The Republicans/MAGA July 2023-

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The Republicans
The Lincoln Project
What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory
The 45th President of the U.S.

Heather Cox Richardson: February 25, 2024
The last several days have seen a Republican stampede to distance the party from the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision of a week ago, when it ruled that embryos frozen for in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be considered children and that their injury can be treated like injury to a child.
That decision has led major healthcare providers in Alabama to stop IVF procedures out of fear of prosecution.
IVF is very popular—about 2% of babies born in the U.S. are the product of IVF—and Republicans recognize that endangering the procedure has the potential to be a dealbreaker in the upcoming election.
The fury at the Alabama decision of those who have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars in their quest to be parents was articulated yesterday in a conversation between Abbey Crain and Stephanie McNeal of Glamour….
The Alabama decision is a direct result of the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, decided thanks to the three religious extremists former president Trump nominated to the Supreme Court. That decision referred to fetuses as “unborn human being[s]” when it overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion. The Alabama decision cited the Dobbs case 15 times, relying on it to establish that “the unborn” are “living persons with rights and interests.”
Republicans are now denying they intended to halt IVF with their antiabortion stance and their appointment of religious extremists to the courts. But that position doesn’t square with the fact that since the Dobbs decision, they have pressed for so-called personhood laws, laws that give the full rights of a person to an embryo from the time of conception. Since Dobbs, sixteen state legislatures have introduced personhood laws, and four Republican-dominated states—Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona, although Arizona’s has been blocked—have passed them.

18 February
David French: MAGA’s Violent Threats Are Warping Life in America
Sometimes we are called to speak. Sometimes we are called to stand guard. All the time we can at least comfort those under threat, telling them with words and deeds that they are not alone. If we do that, we can persevere. Otherwise, the fear will be too much for good people to bear.
(NYT) Amid the constant drumbeat of sensational news stories — the scandals, the legal rulings, the wild political gambits — it’s sometimes easy to overlook the deeper trends that are shaping American life. For example, are you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?
… Mitt Romney faces so many threats that he spends $5,000 per day on security to protect his family. After Jan. 6, the former Republican congressman Peter Meijer said that at least one colleague voted not to certify the election out of fear for the safety of their family. Threats against members of Congress are pervasive, and there has been a shocking surge since Trump took office. Last year, Capitol Police opened more than 8,000 threat assessments, an eightfold increase since 2016.
Nor is the challenge confined to national politics. In 2021, Reuters published a horrifying and comprehensive report detailing the persistent threats against local election workers. In 2022, it followed up with another report detailing threats against local school boards.
The threats drive decent men and women from public office. They isolate and frighten dissenters.
16 February
A chaotic US House is losing three Republican committee chairs to retirement in the span of a week
(AP) — In a single week, the Republican chairs of three House committees announced they would not be seeking reelection, raising questions about whether the chaos that has reigned this Congress is driving out some of the GOP’s top talent.
What makes the retirements particularly noteworthy is that none of the chairs were at risk of losing their position due to the term limits that House Republicans impose on their committee leaders. They conceivably could have returned to the same leadership roles in the next Congress, but chose instead to leave and give up jobs they had worked years to obtain.

Heather Cox Richardson: February 7, 2024
Amidst the Republican meltdown in Washington, a disturbing pattern is emerging.
Trump’s actions are not those designed to win an election by getting a majority of the votes. They are the tools someone who cannot win a majority uses to seize power.
Under pressure from former president Donald Trump, Republican senators today killed the $118 billion Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act that provided funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and humanitarian assistance for Gaza and also included protections for the border that Republicans themselves had demanded.
After four months of Senate negotiations over the bill produced a strong bipartisan agreement, Trump pulled the rug out from under a measure that gave the Republicans much of what they wanted, partly because he wanted the issue of immigration and the border to run on in 2024, it seems, but also to demonstrate that he could command Congress to do his bidding.
… Trump’s actions are not those designed to win an election by getting a majority of the votes. They are the tools someone who cannot win a majority uses to seize power.
Trump’s base is shrinking as his actions become more extreme, but he has a big megaphone, and it is getting bigger. As Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova pointed out in the Washington Post today, Putin’s awarding of an interview to right-wing former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson in Moscow this week “demonstrated Putin’s interest in building bridges to the disruptive MAGA element of the Republican Party, and it seemed to reflect the Kremlin’s hope that Donald Trump would return to the presidency and that Republicans would continue to block U.S. military aid to Ukraine.”

