Extreme-Right House Faction Is Revolting

[ Posted Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 – 16:33 UTC ]

[Editorial Note: OK, guilty as charged. Sometimes the temptation to run a double-meaning "...Is Revolting" headline is just too much for me to resist. Hence today's title. Mea culpa and all that sort of thing. Ahem.]

It's hard not to poke at least a little bit of fun at Speaker Kevin McCarthy's problems with the most fractious and unruly members of his caucus right now, since the whole episode is such weak tea compared to the strength the Freedom Caucus and the whole MAGA faction were supposed to have leveraged over McCarthy. They haven't exactly turned into paper tigers, but I've read more than one article in the past 24 hours which used the term "defanged," which seems about right.

The big worry for McCarthy -- chronicled by many, including yours truly -- was that having to compromise and pass legislation with truly bipartisan support in order to avoid worldwide financial catastrophe might have directly led to his speakership being challenged on the floor by members of his own party. McCarthy's excruciating election as speaker led to him cutting all kinds of backroom deals with various recalcitrant members, in order to get them to stop voting against him. Many of these deals still haven't been publicly admitted -- they still remain secret. But one that was made public was McCarthy agreeing to allow any one House member to call for a vote (at any time) on a "motion to vacate the chair" -- in essence, a no-confidence vote that might have dethroned McCarthy. So the question heading into the endgame of the debt ceiling hostage-taking showdown was whether McCarthy would immediately face such a vote, and what would happen if he didn't get enough support to continue as speaker.

That didn't happen, and it now looks like it won't be happening any time soon. There's probably a very good reason for this. While the extremists could definitely have mustered enough votes to prevent McCarthy from getting a majority who continued to back him, there simply was no plan for what to do next. If the chair had been vacated, the House would have immediately moved back to "elect a speaker" mode, and nothing else could get done until someone emerged victorious. But most of the Republican caucus would still have backed McCarthy, and there just isn't anyone from the extremists who could conceivably get enough support from the more mainstream Republicans to take over. Perhaps a compromise candidate from McCarthy's current leadership team might have been able to muster a majority, but really, would that be all that different from allowing McCarthy to continue? That would not have been a satisfying result to the extremists. Which they have apparently realized.

Other than a few disgruntled comments made to reporters, there is no real effort to stage a "motion to vacate" drama. For once, the extreme righties realized before the fact that they had no viable endgame, and so they backed off before creating the crisis. This was a measure of McCarthy's relative strength and the extremists' relative weakness, obviously.

But they had to do something to register their annoyance at McCarthy, so yesterday they hijacked the whole parliamentary process in the House and are blocking passing any "rules" (which allow specific bills to reach the floor for a vote). They are rallying behind the cry: "Hold the floor!" With 11 members voting against moving any legislation forward, the House has ground to an unceremonious halt. This is the first time such a rule hasn't passed the House in over two decades, it's worth mentioning just for historical context. So far, the legislation they've halted hasn't been exactly earthshaking -- a few "messaging" bills on gas stoves that have zero chance of being taken up by the Senate -- but they are promising to hold everything up, which has created a minor procedural nightmare for McCarthy.

I should mention that this karmically serves McCarthy right. After all, his entire debt ceiling crisis was an exercise in political hostage-taking. So for him to be stopped in his tracks by a smaller faction of Republican hostage-takers seems entirely fitting, in a cosmic sort of way.

McCarthy has reportedly been huddling with the hostage-takers today, in an effort to figure out some way forward. Let's see how that's been going, according to the Washington Post:

Throughout Wednesday morning, the group of disruptors met and spoke with [Speaker Kevin] McCarthy and his team. Leadership is still unclear what exactly the group of 11 Republicans want, and different members want different things, making it more difficult to address their concerns, according to two people close to leadership who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Got that? The 11 extremists can't even agree among themselves what they are demanding of McCarthy. Some apparently want McCarthy to guarantee floor votes on their own pet bills. Some want those secret deals McCarthy cut (to become speaker) to be expressly written down and perhaps even made public. The most fractious part of the Republican caucus is... well... fractured. What a surprise!

As of this writing, McCarthy still hasn't convinced the holdouts to play nice. He's going to have to offer them some face-saving measures to assuage their hurt feelings over the debt ceiling bill passing, obviously. The extremists didn't win that battle, and were in fact the biggest losers in the whole process. So they're playing hardball to try to claw some of that power back. But the method they've chosen to do so seems rather small compared to the threat to remove McCarthy from the speaker's chair. At this point, the probable outcome also seems no more than symbolic. McCarthy will allow some votes on some of their bills, the bills will either fail to get enough Republican support to pass, or they will actually pass the House only to wither on the vine as the Senate ignores them. McCarthy may cut some more deals with them (secret or not) which he may later weasel out of. The extremists will have their metaphorical day in the sun, which can be translated to: "they will get their faces on far-right television channels for a brief time," and eventually things will start moving forward again.

The revolt of the hard-right extremists will quickly be forgotten as the tempest in a teapot it truly is. Until the next time I am tempted to use a headline that points out the right-wing extremists are revolting, I suppose.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


7 Comments on “Extreme-Right House Faction Is Revolting”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:


    Extreme-Right House Faction Is Revolting

    So you're saying they're disgusting? *laughs*

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:


    [Editorial Note: OK, guilty as charged. Sometimes the temptation to run a double-meaning "...Is Revolting" headline is just too much for me to resist. Hence today's title. Mea culpa and all that sort of thing. Ahem.]

    Okay, about my comment at [1], guilty as charged. I probably should be patient and stop commenting on the commentaries as I read them and wait until I finish the dang thing.


    Nah! ;)

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:

    The Freedumb Caucus seems so thoroughly butthurt to the point they're making the debt ceiling deal look like a total ass-kicking victory for Joe Biden.

    Cry more. :)

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    you said it, they stink on ice!
    ~mel brooks, history of the world part 1

  5. [5] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Pat Robertson has finally dropped dead and Grave Dancers Union Local 420 is having a party this evening!

    Put Your Hands On The Screen

  6. [6] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Big Money Joe should just go ahead and cancel gas stoves forever while the cancervatives mess with his new BFF Kevin.

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:



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