Kevin McCarthy, Sat on a Wall
All the hot air, Only slows his fall.
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.
Note: This site can also be accessed by entering FeathersOfHope.net in your browser window
For new readers, here are links to some 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? — (Jan. 28)
Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report — (Feb. 16)
Moderate Republicans? Really? — (March 2)
You’ve Got To Be Kidding, Kevin! — (April 26)
If McCarthy’s Out, Who’s In? — (May 18)
Joe Biden Knows How To Negotiate And Win — (May 30)
Is There A Crack In The Wall? — (June 29)
More Sand In The Gears — (July 21)
How Long Is This Journey? — (August 22)
Bring In The Clowns — (Sept. 13)
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Democrats can not “save” a failure.
Over the weekend, Speaker Kevin McCarthy repeated his always predictable pattern of submitting to whatever source of pressure is greatest at the moment. After weeks of bending to the demands of MAGA extremists who provided the votes to elect him Speaker last January, he abruptly pivoted away from them to avert a government shutdown. He suspended the rules, and brought to the floor a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for 45 days.
The CR included almost none of the provisions the radical faction had been insisting on. Nearly identical to the Senate version, it was passed within a few hours by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 335 - 91. The Senate quickly passed the House version 88 - 9, and it was signed by President Biden shortly thereafter.
While some were surprised at the timing, no one was shocked that he did it. Some even said he had “finally done the right thing,” perhaps because he made the claim himself.
To be clear, Speaker McCarthy did not do the right thing. Doing the right thing would have been to honor the agreement he reached with President Biden in May. That agreement, passed into law as the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), had been expressly designed to avoid the chaos and disruption which continues this week and shows no sign of abating.
Instead, within days of passage of the FRA, the Speaker was again making concessions to the MAGA faction. Betraying the President, 165 Democrats in the House, and 149 Republicans who voted for the bill, Mr. McCarthy blatantly misrepresented what had been achieved. The agreed upon spending limits, he said, were not really targets for budgeting, but merely numbers not to be exceeded.
From then until noon on Saturday — the last day of the fiscal year — he oversaw endless fights over spending bills that would never pass the Senate, conceding to immediate pressure being exerted by the most intractable elements in the House he nominally leads. And in the end, under the mounting pressure of having his legacy include personal responsibility for the consequences of a government shutdown, he betrayed MAGA for a second time.
Unlike in the House, the Senate has passed all 12 appropriation bills out of committee with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The reason is simple. The agreed upon spending limits were taken seriously and the bills written within those parameters. That’s what a fully functioning legislative branch looks like.
On Saturday night, having betrayed virtually everyone along the way, Speaker Kevin McCarthy stepped to the lectern at a press conference to announce what everyone already knew: that the CR had passed. He stood quietly for a moment, actually waiting for applause. (Yes, he even said it out loud. “I’m waiting for your very positive responses.”) The moment of silence passed, and rather than celebrate the temporary bipartisan success, he barreled ahead to claim that the whole thing was the Senate’s fault.
He then moved on to blame President Biden for not negotiating, and also for something about the border. A minute later, the Speaker mentioned Hunter Biden, just before introducing his “leadership team.” During the 15 minute question period that followed, Mr. McCarthy who had presided over months of wasted time, with no sense of shame or irony complained that Democrats had delayed the CR vote that afternoon. They had requested 90 minutes to read the 71 page bill.
So now there are 45 days for the House to write and pass 12 appropriation bills that are consistent with what the Senate has already done, or at least are close enough that a compromise could pass and be signed by President Biden. How that will come abut remains to be seen.
The first hint of what lies ahead took the form of a motion to vacate the chair.
One of the MAGA extremists, eager to avenge Speaker McCarthy’s betrayal took up his challenge and filed the motion Monday night. Under the rules, the resolution must be addressed by the Speaker within two legislative days. Though there are some procedural delays available, there will need to be a vote by the full House very soon. And if it passes, there will be another round of voting to elect (or re-elect) the Speaker of the House.
(Just a reminder: the Speaker is next after Vice-President Harris in the line of presidential succession.)
What should Democrats do? What are the choices?
Since the threat of introducing a motion to vacate has been simmering in the background for months, the national narrative has become ossified around the notion that there are only two possibilities. Either Democrats support Kevin McCarthy by voting “present” thereby reducing the number of “nay” votes needed to defeat the motion, or they join the fray and act to remove Kevin McCarthy by voting “yay”. In other words, Kevin McCarthy’s fate is in Democratic hands.
Let’s consider each option separately.
If Democrats help to defeat the motion, Mr. McCarthy remains Speaker but his authority would be even less than what it is now. Moreover, there would almost certainly be a succession of motions to vacate, introduced repeatedly by one or another of the MAGA radicals.
