Let’s dig into the circus that is the United States House of Representatives right now

January 4 – It’s been just about 100 years since we’ve seen this kind of chaos in the United States House of Representatives. 

The House convened yesterday to begin the 2023 legislative session. The first item of business? Elect a speaker. 

That’s where it all ground to a halt. 

Minority leader Kevin McCarthy has wanted the speaker role for a while now. So much so that he moved into the speaker’s office yesterday – before any votes were taken. 

When the first ballot rolled around, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy. The same thing happened with the second vote. By the time the third ballot was called, another Republican joined the no vote for McCarthy. 

Republican Representative Byron Donalds from Florida said, “A lot of people back home are trying to figure out what’s going on on Capitol Hill, but what we are really having is a deliberative process about House leadership and about what is needed to get Washington back on track. For too long in the nation’s capital, everybody has just gone along with the next wave of leadership.”

Donalds had told reporters that he likes McCarthy, but after two votes with no traction it was time to move on. 

The fourth ballot will begin today at noon. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I think if you start to see other Republican Congressmen take the position of Donalds and they just start peeling off, even saying, ‘look we wanted McCarthy. That’s our guy, but we have to move on. We can’t just keep spinning our wheels here for days or weeks on end.’ I don’t see a path for McCarthy at this point. I think McCarthy made huge missteps the last few days, moving into the speaker’s office.” 

Reporting yesterday at the morning breakfast was he screamed at the caucus that he earned this position. 

Barkdoll suggested, “That turned a lot of rank and file Congressmen off. It sounds like there was a lot of dissention in that meeting.” 

So has anything changed overnight? Not really. 

Barkdoll explained, “McCarthy is dug in. He’s saying he’s going nowhere. He’ll sit there through a hundred ballots if he needs to. It doesn’t appear that any of these 20 no votes are changing their vote to support McCarthy, either, and we don’t have an alternate name.” 

So the House may continue like this for days on end. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “What I don’t understand is this refusal by these leadership Republicans in the House and within the party to call out the Senate. They set this all up. They created this mess. As much as people want to Freedom Caucus, wait a minute, it is the Republican Senators that set up this awful scenario where people now, including the Congress people that have been mistrusting of how leadership’s been doing stuff because they’ve done nothing. They’ve kept us in limbo on so many issues. They’re saying no. After what the Senate did we don’t trust any of you and there has to be either major changes with the rules so that we can stop what happened at the end of last year, next year. It’s not just that the House didn’t have Democrat control. It’s that the Senate betrayed the House. So they’re saying, no we need more assurance that we’re going to have things under control with the House now in our hands. Change the rules committee. Make sure this can’t happen and yet, you hear nothing from the Republican leadership. No outcry against these Senators. I don’t understand. How do they think we can trust what they’re doing when all of this has happened?” 

Late in the day yesterday, big Republican donors came out criticizing what’s going on, saying the party is being damaged. This would be the time when proposals and committee assignments would be churned out, but instead, everything is stalled. 

Barkdoll said, “They can’t do anything. The House is in paralysis until a speaker is elected. I’m struck this morning that you’re seeing conservative media outlets with very critical editorials about what these House Republicans are doing.” 

The New York Post headline today is “Grow Up” with a picture of Representative Lauren Boebert on the cover. 

The Wall Street Journal is referring to this as the “chaos caucus.” 

Barkdoll said, “Their conclusion is that if the Republicans don’t get this figured out, they’re quickly going to be back in minority status in the House because America is watching this. People want something done. They want governing to happen. They’re not going to sit back quietly if this turns into days or weeks of votes and they can’t get a speaker installed.” 

Jansen noted, “The problem, they’re buying into the narrative scenario and they’re furthering the narrative scenario. Let’s pick the conservatives and marginalize and blame them, which is what the Democrat Party and the mainstream media have spent the last two years capitalizing on and turning into an art form. Now we have the donors and the mainstream Republicans and the Uniparty people just furthering that narrative. Good job, Republicans. You’re right. We are never going to be in power again because you’re becoming Uniparty. So whatever the Democrats are doing, you’re just going to keep helping them do, which is what they’re doing right now. This is just repulsive. And I don’t care. You can say you have all these laws ready to go. They’re all going to be vetoed by Biden, so that doesn’t even matter. What would have mattered would be having the power of the purse right now, which the GOP in the Senate took away from them. It’s pointless and moot for them to be talking about this because we don’t have the juice unless there’s some major changes with the way the Republican Party’s doing something. I’m sorry, the Freedom Caucus is right in this instance. They don’t even necessarily want McCarthy to leave. They just want him to fix the rules so that this won’t keep happening to us, but he won’t do that.” 

