Putting Out The Fire
First things first.
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.
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“The need to change course is urgent.”
—Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
In our post on Monday of this week, An Idea Whose Time Has Come, we quoted at length from a recent column in the Washington Post written by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (R-NY). The essence of his plea was quite simple:
“House Democrats remain committed to a bipartisan path forward, as we have repeatedly demonstrated throughout this Congress.
At this point, we simply need Republican partners willing to break with MAGA extremism, reform the highly partisan House rules that were adopted at the beginning of this Congress and join us in finding common ground for the people.”
Since then, Republicans have again held marathon meetings trying to agree on a candidate for Speaker of the House. The two contenders were Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). A majority within the Republican Conference favored Mr. Scalise, but his vote total on Wednesday was only 113 — a far cry from the 217 votes needed to be elected Speaker.
24 hours later, Steve Scalise dropped out. And there was general agreement that Jim Jordan would not have enough support to garner 217 votes either. So at this moment, on the morning of October 13, the House is without a Speaker. And the majority party has no viable candidate.
Since May, we have been promoting Don Bacon (R-NE) for Speaker.
While Don Bacon has never indicated an interest in actually being the Speaker, he had repeatedly suggested that if Republicans reached a stalemate, it would be necessary to “work with like-minded people across the aisle to find someone agreeable for Speaker.”
But being a moderate traditional Republican, Mr. Bacon has consistently supported the establishment candidates: Kevin McCarthy, and then Steve Scalise. All the while, we here at Feathers of Hope have called his office again and again urging that he support a bipartisan coalition to elect either himself or another non-MAGA Republican. I myself spoke with his aide today, repeating once more what had now become a plea from Leader Jeffries as well.
According to the Washington Post and the NY Times, just a few hours later Don Bacon finally agreed:
“Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, a moderate Republican, threw cold water on the idea (of giving more authority to the Speaker Pro Tempore) by questioning whether it’s constitutional to empower McHenry. Instead, he suggested that willing Republicans should work with Democrats to elect a consensus speaker.”
“ ‘It sends a terrible signal,’ said Representative Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and former Air Force general whose swing district seat could be at risk if his party is deemed by voters to be incapable of governing. ‘We’re not a governing body and we should be.’”
The significance of Mr. Bacon’s public statement in support of electing a Speaker with bipartisan support can not be overstated. Don Bacon is highly respected by colleagues both for his military service (former Air Force Brigadier General) and for his tireless work to forge consensus on essential legislation in the House.
With his backing, the way ahead is clear. And we can expect to see a growing momentum toward a cross-party alliance, one likely to include as many as a hundred Republicans.
This does not mean that Hakeem Jeffries might become Speaker now.
Appearing on PBS Newshour Thursday night, Mr. Jeffries again spoke of the need for a bipartisan path forward. Asked whether he was suggesting that 5 Republicans should join Democrats to make him Speaker, Leader Jeffries replied:
“No this shouldn't be about any one particular individual's aspirations to lead either House Democrats or House Republicans. This is about what is good for the American people.
We've got to find a way to come together, restructure the House in a bipartisan way, designed to allow for common sense things to come to the floor, receive an up or down vote, to be able to actually move legislation that emerges from the Senate that is bipartisan in nature.
We are inherently reasonable about what we think can occur, but we just require Republican partners in order to do it.”
The interviewer wanted to know just how this would work, whether it would mean more Democrats on committees or would have a greater voice in procedures, etc. As is his practice, Mr. Jeffries was patient and gracious but direct, replying:
“Details need to be negotiated in a good faith fashion, and we are ready, willing and able to do just that. But first we need Republicans to agree on the principle.
And there are only two options here. The House can continue to be driven by the most extreme membersof the Republican conference or we can alter the legislative landscape in a structured way to facilitate bipartisan cooperation.
In other words, the priority right now is to protect and defend the integrity of the House of Representatives against MAGA extremists who've repeatedly demonstrated that they have no interest in governing. As former Speaker McCarthy observed, they "want to burn the whole place down."
Hakeem Jeffries is not seeking to be the presiding officer in the House. He’s bringing out the hoses and raising the ladders. Putting out the fire is every bit as important as identifying a consensus Speaker.
So is there anything we should still be doing?
It’s contrary to my nature to do nothing when something still can be done. Feathers of Hope is an activist network. Its members standy ready and willing to help where its needed. And Leader Jeffries has just defined what that is:
“First we need Republicans to agree on the principle.”
So far, we know only that Don Bacon agrees on the principle. That’s important, and he will be enormously influential. We can help by continuing to call other “traditional Republicans,” the same ones whom Mr. Jeffries has been reaching out to. All are committed to the institution of the House of Representatives, which is what our network believes must be protected and defended as it's under assault by MAGA extremists.
Here’s contact information for some “traditional Republicans” :
Brian Fitzpatrick: (202) 225-4276 D.C. —— (215) 579-8102 District
Mike Gallagher: (202) 225-5665 D.C. —— (920) 301-4500 District
David Joyce: (202) 225-5731 D.C. —— (440) 352-3939 District
John Curtis: (202) 225-7751 D.C. —— (801) 922-5400 District
Ashley Hinson: (202) 225-2911 D.C. —— (319) 364-2288 District
Andrew Garbarino: (202) 225-7896 D.C. —— (631) 541-4225 District
Dan Newhouse: (202) 225-5816 D.C. —— (509) 452-3243 District
David Valadao: (202) 225-4695 D.C. —— (661) 864-7736 District
Leader Jeffries concluded his interview on a hopeful note, echoing the sentiments of all of us in the Feathers of Hope network.
“I'm hopeful that my traditional Republican colleagues who are interested in governance, who care about the institution of the People's House are willing to sit down and talk with us about finding an enlightened path and agreement that allows us to do the business of the American people and solve the problems for hard-working American taxpayers.”
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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