Is There A Crack In The Wall?
The MAGA's are bickering, and the House is sputtering.
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For new readers, here are links to a few previous posts that will bring you up to date on what the Feathers of Hope network has been doing :
Wait, Exactly How Will We Do This? — (January 28)
Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report — (February 16)
Moderate Republicans? Really? — (March 2)
Spread The Word, Write or Call Today — (April 6)
Escape From MAGA World — (May 3)
Feathers of Hope is a network of ordinary citizens committed to advocating for the removal and replacement of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, thereby diminishing the power and influence of MAGA extremists in the chamber.
We have been urging moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to form a temporary bipartisan majority voting bloc for the purpose of passing a motion to “vacate the chair” and elect a new Republican Speaker who owes nothing to the minority MAGA group.
“It sounds a little bit weird to me.”
That’s how Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) characterized the latest MAGA assault on normal order in the House of Representatives. He was talking about a proposal by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to “expunge” the two impeachments of Donald Trump. Though there is no such thing as deleting something that actually took place, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is in favor of it. “I think it is appropriate,” he said.
And so it has gone for Mr. McCarthy in the few weeks since his brief appearance as a capable legislative leader. Just one month ago, he abandoned his partnership with MAGA extremists to negotiate a bipartisan spending agreement that raised the debt limit and avoided a U.S. default. But only days later, the Speaker was desperate to re-gain their support as they brought the business of the House of Representatives to a complete halt. After a contentious meeting produced a temporary truce, one of the obstructionists, first-term Representative Matt Rosendale (R-MT), warned that if their demands went unheeded “the floor will stop, the functions will stop.”
Since then the Speaker has been allowing every radical move MAGA extremists propose to be taken seriously and acted upon. Mr. McCarthy has lost control.
The result has been a rush to the floor of competing nonsensical resolutions, their sponsors crashing into each other as they seek media attention, and the cash flow generated by it. Last week saw an ongoing spat between Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) spill into a public exchange of name-calling over whose Biden Impeachment bill should take priority. That was followed quickly by the move to expunge the Trump impeachments.
While many of these proposals are frivolous, some are deadly serious and potentially destructive. One such motion was brought to the floor by first-term Representative Paulina Luna (R-FL), calling for the Censure of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). That someone who has served in the House for less than six months should be empowered to bring such a motion severely undermines the traditions and norms of the institution Mr. McCarthy is responsible for protecting.
Meanwhile, the far-right Freedom Caucus, still bitter about being momentarily left behind by Kevin McCarthy last month, is said to be considering the expulsion of some members for voting with him in favor of the debt limit bill. That would include Ms. Greene and possibly even Jim Jordan (R-OH) who’s a founding member of the group.
There is growing dissension within the Republican caucus.
Responsible senior Members of the House have been losing patience with the antics of MAGA activists, and that resentment is being expressed ever more openly. Rep. Bacon (R-NE) was explicit:
“The small group acts like we’re in a parliament in which the House majority can get whatever it wants. In reality, we’re in a bicameral with three branches of government and separation of powers. If we want to get something done it will involve working across the aisle. The small group of GOP individualists want a 100% and will end up with zero.”
Of course, that warning falls on deaf ears. And for those Members who take their jobs seriously, these time-wasting stunts by a minority of mostly junior Members are a major headache, delaying and perhaps derailing their own legislative priorities. One moderate, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) predicted, “if this continues to go on . . . rank and file are going to go crazy.”
There are surprisingly few days when the House is in session. Currently in recess, the body will re-convene on July 11. Between that date and September 12, there will be only twelve legislative days, none at all in August. There are eight days scheduled for October and seven in November.
Nevertheless, many expect there will be another round of brinksmanship over the budget in coming weeks, fomented by the same radical faction of Republicans. Never mind that an agreement on spending levels has already been reached, passed by Congress and signed by the President. If that happens, it will impact the schedule for “must pass” legislation like the farm bill and a defense policy package.
Adding to the strains on Republican unity is the rift between supporters of Donald Trump and those who want to distance themselves from him.
As new indictments are filed and fresh revelations of misconduct become harder to explain away, moderates and Members representing swing districts have mostly avoided commenting publicly. Privately, they worry about losing their seats if Trump is the nominee, causing Republicans and Independents in their districts to either stay home or support Democrats on election day 2024. At the same time, the MAGA crowd becomes ever more strident in their defense of him, mocking as weak any who are deemed insufficiently loyal.
A strong and confident Speaker would remain above the fray here, in the interest of minimizing intra-party conflicts in the chamber. But Kevin McCarthy is neither strong nor confident, and at every opportunity he rushes to the microphones to placate Trump and the MAGA minority. Consequently, the rift is maximized and dysfunction becomes normal.
While some Democrats may welcome all of this as a sign of Republican weakness, standing idly by is both short-sighted and self-destructive. The goal of MAGA radicalism is disruption and chaos, thus sabotaging any further progress during President Biden’s administration. As the minority Party in the House of Representatives, Democrats’ only option for continuing the work of Congress this session is to build a cross-party alliance capable of governing. And that is impossible so long as Kevin McCarthy remains Speaker of the House.
As we’ve been advocating, Kevin McCarthy must be removed and replaced by means of a bipartisan majority vote to vacate the chair and elect a moderate Republican Speaker. This will marginalize the MAGA extremists, diminish their influence on daily proceedings in the House, and allow the chamber to function normally once again.
You may not have noticed it, but one voice that’s been heard more frequently of late is that of Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). A retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General, he has long been considered to be the least partisan Member of Congress, and the least likely to be quoted or seen on national broadcast media. But Mr. Bacon has been making TV appearances and public statements regularly for the last couple weeks.
Appearing on Meet the Press this past Sunday he spoke strongly in support of military aid to Ukraine, even suggesting that President Biden has been too slow in the delivery of certain weapons there. Acknowledging that this is in direct opposition to the opinion of most Republican primary voters, Rep. Bacon made the point that American military assistance to Ukraine amounts to only about 5% of our total military budget. But in return for that investment, Russia’s military has been depleted by 50%. He then specifically called out his party’s leadership:
“Too many Republicans have tried to stay under the radar on this. We do best when we stand up for what’s right and what’s truthful.”
He then went on to declare unequivocally that Donald Trump’s actions as described in his indictment “are crimes.” Referencing his own decades of experience in the military and in Congress handling classified documents, Mr. Bacon added:
“You can’t have hundreds of (documents) of top secret information. You can’t be showing our attack plans on Iran to non-cleared people. Again, our party does best when we stand on the rule of law and the truth, and the principles that made our party strong. If we walk away from that we’ll be weakened for sure.”
These comments may seem unremarkable to those reading it here. But in the context of the Republicans’ current internal power struggle, it’s a powerful statement by a highly influential leader.
Regular readers of Feathers of Hope will likely recall that Representative Bacon is my favored candidate to replace Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. I can only speculate about why he is stepping forward at this time. But my hope is that, as a retired General he recognizes a leadership vacuum in the body where he serves, and may be preparing to fill that vacuum.
Whether that is the case or not, it’s my intention to encourage Mr. Bacon to do so. And I urge others in our network to do the same.
Don Bacon: (202) 225-4155 D.C. Office. (402) 938-0300 District Office
2104 Rayburn House Office Building —Washington, DC 20515
District Office: 3906 Gold Circle, Suite 101 — Omaha, NE 68144
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