Lazy Caturday Reads

Vladimir Rumyantzev

Illustration by ladimir Rumyantzev

Happy Caturday!!

After an insane week of Republican tantrums, Kevin McCarthy is finally Speaker of the House. But it doesn’t sound like he’ll have much control over his caucus. He seems to have given in to all of their demands in order to have a title with very little power. It was an embarrassing week for the Republican Party and for the country, capped by a scene in which Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida nearly came to blows.

Benjy Sarlin, Kadia Goba, and Shelby Talcott at Semaphor: Kevin McCarthy finally became Speaker of the House after one last shocking meltdown. Here’s how it all happened.

McCarthy and his allies confidently predicted he would be elected Speaker of the House Friday night after a breakthrough in negotiations earlier in the day that saw 15 holdouts abandon their opposition.

The expectation was a critical mass of remaining holdouts would switch sides or vote present to seal his inevitable election as speaker.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. earned wild applause when she voted “present” for the first time, helping lower the threshold for a McCarthy win — just as his team had hoped would happen.

Members did the same for Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, who had flown back from tending to his wife and newborn premature baby in order to attend the crucial vote, and Ken Buck, R-Colo., who had rushed back from Colorado after undergoing a medical procedure.

But four holdouts, including a freshman from Arizona, Eli Crane, voted for other candidates. Then, after deliberately skipping his initial vote, Gaetz waited to the end of the roll call to vote “present” — leaving McCarthy one vote short.

Pandemonium ensued. An enraged Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. had to be physically restrained as he charged to confront Gaetz with the C-SPAN cameras rolling.

Back to the Semaphor article:

Afterwards, a stunned Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who had just nominated McCarthy and was seen animatedly working Gaetz over during the vote, took to the podium to ask that the House be allowed to adjourn until Monday.

As members tried to get their bearings, President Trump placed quick calls ahead of the 15th ballot — just before midnight — to Reps. Andy Biggs, who had voted for Rep. Jim Jordan, and Gaetz, a source familiar with the situation told Semafor.

Another photo from earlier showed Marjorie Taylor Greene trying to reach a holdout after the failed vote, Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana with a phone call from a “DT” as Rosendale appeared to rebuff her.

In the next ballot, more holdouts voted “present” and McCarthy was finally elected to thunderous applause and deep sighs of relief, completing his long rise through leadership across three presidential administrations.

Cat in the evening on the bench birds, Paul Kulsha2

Cat in the evening on the bench with birds, Paul Kulsha2

I stayed up until the bitter end, but I nodded off a few times and somehow I missed the fight scene. What I saw was Matt Gaetz approaching McCarthy, after which McCarthy rushed to the voting table to change his vote to no on adjournment. McCarthy looked thrilled after he finally won the 15th vote, but what did he actually win?

Sahil Kapur at NBC News: How Kevin McCarthy got the votes for speaker — and why it could haunt him.

After four days of deadlock and embarrassing defeats not seen in a century, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finally carved out a path to placate a faction of rebels and secure the job early Saturday, with promises that could come back to haunt him.

McCarthy flipped 14 of his holdouts and convinced the rest to stand down, securing election as the 53rd speaker of the House on the 15th ballot after overcoming a last-minute wrench that scuttled his best-laid plans on the previous ballot. In doing so, he made a series of concessions that weaken the power of his office and expand the clout of far-right members of the House Republican conference, which critics say could complicate his job of governing under a wafer-thin majority.

McCarthy and his allies sensed they were on the verge of a breakthrough on Thursday night after Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., and others tapped by the now-speaker met with a group of right-wing holdouts — including Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Chip Roy of Texas and Byron Donalds of Florida. The mutiny was led by members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which is known for wielding raw power and having a high tolerance for chaos to force House GOP leaders to bend to their wishes.

McCarthy’s team presented them with a “framework” of House rules changes and other promises that would appease the group — and that ultimately prompted six House members to vote “present,” a crucial move that lowered the threshold for a majority and paved the way for him to succeed….

Perry, the Freedom Caucus chairman, said Friday he decided to vote for McCarthy after that framework was put on the table. But he also made clear his support for McCarthy was conditional on the terms of the deal holding up.

The concessions were mostly about the Rules Committee.

The Republican rules package released Friday includes those concessions. It will allow any one member to force a “motion to vacate” the speaker’s chair and overthrow McCarthy. It makes it harder for the House to raise spending, taxes and the debt limit. And Perry said the agreement includes “conservative representation” across the House, including by adding members of the right flank to key committees.

