Cup of Joe – January 5, 2023

After a sixth round of voting, the House failed once again to elect a speaker.

The vote totals for the sixth round:

  • Hakeem Jeffries – 212
  • Kevin McCarthy – 201
  • Byron Donalds – 20
  • Other – 0
  • Present – 1

Once again, McCarthy was unable to move a single vote in his favor. Through the three rounds of votes on Wednesday, he lost one to the present column.

“The House voted Wednesday to adjourn for the second time of the day — as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he wanted more time to negotiate after six rounds of voting on the speakership resulted in deadlock,” Axios reports.

The Washington Post reports “the growing animosity and outright disdain left the country without a lower legislative chamber for the second day in a row.”

It will resume at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said “ongoing conversations” regarding the House Speaker’s race have “been more productive in the last two hours” than they have in a while and that “progress has been made,” The Hill reports.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) proposed several key concessions to the bloc of Republicans opposing him for speaker, including allowing just one member to call for a vote to oust the speaker, CNN reports.

In addition, he proposed allowing more members of the House Freedom Caucus to serve on the powerful Rules Committee.

Despite these concessions, McCarthy is still likely short of the 218 votes he needs to become speaker.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who has voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker, told CNN that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would be the next choice for speaker. Buck said he will not vote for McCarthy in future rounds of voting.

Said Buck: “At some point this needs to break loose. He either needs to make a deal to bring them over or he needs to step aside and give somebody else a chance to do that.”

“The frustration is through the roof. So, I do think, past today, it does really become disastrous. It turns the party into a laughingstock.”— Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), on Fox Business, on Republicans failing to elect a speaker.

“These fucking people. Now they’re just being clowns.” — Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), speaking to a reporter about the 20 Republicans who refuse to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Fox News that Donald Trump’s re-endorsement of Kevin McCarthy for speaker has not swayed his vote. Said Gaetz in a statement: “Sad! This changes neither my view of McCarthy, nor Trump, nor my vote.”

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who has repeatedly voted against Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker, told Roll Call that he wants McCarthy to devise a debt-limit deal suitable to fiscal conservatives.

Said Norman: “Is he willing to shut the government down rather than raise the debt ceiling? That’s a non-negotiable item.” It’s worth noting that the debt ceiling and government shutdowns have nothing to do with each other.

John Cassidy: “The irony is that McCarthy had already prostrated himself before the ultras, offering them a series of rule changes, one of which would allow just five representatives to force a vote on ousting the Speaker. Unsurprisingly, these entreaties failed. It is the essence of a revolution, especially one staged for social media and Fox News, that the revolutionaries cannot be bought off by members of the corrupt establishment…”

“This gradual substitution of theatric self-promotion for serious politics has been ongoing ever since Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, and Tuesday’s events merely represented its logical culmination: a newly elected House Republican majority reduced to a rabble incapable of performing the basic function of selecting a leader.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a key ally of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), told the Washington Post that if Republicans can’t agree, he thinks they should go to Democrats to find the votes to elect a speaker. Said Fitzpatrick: “We can’t be members-elect for two years. The fever’s got to break somehow.”

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) told the Boston Globe that he’s not interested in helping Republicans elect a speaker. Said Neal: “Let everybody watch. They told everybody during the campaign that they were going to put together a governing majority.”

“We haven’t had any outreach… We’re looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction.”— Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), quoted by Semafor, when asked if Democrats would consider supporting a Republican for speaker.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) downplayed the idea of Democrats working with moderate Republicans to support a unity candidate for speaker,” Punchbowl News reports. Said Aquilar: “We would look at that, but I haven’t seen any proof that Republicans are willing to engage.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told the Daily Beast that she could be open to working with Republicans to elect a speaker, but not for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

She added that Democrats would need significant concessions — such as getting some committee chairs.

President Biden called the fight unfolding in the race for House speaker “embarrassing,” Politico reports. Said Biden: “With regards to the fight over the Speaker… that’s not my problem. I just think it’s a little embarrassing that it’s taking so long.”

Playbook: “Republicans’ talk of a unity candidate is more scare tactic than genuine plan, at least as of now. It’s still primarily a threat wielded by McCarthy allies in order to force the hardliners to fold.”

“Concessions to the holdouts haven’t swayed them yet — would the prospect of a moderate speaker change the calculus?”

Washington Post: “Instead of winning 218 votes — he only has 202 at the moment — he said Tuesday night that he only needs 213. That is one more vote than the 212 tallied by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the Democratic leader. The thinking is that a handful of Republicans could vote present or not vote during roll call, which would lower the threshold for the votes needed to be selected speaker.”

Said McCarthy: “You just have to get more votes than 212, where the Democrats are.”

“They’re like children. This is such a childish attempt at gaining attention… This is about petty, personal issues that they have, or petty attempts to gain notoriety. It’s unbelievably frustrating and they should be held accountable for it by the American people.”— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), quoted by CNN, on the 20 Republicans who refuse to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker. 