21 January
How DeSantis collapsed in the glare of a presidential campaign
His once promising candidacy came to an abrupt end Sunday.
(Politico) DeSantis on Sunday afternoon exited the presidential race and endorsed former President Donald Trump, saying: “I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory.”
It’s a bruising end for a candidate looking to take his winning streak in Florida national and demonstrate to Republicans that he could continue the MAGA-favored policies of isolationism and cultural conservatism without the signature Trump chaos.
Trump is not a colossus. And his party is a mess.
The prevailing wisdom going into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary sees Donald Trump as triumphant. But don’t mistake him for a colossus leading a mighty band. This view ignores the opportunism behind many of the endorsements he is winning and the sharp split between Republicans who want to govern and those who don’t.
Though there is certainly polarization between our parties, the primary cause of the deep distemper in American politics is the polarization within the Republican Party. Trump’s apparent dominance distracts from what the behavior of elected GOP politicians in Washington teaches us day after day: The party is a mess.
Trump’s victory in the Iowa caucuses created the feel of a party falling in behind him. Telling were endorsements from Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), two politicians the vindictive front-runner repeatedly mocked, humiliated and slandered. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom Trump routinely referred to as “Ron DeSanctimonious,” dropped out of the race and endorsed his tormentor. So much for self-respect.
Just look at the Republican majority in the House, which can’t govern without Democratic help. Meanwhile, Senate and House Republicans are at odds on the most important foreign policy question of the moment: whether the United States will continue to stand up against Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
In the House last week, Republicans were divided into almost perfect halves over whether to keep the federal government open until at least March: They voted 107-106 for a deal between House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). To get the supermajority he needed, Johnson required nearly unified Democratic support — 207 votes to 2.

16 January
With Trump’s win [in Iowa], Liz Cheney and anti-MAGA GOP voters face a choice
If Trump is the nominee, will it be time to depart from the Republican Party? And if the answer is yes, what to do in November and beyond?
Jennifer Rubin
Former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, who has become the most articulate voice of sanity on the right, does not want to crush one of the challengers’ chances, no matter how slight. So don’t expect her to do anything to foreclose whatever small possibility remains to defeat Trump in the primaries. That said, Cheney has begun to look ahead.

Heather Cox Richardson January 2, 2024
Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) today submitted his resignation, effective January 21, to become the president of Youngstown State University. This shaves the Republican majority in the House of Representatives even thinner. With the recent expulsion of George Santos (R-NY) and resignation of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republicans will control just 219 seats, permitting them a margin of only two seats to pass legislation when the House returns on January 9.
The Republican House has been one of the least effective in history, and it has its work cut out for it in the new year. The first phase of the continuing resolution Congress passed in November to fund the government expires on January 19, ending funding for transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, and veterans’ affairs. The second phase expires on February 2. Much of the 2018 Farm Bill that covers food and farm aid expired in 2023. As of yesterday, January 1, the items usually covered in farm bills fall under a hodge-podge of fixes, with some old provisions from the 1930s and 1940s going back into force.
Also outstanding is the measure to provide supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico, as well as providing humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
House Republicans refused to pass that measure unless it included their own extreme anti-immigration measures, but they have refused to participate in efforts to hash out legislation, clearly preferring to keep the issue hot to use against the Democrats in 2024. Since President Joe Biden took office, he and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have asked Congress for additional funding for Customs and Border Patrol officers and additional immigration courts, but despite Republicans’ own demand for such legislation, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) wrote to Biden in December demanding that he impose stricter immigration rules and build a border wall through executive action. Today, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) echoed the idea that Biden, not Congress, should deal with the border.

2023

6 December
Kevin McCarthy delivers an elbow to the GOP’s skinny House majority
(WaPo) McCarthy writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways.”
Two months after pledging to everyone that you’re not going resign and that you’re going to stay in the House, you pull the lever on the ejector seat? Whatever happened to “help[ing] the people I got here”? Whatever happened to expanding the majority?
The House currently consists of 221 Republicans, 213 Democrats and one vacancy, with Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) expelled Dec. 1. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul scheduled the special election in New York to replace Santos for Feb. 13. That’s a fairly competitive district, scoring a D+2 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. Special elections traditionally see low turnout, so it’s anybody’s guess whether the Republicans keep that seat.

4 December
The Case for Conservative Internationalism
How to Reverse the Inward Turn of Republican Foreign Policy
By Kori Schake
(Foreign Affairs January/February 2024) The GOP’s disorder is especially evident—and dangerous—in the realm of foreign policy. For decades since 1952, the Republican Party had a fairly clear international vision: promote American security and economic power while supporting the expansion of democracy around the world. That meant providing for a strong military, cooperating with allies to advance shared interests, and boosting U.S. power in international institutions. It meant advancing free trade, ensuring fair international competition for U.S. companies, and promoting the rule of law in immigration policy. And it meant opposing authoritarianism, especially when autocrats directly challenged U.S. interests.
Republicans’ commitments to these principles have weakened dramatically.

