Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Today House Republicans will decide whether Kevin McCarthy will be Speaker of the House in the new Congress. Right now, it’s not looking good for him. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, a failure to elect a Speaker on the first ballot would be “history-making.” It has been 100 years since a vote for speaker went to a second ballot. The first vote could take place while I’m working on this post, so I’ll update with any results.

McCarthy met again with the right wing members and again, it didn’t go well. Lauren Bobert, who hadn’t been vehemently opposed to McCarthy so far, emerged from the meeting calling McCarthy’s presentation “bullshit.”

Here’s what the press is saying this morning.

The New York Times: McCarthy Remains Short of Support to Become Speaker as Vote Nears.

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 digging in for what could become a chaotic floor fight at the dawn of the new House Republican majority.

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.

In a vote planned for around midday Tuesday, when the new Congress convenes, Mr. McCarthy must win a majority of those present and voting — 218 if every member of the House were to attend and cast a vote — to become speaker. Republicans are to control 222 seats and Democrats are all but certain to oppose Mr. McCarthy en masse, leaving him little room for defections from his own party.

With at least five Republicans vowing to oppose him and more quietly on the fence, Mr. McCarthy appeared short of the necessary votes, despite a series of major concessions he has made in an attempt to appease the far-right lawmakers. Republicans were set to meet at 9:30 Tuesday morning behind closed doors as Mr. McCarthy grasped for a last-minute boost of support.

But if anything, the momentum appeared to be headed in the other direction. Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, on Tuesday morning released a scathing statement saying that Mr. McCarthy had scuttled his own chances of becoming speaker by refusing to agree to the demands of the right wing.

Ronald Brownstein at CNN: The right has already won the House speakership election.

No matter how they resolve Tuesday’s vote choosing the next speaker of the House, Republicans appear poised to double down on the hard-edged politics that most swing state voters rejected in last November’s midterm election.

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.

Whoever Republicans ultimately select as speaker “will be subject to the whims and the never-ending leveraging of a small group of members who want to wield power,” said former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent, a CNN political commentator. “You’re going to have this group on the far right that is going to continue to push the leadership to go further right on issues.”

Tuesday’s vote may create a kind of drama that was common in the House during the 19th century but has virtually disappeared since. Before the Civil War, when party allegiances were more fluid, the House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot 13 times, according to the House historian’s office. The most arduous struggles occurred in roughly the decade before the Civil War, as the existing party system crumbled under the pressure of the escalating conflict between the North and South, and the newly formed Republican Party supplanted the Whigs as the major competitor to the Democrats, then the dominant party. One speakership election during that tumultuous decade required 133 ballots (and two months of balloting) to resolve; the final speaker selection before the Civil War began took 44 ballots.

Since then, the only selection that has required more than a single ballot came in 1923, when Republicans holding only a narrow majority comparable to their advantage this year took nine ballots to select their speaker. Then the complication was that a minority of left-leaning progressive Republicans initially resisted conservative incumbent Speaker Frederick Gillett.

Today McCarthy faces resistance from the opposite pole of his caucus-a circle of hard-right conservatives who have pledged not to support him, at least on the first ballot. Many in the party establishment still believe that even if conservatives initially block McCarthy, he will ultimately succeed – largely because there is no other alternative likely to draw broader support across the party.

Again, as Dakinikat wrote yesterday, if McCarthy can’t get the votes, a possible candidate for Speaker would be Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise. Interestingly, Scalise has been very quiet lately. Right wing outlet News Max wonders why that is.

Phillip Elliott at Time: Why Kevin McCarthy Is So Bad at This.

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy left his downtown D.C. condo just before 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the first full day of work after the holiday recess, he was like the student who shows up for the final without doing all the studying, running solely on ambition and a confidence that everything would turn out fine in the end. Except for McCarthy, his proctored exam hall is the floor of the House of Representatives, and whether he passes will be determined by his classmates, most of whom may be cheering on his failure.

McCarthy, making his second bid to become the Speaker of the House, started his Tuesday undeniably short of the 218 aye votes he needs to claim the gavel and lead the lower chamber. Assuming every one of his GOP colleagues casts a vote for Speaker—and votes for a real person, and not just present—he can afford to lose just four votes. At least five of his fellow Republicans were in the Never Kevin camp, and another seven were Seldom Kevins. In other words, he potentially has three times that shortfall.

McCarthy’s team spent the holiday break working to lock down votes. They turned the calendar from 2022 to 2023 with ambivalence if not apprehension about Tuesday. They are starting with a majority that’s the narrowest for a new Speaker since 1931, and McCarthy’s polling numbers are mediocre at best among the party base. He has traded away just about everything he can, winning the likes of fringe voices like Marjorie Taylor Greene with promises of seats at tables, a move smartly predicted by TIME’s Molly Ball back in June. But McCarthy still can’t secure unanimous support among the firebrands inside the Freedom Caucus.