Barkdoll agreed, “They can pass all the things they want, these things have zero chance of becoming law. There’s no way all of these things make it through the Senate. There’s no way they’re going to get through a president’s approval. You don’t hear enough talked about on that, either.” 

It’s doubtful the 20 no-votes will change for McCarthy. 

Barkdoll added, “There is this wild card scenario of the Democrats creating some mischief here.” 

The Democrats could walk out of the Chamber. The majority of the votes of the people who are present are needed to elect a speaker. 

Barkdoll continued, “So if the Democrats want to put their thumb on the scale for McCarthy or for someone else, they could organize and have, say, 20 of their members walk out of the Chamber, which would then lower the threshold that the would-be speaker needs to get elected. I don’t think they’ll do that yet today, but if this rolls into Friday or next week, that is the other wild card I think that could happen.” 

Is there really anything the House can do on issues like the southern border or the 87,000 IRS agents? 

Barkdoll said, “All of these things, these are things that we all know and they need to happen, but I don’t see how the House can just do all this in a vacuum. Unless they get buy-in from the White House and the Senate, the House can’t unilaterally do any of this.”

Now in October, they could jam up some of the funding on a number of these issues. 

Barkdoll said, “Between now and October, I don’t really see how they would get any of these other initiatives to the finish line.” 

Jansen noted, “Meanwhile they’re increasing all the laws that have all this ideology woven into it that’s just going to increase the number of people who will vote for them, will keep indoctrinating people to go along with their way of thinking. We’re not stopping any of that and they don’t even have the chance to do that with what they’re doing.” 

When it comes to any possible Democrat mischief and possibly walking out of the Chamber, what could that do to the Republicans? 

Jansen asked, “Are the Republicans so stupid as to not realize if that happened, there’d be some control then and thankfulness between McCarthy and the Democrats for helping him achieve that position. That’s the last thing in the world that we need. McCarthy should be big enough to put the country in front of his own ambitions and not allow that to happen, but I’m afraid we’re working with a real egomaniac here who just has to do it. The other thing I would say if he would get this and then punish these people, how revolting is that?” 

Newt Gingrich allegedly said the Republicans voting against McCarthy will be punished because the people will vote them out. 

Jansen said, “Really? We’re going to vote out the very people who want to uphold the rule of law and the constitution out of the Republican Party, instead of the people that are damaging that? That makes no sense to me.” 

Barkdoll pointed out, “To take that a step further, what if 30 Democrats get together today and they meet privately with McCarthy and say ‘look, we’re going to step out to allow you to be elected speaker, but here are the concessions we want’ and they want to help hand pick who some of the committee chairs are. It would give the Democrats a tremendous amount of leverage over him and these 20 people that have been voting no on McCarthy and the Freedom Caucus, they would essentially be put in a corner with no power whatsoever because you can bet they’re not going to be given any assignments they would want for the next two years, so that would create even a further mess.” 

There are four or five other names out there that could be put on the floor to be speaker that could shift the dynamics here. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “Do you really think the American people are paying that close attention to this? We’re in it because we can see the long play on it, but the majority of America?” 

Barkdoll said, “I think the majority of America gives the House a pass for now, but if this turns into several more days, remember the House can’t introduce any legislation or do anything while this situation is pending. So if these few days turn into a few weeks, I do think you’re going to see a lot of Americans get very annoyed by this in as much that all of these big ticket issues, whether it’s the economy, the southern border, energy, nothing is going to get addressed in the House because they’ve been unable to elect a speaker. I do think it sends a bad message if this goes on for too long, it’s going to be very difficult when some of these people are running for election in two years to say keep us in because we are your leaders, we are the leadership of this country, when they’re not even able to elect a speaker.”