2 December
The GOP primary campaign could be over just as Trump’s trials are getting underway
On Super Tuesday, March 5, Republicans will have allocated almost half of their delegates, just as the first criminal case against former President Donald Trump is getting underway.
The final Republican National Committee nominating calendar is out – and it means the GOP primary campaign could essentially be over just as the first criminal case against former President Trump is getting underway.
That’s because after Super Tuesday — March 5 — Republicans will have allocated almost half of its delegates. A week later, 54% will be set, and, by the end of the month, 71%.
Trump’s federal trial for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election is set to begin March 4 – the day before Super Tuesday – after a judge rejected the defense’s request earlier this year to delay the case to 2026.
The outcome and timeline of the trial is also notable because almost half of Republican voters have said they wouldn’t support the former president if he is convicted of a felony, according to an August Reuters/Ipsos poll.
But this primary calendar means there won’t be a verdict in any of the multiple cases against Trump before the nominee is essentially decided.

House expels George Santos in historic vote
The extraordinary move, unseen in 20 years, took three attempts over six months and required support from large numbers in both parties to meet the inflated threshold — two-thirds of the chamber — for expelling a sitting member. The final tally, 311-114-2, surpassed that mark, with 105 Republicans joining almost all Democrats to remove the scandal-plagued Santos after just 11 months in office.
Once seen as a GOP trailblazer, Santos is facing federal indictment on 23 counts of wire fraud, identity theft and other campaign finance charges, and many Republicans came to view him as a drag on the party’s image and a liability heading into a tough election cycle where control of the House is up for grabs.
Yet Santos’s ouster also creates immediate hassles for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and his leadership team, whose razor-thin House majority just got a seat thinner heading into high-stakes battles to prevent a government shutdown and provide new funding for Ukraine and Israel — two topics that have created fierce rifts within the GOP conference.
Highlighting those internal divisions, 112 Republicans — more than half of the conference — backed Santos on Friday despite the growing controversy swirling around him. Those voices warned that removing an elected lawmaker from office — without a criminal conviction — sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to unwarranted, politically motivated expulsions in the future.

28-30 November
Now It’s Nikki Haley
She’s squarely challenging Ron DeSantis for second place in the Republican primary, no matter how second that place may be.
By John Hendrickson
(The Atlantic) … Haley bounded up onstage in a light-blue blazer and jeans. “We’ve been through a lot together,” she told the crowd. She meandered back and forth—no lectern, no teleprompter. When you ask people what they like about her, many point to her presence, her poise. Haley delivers her stump speech in a singsong voice. A few words, a pause, a smile. Speaking to the Low Country crowd, she seemed to be thickening her southern accent and peppering in a few extra-emphatic finger points for good measure. She’s just a down-home, neighborly southerner whose most recent job happened to be in Manhattan, serving at the United Nations.
Koch-Tied Group Backs Nikki Haley to Beat Trump
Koch making first foray into presidential politics since 2012
Grassroots organizing, data to boost Haley in Iowa caucuses
(Bloomberg) A super political action committee with close ties to billionaire donor Charles Koch is throwing its support behind Nikki Haley, saying she is the best candidate to thwart GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for the nomination.

8 November
Who won, who lost and who went ‘unhinged’ in Miami
Donald Trump’s rivals finally went after him in the third GOP debate. For a moment.
(Politico) For the first time in weeks, it looked like Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley — the two candidates vying for second place in the GOP primary — might start competing not strictly with each other, but with the frontrunner, too.
For a few minutes, they did.
But it didn’t last. Instead, the duration of the night was spent on foreign policy, or President Joe Biden, or in combat with Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur.
Coming one day after GOP losses in the off-year elections, the third debate offered the candidates an opportunity to go after Trump. But asked in their closing statements to explain why Republican primary voters should choose them over him, not a single candidate mentioned the former president by name.
Voters deliver few bright spots for GOP as political reality hits home
Eight years of Donald Trump’s chaotic leadership, a House Republican conference in turmoil and one very big Supreme Court decision on abortion rights have combined to produce untold damage to the Republican Party, a reality that hit home with special force in elections on Tuesday.
(WaPo) Voters delivered very few bright spots for Republicans and much to worry about. Once again, Democrats outperformed expectations, as they did in the 2022 midterm elections. If not a blue wave on Tuesday night, the results reinforced the worries among some Republicans that their brand has become too toxic to many voters and that whatever weaknesses they see in President Biden, their own problems are acute.

3 November
Major Pence donor flips to Haley after former VP drops out
One of Mike Pence’s biggest donors is shifting his support to Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign after the former vice president suspended his 2024 run last week, reports POLITICO’s Meredith McGraw.
The move is the latest among top Republican donors to Haley’s campaign, as the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador rises in the GOP primary.
The surge in donor interest comes with Haley on an upswing in the primary. Through still running far behind Trump, she has tied or surpassed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second place in recent polls.
… Haley has been helped immeasurably by the debates, where she’s been cogent, well-informed and combative. She’s tapped into the tough and unapologetic Thatcherite model of what a female politician should be that’s still so resonant for Republicans.
… The Haley approach has been outside-in — establish dominance among the Trump-skeptical wing of the party and then use that strength to eat into soft Trump supporters willing to give her a look as she rises.

