Thursday, November 16, 2023

Saving Mike’s Ass

From Charlie Pierce:

Headlines You Will Never See, Part The MCMXLV: Democrats Vote To Keep Government Open; Save Speaker’s Ass. From the Washington Post:

The House passed a short-term funding bill Tuesday that would avert a government shutdown Saturday, a major victory for new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who faced competing demands from different factions in his party. The bill would fund some government departments until mid-January and the rest through early February. It does not include spending cuts or policy changes that Republican hard-liners sought. A shutdown would leave legions of federal employees without pay just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

As far as I know, there were no outbreaks of Republican-on-Republican crime on Wednesday morning, but that doesn’t mean that Republican-on-Republican scheming has taken a holiday. From Politico:

Many House conservatives are fuming that Johnson — the most ideologically conservative speaker in decades — refused to take a hard line in his first attempt negotiating with Democrats and instead leaned on them for help. In the end, more Democrats voted for the measure than Republicans, in nearly identical numbers to the September stopgap measure that triggered McCarthy’s firing. Some tore into his strategy in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, arguing that his plan, which would allow funding levels set under Nancy Pelosi to persist for months, is tantamount to surrender. They’re not looking to oust Johnson over it. But some conservatives are privately entertaining other ways to retaliate.

Cue the organ music.

One tactic under discussion is the same one they used against McCarthy after he struck a debt deal they hated: holding the House floor hostage by tanking procedural votes. “There is a sentiment that if we can’t fight anything, then let’s just hold up everything,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of several frustrated Freedom Caucus members who has huddled with the speaker multiple times this week.

If those divisions worsen — like if conservatives make good on their threat to start blocking bills from coming to the floor — some centrist Republicans pointed out that would just increase their incentive to join forces with Democrats. Republicans openly shifting to that strategy would amount to a historic shift in House power dynamics. “It just forces us to work with Democrats — these guys play checkers, they don’t play chess,” said centrist Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

At least, what’s left of their higher functions as the prion disease takes a toll was clear enough that they realized that firing Johnson for cutting the same kind of deal as the one that did Kevin McCarthy in would probably fasten the red rubber nose on the GOP permanently.

There are a few reasons conservatives won’t push a mutiny 20 days into Johnson’s speakership, an effort Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) characterized as “untenable.” But mainly, Johnson doesn’t have the same stubborn trust issues that plagued his predecessor. McCarthy and his allies argue he was ousted not for working with Democrats to pass a spending bill, but largely due to personal animus among the eight GOP members who voted against him, particularly the leader of the rebellion, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Nevertheless, the violence is clearly simmering not far below the surface. If the Senate balks at this deal, I expect the opening scene from Gangs of New York to break out in the Speaker’s lobby. We will keep you posted on any further outbreaks.

Spoiler Alert: The Senate passed the bill and it’s on the way to the White House.

One bark on “Saving Mike’s Ass

  1. I read elsewhere that someone switched the funding priority stop dates for the two CRs. Placing a chunk of the social spending in the first one along with 2/3 of the military, with the rest of the military and social programs in the second CR. This stops the freedumb caucus from holding programs hostage, and will generate enough angst when it is widely known to keep progressives warm over the holidays. The second CR happens to expire on Groundhog Day…

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