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Cup of Joe – January 4, 2023

The House of Representatives voted to adjourn until 12 p.m. tomorrow after three rounds of voting failed to elect a new Speaker.

No members have been sworn in yet and can’t be until a Speaker is elected.

Ballots will continue until someone gets a majority of votes — but it’s not clear how long that might take.

In each of the three rounds, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries received 212 votes (every Democrat, who are in array), while Republican Kevin McCarthy received 203 votes in the first two rounds and then 202 votes in the third round. In the first round, the anti-Kevin vote was spread among several other Republicans, but in the second and third round, the 19 and then 20 anti-Kevin votes went to Jim Jordan of Ohio.

In conversations with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on the House floor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was told that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told members of his caucus that Democrats would walk away from the chamber to lower the threshold McCarthy would need to be elected speaker, ABC News reports.

But Ocasio-Cortez told them: “We would never do that.”

Democrats don’t have any plans to work across the aisle with moderate Republicans lawmakers to elect a “consensus speaker,” the Washington Post reports.

“Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries may not emerge with the speakership as Republicans remain divided on who they’ll elect to lead the House of Representatives, but he’s done something that hasn’t been done in more than a decade,” NBC News reports.

“When the New York congressman secured 212 votes for speaker Tuesday afternoon, it was the first time since 2007 that a Democratic leader has won support from every single member of their caucus.”

Tim Miller: “For years Kevin McCarthy, a blow-dried, donor-class Republican, has tried to maintain a hold on his increasingly bedraggled, QAnon-class conference by prostrating himself before Donald Trump—in increasingly ostentatious ways, so as to prove to his flock that he was an authentic convert to the One True Church of MAGA.”

“McCarthy calculated that this public self-abasement would be worth it because he would be rewarded in the end with the gavel and bust he had long coveted.”

“This afternoon he was rewarded instead with the type of humiliation we have not seen on the House floor in a century: Being forced to smirk through repeated public beatings at the hands of his own members.”

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) slammed GOP lawmakers who said they plan to oppose Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in his bid for Speaker, calling the conservatives holding out against McCarthy “kamikazes” trying to “sink the whole Republican Party,” The Hill reports.

Said Gingrich: “These guys can’t count straight. They can’t play tic-tac-toe. They can’t accept victory. To undermine him is to undermine conservatism, undermine the Republican Party and, frankly, undermine the country.”

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sounded the alarm on Monday in regard to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) chances of becoming House speaker.

Said Chaffetz: “I don’t know that Kevin McCarthy can do anything else than he has. He has done he helped raise the most amount of money. I think everybody would say we really like Kevin. But he has he has actually given in to most of every demand that these people have asked for. So I don’t know where it where it’s going to go.”

He added: “Ultimately, these people answer not to Kevin McCarthy, not to the conference. They answer to their constituents. And that’s the problem and the rub. And I don’t know if he’s able to overcome that.”

“Just hours before the speakership vote, Kevin McCarthy’s opponents are warning they still aren’t ready to give him the support he needs,” Politico reports.

“With the House slated to start voting on who will command the gavel around midday Tuesday, McCarthy remains short of the necessary 218 votes. And his last-ditch efforts, including a long list of concessions he released to his conference over the weekend, has done little to sway his most ardent detractors.”

“In fact, there were further signs Monday that the California Republican’s bid is in deep trouble. The influential conservative group Club for Growth released a whip notice for the speakership vote, urging a no vote on McCarthy — without explicitly naming him — if he didn’t concede to various rules being pushed by some of those opposing him, many of them members of the House Freedom Caucus.”

USA Today: What happens if McCarthy can’t get votes needed for speaker? Here’s how the election works.

Punchbowl News: “McCarthy and his top aides remain optimistic that, given enough time, they can beat back the roughly dozen hardline conservative Republicans threatening his candidacy. McCarthy told reporters on Monday that today will be exciting and ‘good,’ although he didn’t elaborate on why…”

“Yet privately, some of the lawmakers closest to McCarthy continue to tell us that they don’t see a path for the California Republican to win the speakership. Not on the first ballot, or the second, or any subsequent ballots. Some McCarthy backers – lawmakers and aides in and outside the leadership – don’t believe he can or should stay on the floor for more than two rounds of votes before bowing out. One close ally of McCarthy pegged his chances of winning the speakership at 5%.”