Perry and Roy declined to divulge details, but two sources with knowledge told NBC News that the Freedom Caucus was demanding three seats on the powerful Rules Committee, which controls the bills that make it to the House floor…

Irina Zeniuk2

Illustration by Irina Zeniuk

The deal is poised to enhance the power of far-right Republicans, at the expense of moderates who want to advance legislation that can win the approval of a Democratic-controlled Senate and President Joe Biden. It could make McCarthy’s task of passing must-do bills like funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling much harder under a slim majority if a group of five Republicans can effectively force him out at any time.

Still, the more moderate or mainstream Republicans put up little resistance to the pact that party leaders agreed to, with some accepting it as the cost of doing business under narrow margins….

Democrats say the reported concessions will make the House ungovernable and cause crises.

“What we’re seeing is the incredibly shrinking speakership,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview Friday. “It is not a good thing for the House of Representatives. We are the people’s house. We have to negotiate with the Senate. We have to negotiate with the White House. And instead, we are diminishing the leadership role of the House.”

More details at the NBC link.

According to Kyle Cheney at Politico, McCarthy also has agreed to give unprecedented powers to Rep. Jim Jordan, who will be the chair of the Judiciary Committee: Proposed GOP select panel would be empowered to review ‘ongoing criminal investigations.’

A proposed subcommittee to investigate “weaponization” of the federal government — a key demand of House conservatives who delivered Speaker Kevin McCarthy the gavel — would be given sweeping investigatory powers that include explicit authority to review “ongoing criminal investigations.”

The language of the proposed “select subcommittee,” which would operate under the Judiciary Committee expected to be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also gives the panel power to access any information shared with the House Intelligence Committee. That panel typically receives the highest-level classified intelligence and briefings of any committee in Congress.

Both provisions appear to have been added during final negotiations between McCarthy and a band of hardline detractors that briefly denied him the speakership. An earlier version of the proposal made no mention of ongoing criminal investigations or the Intelligence Committee and limited the probe to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Vladimir Rumyantzev2

Illustration by Vladimir Rumyantzev

The panel’s expected formation comes as the Justice Department continues to arrest and prosecute hundreds of rioters charged with breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and amid two ongoing criminal investigations connected to former President Donald Trump. Those include the probe of his effort to overturn the 2020 election and his decision to warehouse highly sensitive national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office.

Both Trump-related probes are now overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to manage the sensitive grand jury investigations

The subcommittee proposal would permit McCarthy to name 13 members to the panel, including five after consultation with Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries — a structure similar to the Jan. 6 select committee. Pelosi opted to reject two of McCarthy’s picks to that panel, prompting him to withdraw from any participation.

Unlike the Jan. 6 committee, however, the GOP-led probe would be housed under Jordan’s committee. Subpoenas issued by the panel would be authorized by Jordan.

That is just plain terrifying. So Jordan wants to be able to horn in on the investigations of Trump and other insurrectionists–which include Jim Jordan!

Asawin Suebsaeng and Tessa Stuart of Rolling Stone have a scoop on Matt Gaetz’s motive for opposing McCarthy: Sex Trafficking Row Helped Fuel Gaetz’s Hatred for McCarthy.

KEVIN MCCARTHY WAS well aware he was going to lose his bid to become Speaker of the House of Representatives on the first ballot, three people with knowledge of the situation told Rolling Stone. What he was not privately predicting was that the beatings would continue for an entire week. “He knew he was going to get fucked — he just didn’t know they were going to fuck him this many times, or this hard,” explained one congressional aide.

Among the major factors in McCarthy losing more than a dozen speakership ballots, people familiar with the matter say, was the severity of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s enmity toward the Republican leader. Gaetz’s intense and personal distaste for McCarthy has been an open secret in Washington political circles for years, so much so that Gaetz and McCarthy’s colleagues would argue it isn’t even a “secret” at all.

Vladimir Rumyantzev3

Illustration by Vladimir Rumyantzev

But Gaetz’s hatred curdled into something even more powerful after it was revealed in early 2021 that the MAGA congressman was the target of a federal investigation into the sex trafficking of a minor. (No charges were filed against Gaetz, but his “wingman” Joel Greenberg was sentenced to 11 years in prison.) McCarthy, in Gaetz’s opinion, failed to mount a forceful enough defense on his behalf. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Gaetz has been furious at McCarthy for the perceived lack of support ever since — despite the fact that McCarthy did not strip him of any committee assignments during the probe.

The enmity between the two Republicans spilled into open view on the floor of the House during the 14th vote Friday night that McCarthy had bragged would finally put him over the top to secure the speaker’s gavel. Gaetz placed himself at the center of the drama. He skipped his turn in the alphabetical role call vote, setting himself up to vote at the end of the proceeding. With McCarthy needing one more yes vote, Gaetz instead voted “present” — leaving McCarthy with 50 percent of the vote, a hair short of victory. McCarthy strode up to Gaetz on the House floor, and a the foes had a heated exchange that did not change the total. McCarthy again was left hanging. (Gaetz again voted “present” along with the other Never Kevin rebels in the 15th vote that finally gave McCarthy the gavel.)

