After four grueling days and 15 votes, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is finally Speaker of the House – but not without having made a pile of concessions to a group of hard-line Republicans who think he’ll be too accommodating to uniparty interests.
The last vote came after a dramatic scene, where during the 14th vote Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) threw a wrench in the gears – voting ‘present,’ which left McCarthy just one vote short of victory.
McCarthy – who clearly thought he had a deal, stormed up to Gaetz and exchanged words, during which a visibly angry Rep. Mike Rodgers bolted towards Gaetz and had to be muzzled and restrained.
Kevin McCarthy approaches Gaetz and Boebert because he needed 216 votes to win. pic.twitter.com/o6VBsbwVVV
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) January 7, 2023
Rodgers lunged at Gaetz? pic.twitter.com/THHpZA4XjQ
— Elizabeth Wachsberg (@EWachsberg) January 7, 2023
During the final, 15th ballot, enough holdouts voted ‘present’ to bring the total required number of votes low enough for McCarthy to finally win around midnight.
Here’s what McCarthy had to give up for the votes, according to The Epoch Times‘ Roger L. Simon, who interviewed first-year Congressman Andrew Ogles (R-TN), who has yet to be sworn in;
I spoke with Ogles by phone the night of Jan. 6, 2023, before the roll call vote during which, it was said, two of the remaining rejectionists who couldn’t accept McCarthy personally would absent themselves so that the magic number would be lowered and the new Speaker could go over the top.
Apropos, Ogles informed me that what many had guessed was true. His absence from voting in a previous round was also planned. He waited to see that all was going according to plan before stepping forward to flip his vote to McCarthy after the initial round.
For Ogles, the basis of all the negotiations was to establish the rules of the game in Congress that had been altered over the years beyond recognition. As he pointed out, the rules of a game almost always determine the winner.
He shared with me a list of some of what has been roughly negotiated to date. The devil, as always, is in the details.
- As has been reported, it will only take a single congressperson, acting in what is known as a Jeffersonian Motion, to move to remove the Speaker if he or she goes back on their word or policy agenda.
- A “Church” style committee will be convened to look into the weaponization of the FBI and other government organizations (presumably the CIA, the subject of the original Church Committee) against the American people.
- Term limits will be put up for a vote.
- Bills presented to Congress will be single subject, not omnibus with all the attendant earmarks, and there will be a 72-hour minimum period to read them.
- The Texas Border Plan will be put before Congress. From The Hill: “The four-pronged plan aims to ‘Complete Physical Border Infrastructure,’ ‘Fix Border Enforcement Policies,’ ‘Enforce our Laws in the Interior’ and ‘Target Cartels & Criminal Organizations.’”
- COVID mandates will be ended as will all funding for them, including so-called “emergency funding.”
- Budget bills would stop the endless increases in the debt ceiling and hold the Senate accountable for the same.
* * *
“It’s safe to say that we believe there ought to be specific, concrete limits on spending attached to a debt ceiling increase,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on Thursday.
“There will be no clean debt ceiling increase, that’s for sure,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), another anti-McCarthy lawmaker who was convinced to switch his vote due to the concessions.
No word from Ogles on committee assignments or agreements, however there are discussions on positions for members of the Freedom Caucus.
Also no word on whether the House will hold a different kind of Jan. 6 investigation, unless it’s going to be part of the new “Church” committee.
Meanwhile, The Hill notes that chairmanships on subcommittees are still going to need to be earned.
Another major concern for centrist Republicans throughout the week’s marathon negotiations was the conservatives’ push to win more subcommittee gavels for themselves — an idea that infuriated those already in line for those seats.
Bacon had called it “a non-starter,” particularly among the more moderate Republicans who have worked their way up the ladder into those seats.
“If you’re talking about chairmanships and things like that, they’re gonna have to still earn it,” Bacon said. “I call it affirmative action for [the] smallest of the caucuses to put them in leadership roles when they’ve not earned it. We believe in a merit-based system on the GOP side.”
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), who has served in the House since 2013, also highlighted the “seniority process” for chairmanships.
“Everybody has to work their way through the seniority process and earn positions on both committees and gavels and things of that nature,” she said. –The Hill
“These concessions have been agreed to by our conference, and ultimately I believe it’s going to lead to a more people-driven legislative process,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). “It’s about restoring more power and decision making to the members.”
Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland says McCarthy gave up too much.
“I think he gave away much more than I wish he’d given,” he said, adding “I think it does give to a small, willful faction of his caucus, a negative faction of his caucus, a faction of his caucus that has been almost uniformly obstructionist, more authority than they ought to have.”
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