Republicans now blocking the Speaker’s election could assert their authority again in the future.
Americans who turned on the television in time for the 1,000th vote on the House presidency on Wednesday fell first into the middle of President Joe Biden’s press conference, standing in front of a bridge.
Biden proudly explained how the vital connection across the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky, which is used by 180,000 cars daily, would be improved. The existing, almost 60-year-old two-story bridge will be renovated, and a second bridge will be built next to it. It’s all thanks to an infrastructure bill that passed last year initiated by Democrats, but supported by some Republicans.
Alongside Biden, Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky and the majority leader in the Senate, stood with equal pride. The message was clear: US political parties may dream of letting loose run the country, but in American political reality, they mostly need each other.
An hour later, the Republican Party, or at least its faction in the House of Representatives, was in for another nightmare. The narrow majority in the House of Representatives that won in November gave a group of twenty Republicans a lever to turn against party leader Kevin McCarthy and block his election as Speaker of the House.
As the House voted again and again, McCarthy made continual concessions that, if elected, would weaken his position as Speaker. But there was an unchanged result of a total of 11 votes as of Thursday evening (US time) including that the 20 party members didn’t think that was enough. That group narrowed somewhat on Friday, but lost on the twelfth and thirteenth ballots, after which the meeting was adjourned to 10pm, 2am Dutch time, at the request of one of its supporters. It is clear that McCarthy and the rest of the party leadership cherish the hope that in the intervening hours the remaining hard core of the party six can be won over.
Once Republicans wake from the nightmare—whether with McCarthy as political leader in the House or with a compromise candidate, says second-in-command Steve Scales—the daily reality will prove just as terrifying. If the 20 delegates are so seemingly ready to make a mud portrait of their fellow party members at the start of their time in the majority, how fanatical will they be in preventing any collaboration with the Democrats?
The global economic crisis
This will be even more exciting when the US national debt reaches the legal debt ceiling sometime this year. This cap must then be raised by Congress, otherwise the United States government will not be able to borrow money to do its day-to-day business and pay interest and principal on the national debt. This would herald a global economic crisis.
Raising that debt ceiling is easy for populist Republicans to portray as a license to throw money out of the government. Surely the Sleeper Twenty will only want to raise the bar if the Biden administration is willing to make massive cuts.
Under President Barack Obama, Republicans have twice blocked raising the debt ceiling. In 2011 they were awarded franchises. In 2013, Obama refused, and the Republicans gave up.
The big question is what will please twenty ultraconservatives at the next opportunity. The demand to raise the debt ceiling is an excellent opportunity for them to assert the authority extorted from McCarthy. But it’s also a chance for the Republican Party to take back the power of 20 years and frankly admit that working with the Democrats is ultimately best for the country.
Rebel Republicans control Congress
The 20 Republicans who are blocking the election of their party leader Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, Lack of respect for the old power structures in their party.
“Pop culture enthusiast. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Analyst. Student. Explorer.”