28 October
It ended in Sin City. But Mike Pence’s campaign was DOA for months.
Pence had focused on evangelical-rich Iowa as his path to the nomination. But he could never seem to draw a crowd.
(Politico) Pence may never have had much of a chance. Despite his long-held presidential ambitions — he weighed runs in 2012 and 2016 — he faced a GOP electorate that had soured on his Reagan-era brand of politics. … Suspending his presidential campaign is not likely the last time Pence will make news in the coming months. He withheld a potential endorsement in his remarks Saturday, but others could court it.
Pence’s presence may be felt in ways more profound than an endorsement. He will likely be a prominent figure in Trump’s Jan. 6 trial, set to begin March 4, 2024, the day before Super Tuesday. He also is slated to release a second book with his daughter Charlotte Pence Bond on Nov. 14, called “Go Home for Dinner.”

25-26 October
What Kind of Political Creature is Mike Johnson?
The speaker has skated to reelection three times in a one-party state — which isn’t the best preparation for defending 221 seats spread across nearly every region of the nation.
(Politico) What kind of political creature is Johnson? How much does he understand about the modern political map and the field conditions affecting his conference?
All members of Congress are political animals, of course. But the ones who rise on the national stage often have a more sophisticated and nuanced grasp of the political landscape beyond their own backyard, and a climatologist’s feel for the atmospheric patterns from state to state and region to region.
Mike Johnson is a social conservative’s social conservative
(Politico Nightly) It’s finally over. After more than three weeks without a leader, House Republicans came together to unanimously select Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) as the 56th Speaker of the House of Representatives. Johnson served as a consensus pick among the numerous factions, appeasing both the right flank of the party that tossed out former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and moderates. While he’s served as vice chair of the Republican Conference, he has served just four terms in Congress and remains little-known within Washington.
What’s clear, however, is that Johnson is a social conservative’s social conservative — the most culturally conservative lawmaker to ascend to the speakership in decades, if not longer.
He has longstanding ties to the evangelical activist group Family Research Council — which could one day prove discomfiting to members from swing districts or of a more secular orientation.

17-22 October
Here are the nine Republicans running for House speaker
(WaPo) The Republican conference is expected to meet Monday evening to hear from this new crop of candidates seeking the gavel. The group is expected to vote as early as Tuesday on its next speaker-designate.
Democrats, meanwhile, are widely expected to continue nominating and voting for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
House Republicans drop Jim Jordan as their nominee for speaker
The vote to remove Jordan was 112 to 86. The move leaves the Republican conference without a nominee more than two weeks after the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker.
Stonewall Jordan marches Republicans into the wilderness
By Dana Milbank
(WaPo) Almost a year ago, voters entrusted Republicans with control of the House. And this is what they have done with it:
Fifteen rounds of voting to choose a speaker in January. Nine months of lurching between crises and failed votes on the House floor. A march to impeach President Biden on fabricated charges. The ouster of the speaker. A successful coup to topple the man Republicans nominated to replace the ousted speaker. Two failed speaker votes (and counting) on the House floor for the man who led the coup. Seventeen days (and counting) without a functioning House of Representatives at a time of two wars and a looming government shutdown. And no solution in sight.
GOP’s Jordan says he’s still running for House gavel, but plan for a temporary speaker falls flat
The combative Jordan delivered the message at a fiery closed-door meeting at the Capitol as the Republican majority considered an extraordinary plan to give the interim speaker pro tempore more powers for the next several months to bring the House back into session and conduct crucial business, according to Republicans familiar with the private meeting who insisted on anonymity to discuss it.
Next Speaker vote pushed to Wednesday after Jordan falls short: Live updates
(The Hill) Rep. Jim Jordan and his allies took Tuesday afternoon to regroup after a vote in the House earlier in the day had 20 Republicans come out against his bid to become Speaker.
Jordan (R-Ohio) secured 200 of the necessary 217 votes, while Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) got the full backing of Democratic members, with 212 votes.
Jim Jordan Could Have a Long Fight Ahead
After losing his first speakership vote on the House floor, Jordan finds himself in the same position that Kevin McCarthy was in at the start of the year.
By Russell Berman
Jordan’s record, and the possibility that he would be an electoral vulnerability for the GOP, was clearly weighing on Republicans before the vote.
… Democrats believed that the election of such a polarizing Republican could, along with the general collapse of governance by the GOP, help them recapture the chamber next year. But they were appalled that Republicans might elevate to the speakership a far-right ideologue many of them have labeled an insurrectionist.
Jim Jordan Wikipedialong, detailed entry

16 October
Nikki Haley rising
(Politico) The latest Federal Election Commission reports offer a revealing look at the financial vigor of the various Republican campaigns, letting us see who’s minting money and who’s sputtering. The quarterly filings also underscore an emerging campaign storyline — Nikki Haley is on a trajectory to become the Trump alternative.
Former President Donald Trump remains dominant in polling and in fundraising. But the new FEC reports — and recent polling — reveal the former South Carolina governor and ambassador’s momentum, which began after a strong performance in the first GOP debate in June.
Along with her gradual rise in the polls, Haley is raising enough money to be competitive with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s held the second-place position since entering the race in May but has seen his fundraising slow.