McCarthy, recognizing the need to feed the far-right base of his party, has already promised to allow his House to probe into Hunter Biden’s businesses, the treatment of those charged and detained for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and how the Justice Department and FBI have possibly considered politics in their decisions. McCarthy is open to impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the conditions on the U.S.-Mexican border, and hasn’t closed the door to other investigations that could embarrass President Joe Biden and his administration. As one Wall Street Journal columnist put it, McCarthy is offering up “a Committee on Censors and Snoops.”

Yet the holdouts still don’t trust McCarthy for any number of reasons: he’s seen as unreliably conservative; he has not embraced government shutdowns as useful tools to remake government or to cut off foes like Planned Parenthood; he is noncommittal about impeaching President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; he is too weak in supporting ex-President Donald Trump’s Big Lie—and they don’t seem willing to bend, unlike McCarthy, who has proven to be entirely pliable.

Which brings us to this point: the House, before it can do anything else, has to elect a Speaker. Until that happens, the rules from the previous Congress guide the chamber, and precedent doesn’t really allow a new Rules package to come to a vote, nor does it provide for the House to move forward with seating of committee or subcommittee chairs—the people who actually write the laws. A paralyzed House as Republicans take control for the first time since the 2018 elections isn’t a good look for the GOP, regardless of who holds the gavel.

Meanwhile, McCarthy has already moved into the Speaker’s office. If he can’t get the votes, he’ll have to move out again. And now McCarthy has spoken his piece:

The Republican Party is very much disarray, no matter what happens.

Another problem for House Republicans is that George Santos will be sworn in today. Despite being caught in multiple lies about his own background, Santos is determined to join the Republican caucus.

Annie Karni at The New York Times: George Santos Comes to Washington. It Could Be Awkward.

Representative-elect George Santos has been hard to pin down.

“No one can find him,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the incoming minority leader, said at a news conference last week, pressing for answers on the geyser of falsehoods about Mr. Santos’s background that have been revealed since he flipped a Democratic seat on Long Island in November.

But beginning on Tuesday, Mr. Santos will not be able to hide anymore.

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. Prosecutors told The New York Times on Monday that Brazilian law enforcement authorities intended to revive fraud charges against him stemming from an incident in 2008 regarding a stolen checkbook.

Santos is in hot water with both political parties.

Democrats are already calling for him to give up his seat, and members of his own party are demanding more detailed explanations of his conduct.

That includes making up claims about his résumé, his education, his ties to Wall Street firms and his charitable endeavors — all of which have been revealed as part of a fantasy persona created as the backbone of his pitch to voters.

In addition to his background, Mr. Santos has misrepresented parts of his finances and filed incomplete or inaccurate congressional disclosures. He has also claimed that he is Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. Mr. Santos is Catholic.

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether he committed crimes involving his finances or misleading statements.

Mr. Santos, the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent, has yet to offer a full accounting to the voters who elected him based on a largely made-up biography. He has admitted to “embellishing” his résumé and to the fact that he did not graduate from any institution of higher education.

Read more at the NYT.

Santos is in trouble in Brazil too. The New York Times: Brazilian Authorities Will Revive Fraud Case Against George Santos.

When Representative-elect George Santos 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.

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, prosecutors said on Monday.

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.

A spokeswoman for the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office said that with Mr. Santos’s whereabouts identified, a formal request will be made to the U.S. Justice Department to notify him of the charges, a necessary step after which the case will proceed with or without him….

Just a month before his 20th birthday, Mr. Santos entered a small clothing store in the Brazilian city of Niterói outside Rio de Janeiro. He spent nearly $700 using a stolen checkbook and a false name, court records show.

Mr. Santos admitted the fraud to the shop owner in August 2009, writing on Orkut, a popular social media website in Brazil, “I know I screwed up, but I want to pay.” In 2010, he and his mother told the police that he had stolen the checkbook of a man his mother used to work for, and used it to make fraudulent purchases.

A judge approved the charge in September 2011 and ordered Mr. Santos to respond to the case. But by October, he was already in the United States and working at Dish Networkin College Point, Queens, company records show.

Right now, in the House, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik has just nominated McCarthy for Speaker. Now Democratic Rep. Peter Aguilar is now nominating Hakim Jeffries. I’m going to end right here and I’ll post updates in the comments.

Have a great day everyone!

49 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The vote should come any minute.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    They are calling the roll right now. I’m not familiar with this process. They are counting votes for both McCarthy and Jeffries.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    According to CNN, McCarthy has already fallen short by 8 votes, and unless some of these votes change, he will lose the first ballot. There are more votes outstanding.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Apparently, Jeffries could win more votes than McCarthy and could win on the first ballot and be Speaker. ???