The original source of Rep. Gaetz’s acute loathing of McCarthy is less clear. Rolling Stone contacted members of Congress, sources on Capitol Hill, and activists in conservative organizations to ask what the root cause was. They all just knew Gaetz hated the House GOP leader. One Republican who knows both Gaetz and McCarthy says they even once asked the latter why Gaetz dislikes him so much. This source recalls McCarthy answering: “I don’t know.”

McCarthy has the Speaker’s gavel now, but there may be more disagreements coming on Monday when the House votes on the rules package that McCarthy agreed to. There are reportedly some McCarthy supporters who aren’t going to support it.

More stories to check out today:

Associated Press: Police: 6-year-old shoots teacher in Virginia classroom.

The New York Times: Shootings Reported at Homes and Offices of 5 New Mexico Democrats.

Associated Press: US appeals court blocks ban on rapid-fire ‘bump stocks.’

NBC News: On Musk’s Twitter, users looking to sell and trade child sex abuse material are still easily found.

Raw Story: Ashli Babbitt’s mother arrested for blocking DC street on Capitol riot anniversary.

NBC News: Conservative leader Matt Schlapp is accused of fondling a male campaign staffer in Georgia.

The Daily Beast: Herschel Walker Staffer: Matt Schlapp ‘Groped’ My Crotch.

Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!

17 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    All this Republican Nuttery is exhausting. Watching the House and all the myriad hearings and temper tantrums will be awful. It’s like going back in time to Trump’s Days.

    • Beata says:

      Yes. I’ve started waking up at 2 am and not being able to get back to sleep. It is wreaking havoc with my health. I had Covid in December and am not fully recovered yet. I feel like the sheeted dead these days. The political craziness is making everything worse. The next two years will probably be a nightmare.

      • dakinikat says:

        May you heal quickly and sleep soundly!! I’m going to limit my TV News exposure. I can’t watch any more toddler fights that are not monitored by adults.

      • quixote says:

        That’s too many health reverses for anyone! Hope you can at least get back to sleeping better. And, yup, the country is going to be in a nightmare for the next two years. /*endless screaming*/

      • Riverbird says:

        I’m sorry. I hope you feel better soon.

      • NW Luna says:

        No wonder you don’t feel recovered if you had Covid just back in December. Sometime it can take quite a while, and then there’s the possibility of Long Covid which I hope you have not got. Take it easy. Maybe the cat will cuddle with you when you can’t sleep?

        I’ll try to ignore politics for the next couple of years. It’s so wearying to worry. I hope due to the narrow House R majority and the Senate Dem majority that the R’s destructive acts will be limited.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      To me it makes him look as if he’s trying to do the hand movements of one of those Balinese dances, but he’s only on Lesson 1, he’s not good at it, and he’s taking the class from a cheap correspondence school.

    • NW Luna says:

      That white band of shirt at his neck like a cleric’s dog collar. Weird.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

    It’s Tempting to Laugh at McCarthy’s Struggles, but History Shows That This Type of Chaos Is Not a Joke

    By Joanne B. Freeman

    Dr. Freeman has spent her career as a historian analyzing political violence in America, in duels, in Congress and elsewhere.

    In recent days, we’ve watched congressional Republicans reap the whirlwind. In campaigning for the 2022 midterm elections, the G.O.P. rode a wave of extremism, saying little about the politics of hate and denial practiced by some of its candidates in an effort to capture votes.

    The party is now paying a price for its silence. Its members are grappling with the reality of working with people who loudly and proudly challenge political institutions and the democratic process — in a democratic institution. During the speakership battle, that small group of extremists held the House of Representatives hostage.

    This was far from the first time the House was mired in a stalemate over the speakership. It’s the 15th such battle in Congress’s history, and the ninth time that electing a speaker required more than three ballots.

    Each of those times, the struggle was a litmus test of the state of party politics and the state of the nation. Our recent contest was much the same, exposing party fractures and irreconcilable differences, but unlike previous battles, it lacked a policy- and legislation-bound core. More than anything else, it was about power — a gap that reveals much about the state of the nation.

    • quixote says:

      Simplest solution (okay, not really, exceptions for Jeffries, Lieu, Schiff, Raskin, oh wait they’re all Dems, but honestly):

      as Claire McCaskill pointed out, men are simply too emotional to be in politics.

  7. I laughed at the first two votes for speaker because I thought the Republicans were showing how disorganized they were, but I was wrong. The extremists were well organized. They hung together and got a lot of concessions from McCarthy and the next two years will be bad. On the good side, I loved Hakeem Jeffries’ speech. I hope everyone watches it.