13-14 October
Playbook: Will Jim Jordan bully his way to 21
By RACHAEL BADE, RYAN LIZZA and EUGENE DANIELS
While Jordan won the GOP nomination for speaker yesterday, … An eye-popping 81 Republicans rejected Jordan in favor of a low-key backbencher …
“We were shocked at the number of people who did not vote for him,” Rep. DANIEL WEBSTER (R-Fla.) told Bloomberg’s Billy House. “There was nowhere else to go, and they still didn’t want to go there.”

Heather Cox Richardson October 13, 2023
With a war in Europe and a war in the Middle East and government funding running out on November 17, not to mention all the other work that falls to Congress, the House did not hold a single floor vote this week.
Essentially, the Republican extremists have paralyzed the government in the midst of an unusually dangerous time. While President Joe Biden and the Democrats are trying to demonstrate that democracy works better than authoritarianism, they seem bent on undermining that idea.
Democrats refuse to help GOP out of House speaker mess, trashing Jim Jordan as an ‘insurrectionist’
Democratic leaders spoke on the steps of the Capitol and dialed up their rhetoric against Republicans for nominating a conservative firebrand to be the next House speaker.
The fiery comments represent an early marker from Democratic leaders about how they would seek to tie the GOP majority, particularly swing-district members they’re targeting in 2024, to Jordan’s brand if Republicans elect him speaker.
The speakership saga takes another turn
(Politico Nightly) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) today won the GOP conference’s nomination with 124 votes. If this week’s events serve as a guide, though, there’s an ocean of difference between that secret-ballot vote and actually winning on the House floor. …just as hardliners in the Republican House conference refused to back Scalise, moderate Republicans are now exhibiting their unwillingness to rubber stamp a Jordan nomination. Fifty-five House Republicans have already indicated they won’t support Jordan in a floor vote, at least for now. They’ll take up the issue again Monday.
… It leaves House Republicans stuck, with no obvious candidate who can satisfy the wishes of the entire conference — though the situation could change at any moment. The inability to compromise signals deep disarray within the Republican conference, but it also demonstrates the ways in which House leadership’s relationship to the rank and file has changed over the years — and how it affects how Congress might function moving forward.

9-12 October
Scalise hits a wall. Time for Plan B?
The way forward for the House GOP continues to be murky.
He still doesn’t have the votes: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise might have won the House GOP’s nomination to serve as speaker. But a growing number of members say he doesn’t have the 217 votes he needs to win the gavel on the floor — and some are casting serious doubt on whether he can ever get there.
The GOP conference met Thursday afternoon for almost three hours, with a majority of the members emerging frustrated, disillusioned and ready to turn to other options.
Heather Cox Richardson October 12, 2023
Aaron Fritschner, the chief of staff for Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), noted today that since it’s mid-session, no new candidate for speaker has prime positions to offer in exchange for votes. Leadership positions have already been handed out, and legislative promises have already been made. That leaves a potential speaker with relatively little leverage to consolidate power.

 The House recesses as Scalise looks to secure Speakership votes:
Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) came out on top as House Republicans met Wednesday to pick their nominee for Speaker. But, the conference was closely divided.
Paralyzed US House can’t even wave to Israel
The war in Israel leaves Republican lawmakers in a tough spot. Since a small group of ultrapartisan hardliners ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week, the now-leaderless US House of Representatives has been unable to pass even the simplest piece of legislation. It can’t even vote to signal support for a US ally under attack.
At the moment, the House has no leader capable of advancing legislative business, and neither of the two lead candidates to replace McCarthy – Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio – has marshaled enough support from Republican members to clarify where all this is headed and how quickly.
Republicans Search for Unity on Speaker Candidate Ahead of Vote
A majority of G.O.P. lawmakers had yet to declare a preference between the two announced candidates, and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was leaving the door open to a return to the post.
House Republicans brace for drawn-out speaker fight
Kevin McCarthy says he’s willing to return as House speaker as Republicans begin to assess how they might be able to offer aid to Israel
(WaPo) Republicans returned to the Capitol on Monday under increased pressure to coalesce around a leader so that the House can begin work to provide aid to Israel after Hamas-backed attacks left hundreds dead and prompted Israel to declare war. Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) doesn’t have much authority to do anything besides oversee the election of a new speaker. But some Republicans also have begun back-channel talks with some Democrats to see if both parties could find a way to give McHenry more authority if Republicans cannot coalesce around a speaker this week.
House Republicans are now scrambling to figure out how to govern — and elect a speaker — with only their majority’s votes, while a small group could hold up any progress. The process of electing a speaker has again tested the ideologically fractious conference, with hard-right and moderate lawmakers pushing to ensure their political and electoral needs are represented.
Heather Cox Richardson: October 9, 2023
the House of Representatives is without a speaker, making it unclear what, if any, business other than electing a new speaker it can conduct. The two candidates in the race for speaker—Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH)—apparently hope to be elected from within the Republican conference, but neither has shown any sign of being able to find the necessary votes.
Scalise is saddled with his own declaration years ago that he was like Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke “without the baggage,” and—in addition to old accusations of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse of the Ohio State University wrestlers on the team of which he was the assistant coach between 1987 and 1995—Jordan is closely associated with the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Republicans from more moderate districts are likely to be reluctant to back either of them.
Today, former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested he would be willing to return to the speaker’s chair and noted that he had more votes than any other current Republican candidate when the extremists ousted him last week.
This evening, House Republicans met in private to discuss the speakership. They are expected to hold a candidate forum tomorrow and a private vote on a nominee Wednesday. They then hope to have a candidate to take forward for a floor vote.