“This isn’t to say that McCarthy can’t win. He can. McCarthy continued to negotiate with conservative hardliners into Monday evening, seeking a way to overcome their opposition…”

“But McCarthy is also running out of cards to play. In an even more troublesome sign, no matter what McCarthy gives away, hardline conservatives aren’t moving to his corner. In fact, they’re becoming more dug in against him.”

Playbook: “McCarthy still hasn’t clinched the votes he needs, and the day could drag late into the night, we’re told, as Republicans grapple with choosing their leader.”

“Be prepared for surprises and a lot of drama. Even veteran lawmakers who emerged from meetings with McCarthy on Monday evening weren’t entirely sure how this will all shake out. We’re told that McCarthy’s plan, however, is to continue voting — over and over again — in a bid to wear down his detractors until he gets the gavel.”

“But even McCarthy allies are now acknowledging he can’t win the first vote. One told us Monday night there are currently about a dozen members opposed.”

“Only hours before the vote, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California was still laboring on Tuesday to lock down the support he needed to be elected speaker, with ultraconservative holdouts showing no signs of backing down from what could become a chaotic floor fight at the dawn of the new House Republican majority,” the New York Times reports.

“The standoff hung over what was supposed to be a day of jubilation for Republicans, exposing deep divisions within the party as it embarks on its first week in power. It all but guaranteed that even if Mr. McCarthy eked out a victory, he would be a diminished speaker beholden to an empowered right flank.”

Washington Post: “If McCarthy fails to win the gavel on the first ballot Tuesday, it would be a historic loss: No leader vying for speaker has lost a first-round vote in a century.”

CNN: “Stubborn conservative resistance to House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has put the party at risk of precipitating the first speakership election that extends to more than a single ballot since 1923 – and only the second since the Civil War.”

“But even if McCarthy ultimately prevails, the show of strength from the GOP’s conservative vanguard has ensured it enormous leverage in shaping the party’s legislative and investigative agenda. And that could reinforce the image of extremism that hurt Republicans in the midterm election, especially in the key swing states likely to decide the next presidential contest – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona.”

Semafor: “If McCarthy can’t secure the gavel after the first ballot, House members will have to keep voting until they’ve picked somebody as speaker. His backers are promising to put up a fight. In a letter dated Friday, leaders of the 70-member Republican Main Street Caucus said their group was ‘prepared to vote for him for as long as it takes.’”

“Some backers say they have limits, however. One relatively ardent McCarthy supporter told Semafor that they would probably be willing to go up to 12 rounds of voting, which would likely last between 3 and 4 days. The aide to another, slightly less ardent supporter said their member would be willing to sit through 3 to 4 rounds, or about a day’s worth of action.”

“Meanwhile, a senior Republican staffer said aides were whispering that members might only tolerate just one or two rounds of voting before sitting down to try and strike a backroom deal on a compromise candidate.”

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) put out a statement that suggests he won’t vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker. Until now, Perry had claimed he was an “honest broker” open to backing McCarthy.

Brendan Buck: “The House is a majoritarian institution, and a speaker’s power is ultimately derived from the ability to produce the 218 minimum votes needed to do business.”

“If Republicans are unable to muster the votes for a speaker, it will make very clear from the outset they cannot be counted on to fulfill the body’s basic responsibilities, such as funding the government and preventing a credit default by lifting the debt ceiling, both of which will be required this year.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss is keeping a head of lettuce handy as the next House Speaker takes office — whoever it turns out to be.

“I’m not going to go away. I’m going to stand until the last four friends stand with me.” — Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), quoted by Punchbowl News, in a closed House GOP caucus meeting.

Charlie Sykes: “Today was supposed to be the GOP’s celebration of the Red Wave, a moment of triumph and anticipation. Instead, we are likely to get a shitshow for the ages from an unruly, dysfunctional political party that is obviously not all that interested in governing…”

“Time after time, the man who would be speaker tried to shrink himself into the office, and is ending his bid by offering multiple concessions to the bomb-throwers in the caucus who will hold him hostage if he survives…”

“But it’s chaos either way, isn’t it? McCarthy is a hollow man and a weak leader, and his caucus is now in the process of testing just how weak he is. One of the most powerful speakers in House history is about to be replaced by one of the puniest.”

In a private meeting yesterday, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Scott Perry (R-PA) told Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that they don’t mind if the speaker vote goes to plurality and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is elected because they will fight him, Punchbowl News reports.