Josh Hudder: “McCarthy’s opponents have neither identifiable policy preferences nor specific demands. He has to buy them up individually.”

“That takes (1) time; and (2) more time. and (3) lots of promises.”

“This is an utter, unmitigated disaster. Chaos tends to bring about chaos until it no longer brings about chaos. We’re a long way from the point at which chaos stops bringing around more chaos.” — Karl Rove, quoted by the Washington Examiner, on House Republicans being unable to elect a speaker.

Charlie Sykes: “Historians should note that the party that lost control of the House brought popcorn to the ceremony. The party that ‘won,’ blew itself up. And then did it again. And again. And then left for a night of pizza, bitterness, and recriminations.”

“Meanwhile, the MAGA crackup accelerated as crackpots fought with nihilists, wingnuts pointed fingers at extremists, and grifters started slap-fights with one another.”

Former Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said the idea of his serving as Speaker is “an intriguing suggestion,” and he’d be willing to do “to put an end to the dysfunction that is doing damage to the country,” according to the Detroit News.

Said Upton: “I would need Democrats. I could get a significant number of Republicans.”

Noah Berlatsky: “McCarthy’s failure here is personal. He has spent more than two years kowtowing to Trump and bending over backward to appease MAGA extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and all he got for it (at least so far) was Tuesday’s once-in-a-century public degradation.”

“But it’s also an indication that the GOP is badly broken. As they’ve become more and more divorced from reality, Republicans have lost interest not just in compromise, but in policy and governing. Members are focused on personal grudges and on posturing as True Conservatives. They don’t really care if the House passes anything, ever. When humiliating whomever is in charge is the only policy goal, it becomes very difficult for any GOP speaker to lead such a narrow, fickle, and extremist majority.”

The inability of House Republicans to elect a speaker isn’t just about Kevin McCarthy. It’s true he doesn’t really stand for anything. It’s true he’s despised by many conservatives. It’s true many GOP lawmakers don’t trust him.

But for nearly three decades now, the House GOP leadership has repeatedly caved to the radical fringe of the party. As a result, that fringe has grown and it’s become more empowered.

That’s how we got extended government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018-19. It’s why so many fear a looming standoff over the debt ceiling.

The Republican mainstream has ducked open confrontation with the radical right for years. John Boehner quit as speaker, and Paul Ryan retired, without ever forcing a fight. 

Kevin McCarthy is vowing to fight to become speaker “for as long as it takes.” His odds don’t look great.

But win or lose, the Republican party is at war with itself. And it won’t be resolved no matter who is elected speaker.

Donald Trump re-endorsed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker after “some really good conversations took place last night.”  Said Trump: “Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!”

He then urged Republicans to fight Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “and his domineering, China loving BOSS, I mean wife, Coco Chow. The harm they have done to the Republican Party is incalculable.”

Donald Trump on Truth Social:  “There is so much unnecessary turmoil in the Republican Party, in large part do to people like the Old Broken Crow, Mitch McConnell, his ‘wife’, Coco Chow, who is a sellout to China, and their RINO allies, who make it difficult for everyone else by constantly capitulating to Hopeless Joe Biden and the Democrats.”

This came after his silence yesterday, where he declined to say whether he still supports his longtime ally after he failed to clinch the job in three separate votes, NBC News reports. Said Trump: “We’ll see what happens.” He added: “I got everybody calling me wanting my support. But let’s see what happens and we’ll go — I got everybody calling, wanting my support. That’s all I can say. But we’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it all works out.”

David Graham: Kevin McCarthy’s loyalty to Trump got him nothing.

Tara Palmeri: “One of the cruel ironies of all this is that McCarthy, who went to extraordinary lengths to placate Trump, is being stymied by card-carrying members of his MAGA movement. And where is Trump in McCarthy’s hour of need?”

“Actually, I’m told from sources close to him that he’s been burning up the phone for McCarthy, but his pleas don’t seem to be making any impact. Even Trump loyalist Matt Gaetz hasn’t been moved. Instead, I’m told, the recipients of Trump’s calls have rebutted his request to support Kevin with relentless flirtation and flattery, Trump’s ultimate love language, such as suggesting that he should be speaker. Naturally, this deactivated and neutralized the ‘24 presidential candidate.”

Playbook: “The House is now paralyzed, unable to swear in its members or form committees or adopt rules — let alone pass legislation. And the scary realization for the GOP rank-and-file is that there’s no easy way out of this mess and no sign that one is going to appear anytime soon.”

“Fact is, while this fight is over Kevin McCarthy, it’s about way more than Kevin McCarthy. Disagreement over governing tactics started brewing when John Boehner was speaker and only escalated after Paul Ryan succeeded him. Donald Trump’s election to the White House papered over those differences for a time and delayed a climactic showdown between the conservative hardliners eager to make fundamental change in Washington and the party leaders who see anarchy in their demands.”