  5. bostonboomer says:

    McCarthy has now lost 11 Republican votes.

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

    It appears that Jeffries is going to have more votes than McCarthy.

    McCarthy doesn’t plan to step down. He plans to force as many ballots as necessary to win.

    • darthvelma says:

      I wish just having more votes would have passed the gavel to Jeffries. Unfortunately, you have to have a majority of the members, not just the most votes.

      But wow, how embarrassing for McCarthy. Not just not to win outright on the first vote, but to not even come in first.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    This is interesting. No wonder McCarthy swore at the right wing nuts.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    I have to take a break, but I’ll keep an eye on this situation. It’s too entertaining to miss.

  12. dakinikat says:

    The second vote looks to be the same so far … guess we need to get to the Cs, but it’s weird to hear Jordan say he doesn’t want it, then Gaetz nominates him, and the whackos are voting for him.

    • dakinikat says:

      Just heard my Congress Critter vote for Jeffries. It’s nice to at least live on a bright blue island!

    • bostonboomer says:

      McCarthy has lost on the second ballot unless votes change.

    • darthvelma says:

      Jordan got enough votes to force a third vote.

      And C-SPAN really needs a reaction cam on Nancy Pelosi. *bwahahahaha* I hope she’s laughing her ass off over this nonsense.

      • bostonboomer says:

        She got a standing ovation when she voted for Jeffries.

      • NW Luna says:

        Oh this is fun seeing the Repubs in disarray!

        • darthvelma says:

          Absolutely. And we should bring up this day every. single. time. the media tries to push the “Democrats in disarray” narrative.

        • quixote says:

          Seriously, it is hilarious seeing the Repubs chewed up by the dragons they created, but important to remember that the sticking point is that Kevin McCarthy is not _bad enough_ for them.

          Unless the gonzos force a situation where a centrist wins, i.e. they lose the whole enchilada, whoever they push into the speakership will follow their orders. /*endless screaming*/

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Andrea Mitchell suggested that Democrats should vote for McCarthy “for the good of the institution.”

    • darthvelma says:

      Oh good grief. Neither McCarthy nor Jordan are worthy to hold Nancy’s gavel. If Andrea Mitchell wants to do something for the good of the country, she could either a) shut the hell up or b) encourage moderate republicans to vote for Jeffries.

      • Beata says:

        We’ve been waiting 15+ years for Andrea Mitchell to shut the hell up. Fat chance that will happen today.

        Are there any moderate Republicans still in the House??? Liz and Adam are gone.

        • dakinikat says:

          I think the Republicans left have no actual philosophical bent. They’re in it for the money and power and to support white male supremacy and Christian nationalism as their route to money and power.

    • Riverbird says:

      Andrea Mitchell is wrong again.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Third vote coming up! What an embarrassing mess for Caveman Kevin!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      It really looks bad if Hakeem gets the top number of votes 3 times now.

      One more towards gymbo for 20 … not looking good for Caveman Kevin … he lost one more!! And they just convened.

  15. darthvelma says:

    Seeing Chip Roy’s obnoxious face nominating Jordan just brought back all my pent up anger over the Texas re-re-re-districting gerrymandering fiasco. As a former Austin-ite, he can kiss every inch of my liberal ass.

  16. NW Luna says:

    Well, over in the Senate, my senator is now the first woman Senate President Pro Tempore! She has a bit of advice for the squabbling Republicans (in the last paragraph of the quoted text below).

    Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was elected Senate president pro tempore Tuesday, becoming the first woman to hold the job since its inception and putting her third in the line of presidential succession.

    Murray, who was elected to the Senate in 1992 as a self-proclaimed “mom in tennis shoes,” was selected for the role after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) declined to seek it.

    Murray in an interview Tuesday recalled joining the Senate when there were only two women in the chamber. “When I was elected, it was called ‘the year of the woman,’ and we were six. And I think a lot of the men, although they wouldn’t tell you this, were just sort of like, ‘Oh my God, what are those women going to do when they’re here?’”

    Murray, who won reelection to a sixth term in November, is also set to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee this year — marking the first time the powerful committees is likely to be led by four women from the majority and minority parties in the House and Senate.

    While Murray ascended to her new role, House Republicans were locked in an ugly battle on the other side of the Capitol that foreshadowed what could be a new era of gridlock and infighting after two years of unified Democratic control of Congress. “If the House chooses to be dysfunctional amongst themselves and just not want our country to work, that puts us all in peril,” Murray said. “I hope they see above that. I think our country really does not want to see chaos or any kind of dysfunction.”

  17. dakinikat says:

  18. dakinikat says:

    Funny thread!