Brendan Buck: “The agitators’ objective isn’t to win the speakership for one of their own; it is to weaken Mr. McCarthy or whoever emerges as the next speaker of the House. The embarrassment indeed may be the point.”

Jake Sherman: “The vibe in the GOP leadership right now is that it’s time to have the fight with the House Freedom Caucus that has been brewing for 12 years. Will McCarthy end up as speaker? Who knows. This speaker fight can go a long long time.”

This shows why it’s impossible for McCarthy to negotiate with these people.

“The Jan. 6 select committee has unloaded a vast database of its underlying evidence — emails between Trump attorneys, text messages among horrified White House aides and outside advisers, internal communications among security and intelligence officials — all coming to grips with Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to subvert the 2020 election and its disastrous consequences,” Politico reports.

“The panel posted thousands of pages of evidence late Sunday in a public database that provide the clearest glimpse yet at the well-coordinated effort by some Trump allies to help Trump seize a second term he didn’t win. Much of the evidence has never been seen before and, in some cases, adds extraordinary new elements to the case the select committee presented in public — from voluminous phone records to contemporaneous text messages and emails.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told ABC News that Jan. 6 should disqualify Trump from holding office again.  Said Hutchinson: “I do not believe that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States. I think he’s had his opportunity there. I think Jan. 6 really disqualifies him for the future.”  He added: “I want to see everything I can do to make sure there is the alternative, and that Donald Trump is not the not the nominee of the party. That’s the first thing. And let’s figure out how to do that.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told CNN he feared for the future of the country if Donald Trump isn’t charged and convicted for his actions related to the Capitol insurrection.

Said Kinzinger: “If he is not guilty of a crime, then I frankly fear for the future of this country, because now every future president can say, ‘Hey, here’s the bar.’ And the bar is do everything you can to stay in power.”

“And all of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed… We all look like domestic terrorists now.” — Trump aide Hope Hicks, quoted by The Hill, in a text message to a fellow aide during the January 6 insurrection.

“Republicans are attempting to pass a new House rule to block materials compiled by the panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection from immediately going to the National Archives,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Although the House committee investigating the insurrection has released a trove of transcripts and underlying information backing up its report, the vast majority of raw information the panel collected is slated to be sent to the National Archives, where it could be locked away for up to 50 years.”

“But the proposed rules package the new Congress will vote on Tuesday orders that any record created by the panel must instead be sent to the House Committee on House Administration by Jan. 17 and orders the National Archives to return any material it has already received.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “officially broke the record for longest serving Senate leader on Tuesday,” Politico reports.

“In his floor remarks to open the new Congress, McConnell paid tribute to the last Senate leader to hold the record: Democratic Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana, who served as Majority Leader for 16 years.”

“When Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) takes his seat in Congress on Tuesday, he will do so under the shadow of active investigations by federal and local prosecutors into potential criminal activity during his two congressional campaigns,” the New York Times reports.

“But an older criminal case may be more pressing: Brazilian law enforcement authorities intend to revive fraud charges against Mr. Santos, and will seek his formal response.”

“The matter, which stemmed from an incident in 2008 regarding a stolen checkbook, had been suspended for the better part of a decade because the police were unable to locate him.”

If the police are looking for you, it’s probably not wise to run for Congress.

New York Times: “He is to arrive on Capitol Hill for what is shaping up as a chaotic opening day of the 118th Congress, perhaps as the most notorious member of a new House Republican majority that is toiling to overcome deep divisions as it assumes control and the speakership is still up in the air.”

“It will most likely be an awkward moment for Mr. Santos, who will get his first taste of navigating the Capitol and its all-permeating press corps in the midst of a scandal of his own making.”

“He is under the shadow of active investigations by federal and local prosecutors into potential criminal activity during his two congressional campaigns.”

USA Today: What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos, who lied ahead of winning his election?

New York Times: “What can arguably be called the Pelosi era in Washington comes to a close at noon on Tuesday as Republicans assume control of the House and Ms. Pelosi finally retreats to the rank and file where, she insists, she does not intend to be a meddling mother-in-law offering unsolicited advice.”

“But her presence will be felt for years in the climate, health care, public works and social legislation she ushered through to signatures by two Democratic presidents, as well as the big moments of her tenure capped off by the electrifying invitation to Volodymyr Zelensky to address Congress just days before she lost the gavel.”

