Republicans and Democrats Quietly Consider a Kevin McCarthy Speaker Deal
The idea has spread around the US Capitol this week like a hopelessly lost tour group: If Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) doesn’t win enough Republican votes to become… speaker, Democrats can sponsor him — or help elect a compromise candidate to the post.
Both Republicans and Democrats rejected the proposal because Aaron Sorkin-esque fantasy or a deliberate ploy by pro-McCarthy forces to intimidate GOP supporters into supporting California Republicans.
But with speaker status still in limbo after six roll-call votes in two days, the House of Representatives still paralyzed, and McCarthy’s path to hammer still fraught with doubt, the idea was This very far-fetched is starting to sound very plausible.
Within the ranks of the Democratic Party, lawmakers and aides are quietly calculating how and when they can help break the Republican deadlock — or whether they will.
“I mean, anything is possible, right?” Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), formerly chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If they want to work with us, I mean, I think we want to do what’s right for the organization and what’s right for the country. But I’ll tell you this: I’m not a cheap date.”
While Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) said “it’s hard to know how that’s going to happen,” he is clearly thinking about what it means for the Democrats not to be a “date.” cheap dating”.
Beyer listed three requirements he thinks Democrats should have for any compromise negotiations with the Republican Party: a commitment to explicitly raise the debt limit, funding the federal government, and awarding money. more power to the committees.
That sentiment was amplified by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “If there’s any potential for some sort of coalition candidate or, you know, Democrats bailing out the Republicans, I think that’s going to have to lead to a deeper and deeper negotiation. much about the structure of the House,” she told The Daily Beast.
Ocasio-Cortez is the subject of many tweets and memes as she was seen talking to far-right McCarthy detractors Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and later Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Tuesday. But Ocasio-Cortez made it clear in a Live on Instagram that she discussed a rumor, beginning with Republicans, that Democrats were planning to “cut a deal” and withhold votes, allowing McCarthy to pressure the supporters voted for him through threats of punishment.
Ocasio-Cortez said these Republicans were just checking to see if those rumors were true. “Will there be Democrats walking away to throw McCarthy a bone and cut a deal?” she said, summarizing their questions.
Although the rumors at the time were not true, Democrats lowering the threshold for speakers by voting present — or not voting at all — remained one of the most obvious ways to The movie may end. But if Democrats agree to such a deal, then McCarthy will almost certainly pay a heavy price.
Lawmakers and aides warned that strategic planning at this stage was very preliminary and that until Wednesday night, Democrats were sitting still and leaving Republicans alone. outlined yourself.
“I don’t think that’s where we come to them,” said Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). “I think when they get angry enough, they will come to us. And I’ve had some heated conversations with them, and we’ll be ready to have those conversations when and if they come to us.”
While Slotkin told The Daily Beast that the prospect is more likely — and that she’s thought about what she wants in her negotiations with Republicans — she offers no details. . “I’m not going to talk, because I want the negotiations to work,” she said.
Some common scenarios, however, began to take shape on Wednesday, when the House adjourned for a second day without electing speakers. On Wednesday morning, Representative Don Bacon (R-NE)—a moderate Republican and McCarthy supporter—brought up the idea of McCarthy flirting with Democrats and haggling to win votes. their vote. That night, he confirmed that he was continuing to talk to Democrats.
For most Democrats, however, McCarthy is radioactive. One lawmaker, speaking anonymously to candidly describe the sentiments of colleagues, told The Daily Beast that the caucus generally believed that McCarthy’s path to the hammer was closed. Democrats appear to have little interest in helping the California Republican candidate win the 218 votes he needs, no matter what concessions may be on the table.
If McCarthy’s bid falters, some Democrats said they would consider serious concessions along with the suitable compromise candidate. Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) told Fox News that Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a leading moderate, would agree with him, as would Representative Mike Gallagher (R- WI). The Democratic lawmaker also drew another red line: Democrats would only support a Republican who didn’t vote against the 2020 election results. Such a scenario could only get attention. not only if McCarthy fails, but if Republicans also fail to unite around another speaker candidate.
If 20 conservative hardliners can stop McCarthy, the resistance they — and possibly many more Republicans — could offer to a more moderate candidate will be even more intense. than in comparison. Conversely, if McCarthy cannot win votes from his own convention and a new candidate emerges, then “Only Kevin“The caucus can give conservatives a taste of their own medicine.
Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said Wednesday he is willing to “hold out forever” in electing McCarthy and that McCarthy will have to resign from Congress so he can consider a candidate. is different.
If McCarthy’s stubborn detractors don’t want to move, and McCarthy’s strongest supporters aren’t willing to consider anyone else either, then the Democratic vote is more of a necessity than a test. thought experiment.
However, some of the concessions Democrats may demand may be too hard to swallow even for deal-minded Republicans. Some people may completely balk at the idea of teaming up with Democrats to elect even a Republican.
But the very same fundamentals that empowered the anti-McCarthy faction to shut down the House so loudly may also allow a large number of key Republicans and Democrats to make it work again. . Currently, the GOP holds 222 seats, while the Democrats hold 212.
Even if the chances of Democratic intervention fade and Republicans rally around one candidate, it is a harbinger for the GOP majority that these scenarios have even been considered. Electing a speaker is the first and most fundamental duty of governing. Over the next two years, Republicans will have to pass bills to fund the federal government and pay off its debts without triggering a catastrophic default.
If McCarthy’s struggles are any indication, those tasks could be much more difficult for Republicans than in previous years — and empower the Democratic minority.
“The bottom line is,” says McGovern, “no matter who the speaker is, if you want to get anything done here, you have to partner with us.”
The broad expectation of the caucus was that McCarthy would withdraw from the debate, the Democratic lawmaker told The Daily Beast. And yet, there are some signs that informal negotiations are taking place across the aisle, especially between the centrist members.
Moderate Democrats, including Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), spent time sitting on the Republican side of the House chamber Wednesday, chatting with their Republican colleagues.
But if any Democrats step in to break the deadlock, whatever they do will be blessed by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
“If Republicans want to talk about something, they should contact Leader Jeffries,” said Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI), who is close to the new minority leader. “I do not encourage members to do freelance work.”
House Democrats have so far had a stellar record of six ballots, each time voting unanimously for Jeffries without a single absence. Reports that Democrats might vote out of boredom or to allow Republicans with a lower delegate count are still inconclusive.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said Democrats understand the options in front of them. “But we’re not going to get into any hypothetical,” he said, going on to nominate Jeffries three more times after that.
But even if the ongoing speaker failure brings Democrats some bitter disappointment, the advantages for them to hold out will shrink over time. While it prevents Republicans from going to work, it also prevents Democrats—from taking the oath of office, hiring certain employees, passing any laws, etc.
There’s also the misery of persisting in a loop, polling the same thing over and over again. On Tuesday, Democrats were cheerful and chatty during the polls, many with their families entering the room. But on Wednesday, like the Republicans in the room, the Democrats looked more tired. They are still significantly more ardent than their conservative counterparts, but the excitement of enjoying Republican pain is clearly starting to wear off.
After the sixth round of voting, McGovern told The Daily Beast, “I’m trying to come up with a good word for shitshow. But that’s what’s going on.”