to provide leadership,” Chen said. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), another member of the GOP leadership. “I think people in the Senate will be able to see consistent influence and understand more that even though we have differences, we can always find a way forward. »

Ernst opposed December’s $1.7 trillion government spending bill, which divided Republican leaders in the Senate and enlivened McCarthy’s campaign for president. The California native repeatedly lambasted the law during his House caucus campaign, even reaching out to GOP senators in December to make his point. Nine House Republicans ultimately voted in favor, a sign that the House and Senate GOP got it wrong not only in policy strategy, but also in the legislation that needs to pass.

McCarthy wanted a short-term spending bill to give him and his party more leverage in the new Congress, but Senate Republicans struck a deal with Senate Democrats to fund the government until september. Lots of GOPs The senators were visibly worried House Republicans may not have been organized enough to fund the government earlier this year, given the budding president hubbub.

Tuesday was worse than they thought. Given that confusion, Capito concluded that eliminating a possible closeout fight in February “would be a very smart move.”

Marianne Levine contributed to this report.

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