“The new leadership of both parties will find it daunting to try to match her performance and political reach, whatever their view of her policy agenda. Ms. Pelosi, the first female speaker, carved a singular path.”

“What would I have done differently? Won more elections and not given Republicans the power to do what they did. Make sure that a creature like Donald Trump never became president of the United States.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quoted by the Washington Post.

New York Times: “One vital test Mr. Biden faces is making all his new economic laws work as intended. Much of his economic legacy will depend on how effectively his administration allocates trillions of dollars in spending and tax incentives contained in the economic bills that Mr. Biden signed into law during his first two years in office.”

“Across the White House and several agencies, officials are trying to stretch dollars to meet Mr. Biden’s ambitious goals, including making high-speed internet available to everyone in the country, replacing all lead pipes that carry drinking water and building out a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations. In those cases and many others, officials are working with far less money than the president had initially proposed, a side effect of the compromises he accepted to win bipartisan support to enact his agenda.”

“A top Chinese public-health official warned of widespread Covid-19 outbreaks across the country’s more vulnerable rural areas as millions of citizens prepare to travel home for the coming Lunar New Year holiday,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Public-health experts are sounding the alarm about a new Omicron variant dubbed XBB that is rapidly spreading across the Northeast U.S. Some studies suggest it is as different from the original Covid strain from Wuhan as the 2003 SARS virus. Should Americans be worried?”

“It isn’t clear that XBB is any more lethal than other variants, but its mutations enable it to evade antibodies from prior infection and vaccines as well as existing monoclonal antibody treatments. Growing evidence also suggests that repeated vaccinations may make people more susceptible to XBB and could be fueling the virus’s rapid evolution.”

Shashank Joshi at the Economist on Three scenarios for how war in Ukraine could play out. 

“The best one for Ukraine is also the most dangerous. 

The third scenario is the most encouraging—and perhaps the most dangerous. Ukraine keeps the initiative and the momentum, inflicting heavy damage on Russian forces as they leave Kherson and then bringing its long-range himars rockets within range of Crimea for the first time. Russian lines in Luhansk collapse, with Ukraine recapturing Severodonetsk and then quickly moving farther east. As Russian casualties mount, new recruits refuse to fight. Western countries rush new air-defence systems to Ukraine, blunting the impact of Russia’s terror tactics, based on its rapidly dwindling arsenal of precision missiles.

In the spring Mr Zelensky orders his army to open a new front in Zaporizhia. Five brigades slice through Russian lines, cutting Mr Putin’s land bridge to Crimea and encircling Mariupol by the summer. Ukraine moves its himars rocket launchers into the south, targeting ports, bases and depots in Russian-occupied Crimea. Ukraine threatens to enter the peninsula. Mr Putin issues an ultimatum: stop, or face the use of nuclear weapons. Victory is within sight. But so, too, are the risks that it brings.”

“Donald Trump rang in the New Year on Saturday night with hundreds of Mar-a-Lago members and a few political cronies,” the Palm Beach Post reports.

“In past years, Hollywood celebrities have attended Trump’s annual, A-list New Year’s Eve party at the Palm Beach club. But this year, the most notable, high-profile figures attending the opulent black tie and long gown gala were from the former president’s political orbit, including pollster Dick Morris, legal advisor Rudy Giuliani and pillow maker Mike Lindell. All walked the red carpet but did not comment about Trump or their expectations for 2023.”

“Trump’s second-oldest son, Eric, and his wife, Lara, attended as well. However, it did not appear two other adult children who figured prominently in Trump’s political endeavors, Donald, Jr., and daughter Ivanka, were at the event.”

Donald Trump offered a “media availability” at Mar-a-Lago on New Year’s eve and not a single cable news outlet — including Fox News and Newsmax — covered it, the HuffPost reports.  However, fringe conservative media outlet Right Side Broadcasting Network posted a video of Trump speaking for just minutes to what sounded like a very few reporters outside.

Richard Nixon’s White House counsel John Dean told CNN that the January 6 Committee’s case against Donald Trump is “overwhelming.” Said Dean: “It’s really going to be a question of do we prosecute a former president, not whether we can — and have it nailed, which I think they do.”

“President Joe Biden pardoned six individuals Friday who had already completed sentences for their offenses, including drug-related crimes and second-degree murder, and had become active in their communities following their release,” CNN reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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