Matt Gaetz Is Half Right
The House leadership model is obsolete. But Gaetz is part of the problem.
By Lee Drutman
(The Atlantic) In ousting McCarthy from the speakership last week, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and several Freedom Caucus members still clamored for regular order, a legislative process in which bills are deliberated on committees with input from various members before getting to the floor. But Gaetz and company were madder about something else—that the speaker they had purposefully weakened at the beginning of the year had gone ahead and compromised with Democrats to pass a spending bill.
What Gaetz and his cohort don’t seem to realize is that by heightening partisan divides over unwinnable fights on the debt ceiling and government spending, they are undermining the conditions necessary for a more decentralized, and functional, Congress.

Heather Cox Richardson: October 6, 2023
In a Washington Post op-ed today, House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) offered House Republicans a “path to a better place” than the “dysfunction and rancor they have allowed to engulf the House.” … Jeffries offered to work with willing Republicans “to reform the rules of the House in a manner that permits us to govern in a pragmatic fashion.” Stating up front his willingness to negotiate, Jeffries wrote that the House “should be restructured to promote governance by consensus and facilitate up-or-down votes on bills that have strong bipartisan support.” This would stop a few extremist Republicans from preventing “common-sense legislation from ever seeing the light of day.” …
Jeffries is reaching out at a delicate moment for Republicans. While the minority leader’s appeal to what is best for the country is an important reminder of what is at stake here, there are also political currents running under the surface of the speaker crisis. The speaker vote will force Republicans to go on the record either for or against former president Trump, a declaration most have so far been able to avoid.
There is enormous pressure from pro-Trump MAGA Republicans to stick with the former president and elect his chosen candidate, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), as House speaker. But Jordan is a very close ally of Trump’s and can be expected to demand an end to investigations into the former president in exchange for doing even the most basic business—Trump, after all, demanded a government shutdown until the cases against him were abandoned. Throwing the speakership to him will mean facing the 2024 election with a fully committed Trump party and government dysfunction as the Republicans’ main argument for why voters should back them.
That might play well in the gerrymandered districts of the extremists, but there are 18 Republicans who won election in districts President Biden won in 2020, and they will not want to run on a ticket dominated by Trump and Jordan. But a vote for the other declared candidate, Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), means being on record against Trump and for a man who once described himself as Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke “without the baggage.”
Hakeem Jeffries: A bipartisan coalition is the way forward for the House

5 October
Michelle Goldberg: If Moderate Republicans Were Brave, They Could Save the House
(NYT opinion) However the race shakes out, we can be fairly sure that the House will be a mess for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to see how, amid all this turmoil, the chamber passes more Ukraine aid, a red line for some on the right, or keeps the government open when the funding bill that led to McCarthy’s overthrow runs out shortly before Thanksgiving. That is, unless a handful of so-called moderate Republicans decide to show a bit of statesmanship and team up with Democrats to elect a unity candidate.
I understand that this sounds like an absurd fantasy, and I certainly don’t expect it to happen. But it is no more a fantasy, surely, than the idea that Democrats would rescue McCarthy’s speakership in exchange for exactly nothing. As Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman reported shortly before the speaker was voted out, “McCarthy’s allies say they will not negotiate with Democrats. Even as some House Dems privately say they want to help the California Republican.”
Trump Endorses Jim Jordan in Race for House Speaker
Representatives Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise sought support from members of the fractured Republican Party, and then former President Donald J. Trump weighed in.