If Democrats help to pass the motion, removing Kevin McCarthy from the Speakership, there will be a new election. Traditionally, the minority (in this case Democratic) party would then vote for its leader (in this case Hakeem Jeffries) for Speaker, leaving the majority party to name its leader to head the House.
With the Republican Caucus so divided that it could not even pass the most routine funding measures, it’s impossible to predict what would happen next. Uncertainty and unpredictability is the only thing likely to remain certain.
Keep in mind that this is entirely due to the failure of Kevin McCarthy’s leadership. Having betrayed virtually everyone in the House, as well as the President of the United States, Mr. McCarthy has shown himself to be both extraordinarily weak and utterly unfit for the office he holds. That will not change, no matter the outcome here.
The only remedy for a failure of leadership is to replace the failed leader.
Leaving Speaker McCarthy in place means leaving the House of Representatives grievously wounded and dysfunctional. Democrats would fail in their duty to the country were they to "save McCarthy". But that is likewise true if they stay absent from the Speakership replacement process.
Time and again over the last several days, serious voices in liberal-leaning media have suggested that Democrats should keep their distance from the Republicans’ mess. There is a common belief that letting the country see the results of Republican inability to govern will enhance the chances of electoral success for Democratic candidates at all levels next November.
This is an appealing, but tragically misguided point of view. It reflects an inability to see beyond electoral politics, and a lack of appreciation for the larger threat we face at this moment in American history.
Our democratic republic is under assault.
This is neither hyperbole, nor metaphor. But while often repeated by progressive liberal leaders, there is a dearth of creativity in crafting effective defensive strategies to respond. It’s almost as though no one wants to believe it, and so it continues.
The weakness of the current Speaker has been exploited by a cadre of radicals in the House who care not at all about legislating or governing. Their intent is to destroy, to overrun and fundamentally alter the very nature of our system of government. Proud supporters of convicted January 6 conspirators, they are continuing the insurrection within the chamber itself.
Meanwhile, there are a few stories here and there about death threats, and incitements to violence. But like those pre-9/11 warnings that were widely disseminated but mostly ignored, we fail to consider the consequences of a successful action.
To be blunt, assassinations have been committed by lone gunmen with little training. A double assassination is by no means beyond the limits of a sophisticated and committed team, particularly if they are willing to die in the attempt.
The point here is not to raise security concerns. Those we trust to the agencies with expertise in that area. The point is that our institutions must be strong enough to survive attacks like 9/11.
We can not just keep crossing our fingers that no threat will emerge, no crisis will develop, and we’ll somehow get by without a functional House of Representatives.
These are not ordinary times. Obviously we need to win elections, and all the elements of campaigning need to be mobilized with maximum efficiency. The structure of conducting free and fair democratic elections needs to be protected, strengthened and utilized. No one is arguing otherwise.
Nevertheless, we must recognize that unlike in previous years, we must actively protect and defend the institutions of our self-governance. Specifically, we can not allow the House of Representatives to remain broken and unstable.
So again, what should Democrats do?
We here at Feathers of Hope know exactly what Democrats should do. Just as we’ve been advocating since January:
Moderate Democrats should join together with non-MAGA Republicans to form a bipartisan majority and elect a strong, independent Republican Speaker like Don Bacon (R-NE) or Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who can restore normal order to the House of Representatives, while delivering a stinging defeat to the extremists.
And we know exactly what we as ordinary citizens should do.
Raise our voices to persuade others, who will likewise raise their voices, so that those who can amplify our voices will hear us and will, in turn, help to persuade those who can do what needs to be done, to do it
Contact political journalists, broadcast media personalities, writers, bloggers, influencers, particularly those on our Updated Contact List here
Post in the comment section of online publications, and on social media
Call or write directly to members of Congress, particularly these eight:
Don Bacon (R-NE-02): (202) 225-4155 D.C. or (402) 938-0300 District
Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01): (202) 225-4276 D.C. or (215) 579-8102 District
Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08): (202) 225-5665 D.C. or (920) 301-4500 District
David Joyce (R- OH-14): (202) 225-5731 D.C. or (440) 352-3939 District
Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08): (202) 225-5936 D.C. or (718) 237-2211 District
Ro Khanna (D-CA-17): (202) 225-2631 D.C. or (408) 436-2720 District
Katherine Clark (D-MA-05): (202) 225-2836 D.C. or (617) 354-0292 District
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07): (202) 225-3106 D.C. or (206) 674-0040 District
No matter how many times you’ve done this, or if you’ve never done it at all, now is the time to do your part. The stakes could not be higher.
This is a network of ordinary citizens. In a democracy, we exercise our power by raising our voices. To be silent is to be powerless.
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