“Indeed, at this point, it’s difficult to see a path to the gavel for McCarthy. As we reported Monday, his detractors have privately indicated that their lack of trust in him outweighs any rules, policy or personnel concession that he can offer. And one potential off-ramp McCarthy laid out last night — convincing a swath of members to vote ‘present,’ lowering the victory threshold — is, shall we say, speculative at best.”

“President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will make a rare joint appearance on Wednesday at a bridge in Kentucky in a display of bipartisanship that offers a guide to how the White House hopes to govern in months to come,” Reuters reports.

Washington Post: “Wednesday’s event also highlights a new turn in the long and complicated history between Biden and McConnell, who served together in the Senate for decades and were occasional negotiating partners during the Obama administration — on opposing ends of the political spectrum but not always at odds. There is a clear political incentive for the president to appear with a Republican viewed with hostility by many in the Democratic Party.”

Tara Palmeri: “Democrats are reveling in what they see as a national embarrassment of the Republican party. And if there’s any hope of wearing them out, you can bet against it.”

“More than 40 Democrats would need to give in to the urge to sleep or go back to their districts this weekend (if the vote goes that long) to give McCarthy any hope that the threshold for the majority could be lowered. (To minimize the number of Republicans needed to win the majority by one vote, two Democrats need to abstain from voting or vote present.) It’s a far-fetched possibility for what is becoming a running infomercial for their rival’s incompetence.”

“Staff throughout the West Wing wouldn’t cop to watching live coverage of Rep. Kevin McCarthy failing to get enough votes to become speaker of the House,” Politico reports.

“But make no mistake: this administration is about as distraught over all this as a flock of vultures happening upon a freshly killed gazelle. For whatever headaches a Republican-controlled House will create for President Joe Biden through investigations and its ability to control the floor, the disorder and rancor likely to characterize the new GOP majority, administration aides believe, will benefit the president politically.”

Politico: “On one side of the Capitol, GOP senators congratulated Mitch McConnell for officially becoming the longest-serving party leader in Senate history. At that exact moment on the other side of the building, Republicans voted down Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the House gavel — the first initial ballot defeat in a speaker’s race in 100 years.”

“It’s an ominous start to the new year for a GOP trying to rebuild. After another disappointing election cycle, they have significant challenges ahead: A tight majority in the House, another two years in the Senate minority and big divisions over just about everything, from former President Donald Trump to legislative strategy.”

Said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “The unsteadiness I see over there concerns me. We get the majority, and then we start a circular firing squad… I just hope they can overcome the dysfunction. And also, I’m very glad I’m not back in the House.”

As journalists continue to process the extraordinary volume of material released by the Jan. 6 committee, some more highlights:

  • Donald Trump called Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) six times on the day before the Capitol attack.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggested that the GOP-controlled state legislature could choose presidential electors.
  • Former Michigan GOP chair slammed fake elector plan as ‘insane.’ 
  • Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, deplored how the military was dragged into partisan fights during the Trump years.
  • The most intriguing revelations from Jan. 6 transcripts
  • 5 examples of how militant, conspiratorial movements have gained a toehold in mainstream GOP politics
  • The best (meaning worst) of Sidney Powell

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) lodged a complaint that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is improperly occupying the Speaker’s offices in the Capitol.

“House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s political operation has steered more than $300,000 over the years to the bloc of Republicans who spurned his speaker bid Tuesday,” Axios reports.

“McCarthy’s leadership PAC, dubbed the Majority Committee, has donated to the campaigns of 17 of the 20 members who voted against him in the first three speaker ballots on Tuesday.”

“Twelve of those members got cash from McCarthy’s political operation during the 2022 cycle.”

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) posted a press release on official House website citing that he took the oath of office and being sworn in today.  No members were sworn in today.

John Harris: “By any historical standard, however, vivid evidence that one chamber of the national legislature is essentially ungovernable is a high-water moment. Kevin McCarthy, whatever the outcome of this contest in coming hours or days, can rest assured he has earned a legacy — as a symbol of pathos and ineffectuality, an emblem of the cannibalistic spirit of the age.”

“That age, McCarthy’s travails make clear, is not defined exclusively by former President Donald Trump. Recall that the first time McCarthy vied for the speakership — eight years ago, before dropping out in the face of right-wing opposition — occurred before Trump entered the presidential race and made himself the most important figure in the Republican Party. This time around, McCarthy is stumbling even as he holds Trump’s endorsement.”

The White House is strongly considering adding a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to President Biden’s trip to Mexico City next week, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A court in junta-ruled Myanmar found deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of corruption and handed down a seven-year sentence Friday—the last in a series of verdicts against her that add up to a total of 33 years in prison,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The junta brought a host of charges against Ms. Suu Kyi after ousting her in a coup on Feb. 1, 2021. The allegations ranged from illegally importing walkie talkies and violating pandemic-linked restrictions to corruption and election fraud. Human-rights groups have called the trials a sham designed to lock up 77-year-old Ms. Suu Kyi for life and remove her as a political threat to the military.”

“The trials weren’t open to the public.”

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