3-4 October
Scalise, Jordan running to replace McCarthy as House speaker
(WaPo) In the wake of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s unprecedented ouster as speaker, House Republicans are in uncharted territory Wednesday as they search for a replacement for their colleague from California.
Besides selecting a new leader, House Republicans must also find consensus for funding the government by mid-November or again risk a shutdown.
McCarthy’s gone. Republican dysfunction is here to stay.
Dana Milbank
Tuesday’s events are much larger than McCarthy, for they made it clear, if there had been any doubt, that the Republican Party has lost the ability to govern.
…a predesignated speaker pro tempore took temporary control of the house. “It would be prudent to first recess,” he told the body, so that leaderless lawmakers could “meet and discuss the path forward.” The House won’t return for an entire week.
Republicans are sick of Matt Gaetz, and they’re not quiet about it
By the time Gaetz (R-Fla.) finally made good on his long-standing threats to force a vote to topple McCarthy (R-Calif.), his Republican colleagues were so fed up with him that they wouldn’t let him debate from within their caucus, banishing him to the minority Democratic side of the room.
Matt Gaetz, a Polarizing Figure in Congress, Is Polarizing at Home, Too
In an overwhelmingly Republican district, Mr. Gaetz is admired for shaking up the House, but he also has plenty of critics.

Kevin McCarthy ousted from House speakership after Republican rebellion

For the first time in U.S. history, a speaker of the House has been fired.
Republican Kevin McCarthy’s deal with hardline House conservatives that handed him the speaker’s gavel in January unraveled on Tuesday as those same right-wing rebels, joined by Democrats, shoved him out of the seat.
McCarthy’s 269-day reign as speaker was ended by a 216-210 vote, a move that has no marker in modern history and paralyzes Congress for the time being.

27 September
Republicans face growing urgency to stop Trump as they enter the second presidential debate
(AP) The debate comes at a critical moment in the GOP campaign, with less than four months before the Iowa caucuses formally launch the presidential nomination process. For now, Trump is dominating the field even as he faces a range of vulnerabilities, including four criminal indictments that raise the prospect of decades in prison. His rivals are running out of time to dent his lead, which is building a sense of urgency among some to more directly take on the former president before an audience of millions.
Seven candidates will hit the GOP debate stage as Trump skips the party again
(NPR) Trump is expected to travel to Michigan on Wednesday where he will speak at an auto parts manufacturing plant. …
Seven candidates have qualified to take part in Wednesday’s debate: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

23 September
Can Katie Britt Be the Face of the GOP’s Post-Trump Future?
The Alabama senator disdains the politics of hate, rarely mentions her party’s frontrunner and favors robust aid to Ukraine. That positions her well to lead a party digging out from Trumpism.
(Politico) Tommy Tuberville has received months of attention this year for his blockade of military promotions, but the more consequential GOP Alabama senator is his newly elected counterpart, Katie Britt.
In fact, there may be no better Republican barometer than Britt.
Hailing from the legume-heavy Wiregrass region of southeast Alabama, Britt became “Little Miss Peanut” at seven, was elected student body president at ’Bama, rose to chief of staff for her predecessor, Richard C. Shelby, and then ran the state’s powerful business lobby before, at 40, becoming the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate.
Now, at 41, she’s become not only well-liked by colleagues in both parties but, more remarkably, a sought-after inside player in a way that’s unusual for a non-celebrity senator during their first months in office. It’s easy to see why Britt is so appealing, particularly to the chamber’s institutionalists: She’s engaging, respectful of her elders, well-versed on substance and more focused on her state than garnering hits on Fox prime time

17 September
Jennifer Rubin: Mitt Romney and me
Romney’s announcement Wednesday that he will not seek a second Senate term and the release of excerpts from a blockbuster biography have prompted me, like many Americans, to reflect on his political journey.
In trying to come to terms with his career, I am reminded that perfect candidates (and people) don’t exist. All politicians are self-interested, but only some rise to the occasion when decency, courage, honesty and independence are required. Nevertheless, history will remember him (unlike the legion of spineless careerists) and treat him well. Romney demonstrated uncommon patriotism, integrity and valor at critical times. He honorably represented his constituents. He shamed other Republicans by his example.
Mitt Romney says he will not seek a second term in the Senate
In a Post interview, Romney is critical of both Trump and Biden, and says most Republicans are drawn to a ‘populist demagogue message.’ His decision not to seek reelection is likely to be the end of the 2012 GOP presidential nominee’s political career.
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the only member of his party to twice vote to convict former president Donald Trump in politically charged impeachment trials, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term in the Senate representing Utah, saying in an interview that it is time for a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in.”

15 September
Red states quit nation’s oldest library group amid culture war over books
They are turning down money and training from a 150-year-old organization they believe is set on promulgating explicit texts to children
The American Library Association is facing a partisan firefight unlike anything in its almost 150-year history. The once-uncontroversial organization, which says it is the world’s largest and oldest library association and which provides funding, training and tools to most of the country’s 123,000 libraries, has become entangled in the education culture wars — the raging debates over what and how to teach about race, sex and gender — culminating in Tuesday’s Senatorial name-check.

14 September
Impeaching Biden is a desperate Republican gamble that will backfire
Lloyd Green, an attorney in New York, served in the US Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992
The president isn’t exactly popular right now. But this attempt to humiliate him will scar everyone – including Republicans
Already in a footrace for re-election, Joe Biden now faces an unwelcome impeachment inquiry. Against the backdrop of a likely government shutdown, the US again stands to be buffeted by our deep and wide partisan divide. Practically speaking, however, he will survive. Conviction by the Senate is a mathematical impossibility.
Democrats are in control and Senate Republicans are nowhere near being onboard. “It’s a waste of time,” as one anonymous Republican senator told the Hill. “It’s a fool’s errand.” Said differently, impeachment will scar all concerned – Republicans included.
Already, Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House, appears desperate and craven.
The Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden is laughably cynical
Moira Donegan
This is a cudgel to try to create the false impression that Biden’s misdeeds, if any, are equal to Donald Trump’s

 


27 August
2024 Republicans want to eliminate the Education Department. What would that look like?
(The Hill) Multiple Republican presidential candidates made it clear at this week’s debate that the Department of Education is in danger if they are elected.
“Let’s shut down the head of the snake, the Department of Education,” Vivek Ramaswamy said. “Take that $80 billion, put it in the hands of parents across this country.”
24 August
Who won, who lost and who fizzled in the first Republican debate
Ron DeSantis was a non-factor as Republicans piled on Vivek Ramaswamy, instead.
(Politico) Largely ignored for two hours by his lower-polling rivals on Wednesday, the Florida governor watched as the first debate of the GOP primary turned into a pile on Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur rising in polls.
Mike Pence tangled with Ramaswamy. So did Nikki Haley and Chris Christie. DeSantis, still polling second to former President Donald Trump — but with his campaign floundering — was all but reduced to an afterthought, while Pence, Haley and Christie dominated the stage.
How to watch the first GOP presidential debate on Wednesday night
(NPR) The first presidential debate will air on Fox News and the Fox Business Network.The two-hour forum begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
Eight of the 14 candidates for the GOP nomination for president will take the stage.

21 August
8 Candidates Are Announced for First G.O.P. Debate, Trump Not Among Them
(NYT) Eight Republican presidential hopefuls will spar on Wednesday night in Milwaukee, without the party’s dominant front-runner.
Those eight include Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has been Mr. Trump’s leading rival in most polling, and Mr. Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence. Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Trump ally turned antagonist, has secured a spot, as has another vocal Trump opponent, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.
Two prominent South Carolina Republicans have also earned places onstage, Senator Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador. They will be joined by the political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota.

Ian Bremmer: Trump’s new rival, Vivek Ramaswamy
There’s been a surge in the GOP among the candidates. We’ve had Trump way out in front, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the major challenger pretty much for the last several months until this last week, with an outsider Vivek Ramaswamy in a couple of polls showing up as number two.
… Vivek is 38 years old. He’s an entrepreneur, young kid. You know, he’s an outsider. He [has] never been a candidate. Heck, he’s barely voted most of the presidential elections. …
He’s aligned with Trump. He’s aligned with Tucker Carlson, that’s the lane here. …anti-woke but more effective in his rhetoric on that front than DeSantis has been. Talking about the global reset versus the great uprising. In other words, anti world economic forum, anti-woke, anti global control, anti deep state…anything that feels like the forces that you don’t understand that are in control of you, Vivek is opposed to them.

15 August
How Trump wrecked the Georgia GOP
(Politico Nightly) Many of the 19 defendants charged in the new Trump indictment are by now familiar names because of their relentless efforts to push phony vote fraud claims or get the 2020 election results overturned in Georgia and elsewhere.
But there are a handful who aren’t well known outside the state, and together they reveal another side of the Georgia story — how Donald Trump wrecked one of the most successful state parties in the nation in just a few short years.
On the surface, not much has changed: Republicans still control state government. But Cobb and Gwinnett counties, once the Atlanta area’s fast-growing, reliably Republican suburban giants, have bolted the GOP camp. Joe Biden won the state in 2020, marking just the second time in 28 years that Georgia voted Democratic for president. And Republicans lost both U.S. Senate seats — in elections where Trump can be said to be the proximate cause of defeat.
It’s Not Just Trump -The former president’s dangerous minions in Georgia

11-14 August
The GOP Primary Is a Field of Broken Dreams
Donald Trump stole the show at the Iowa State Fair. The other Republican candidates looked like also-rans.
By Elaine Godfrey
(The Atlantic) One of the few rules of American politics to have withstood the weirdness of these past tumultuous years is that anyone who wants to be president of the United States must endure both the many splendors and the equally many ritual humiliations of the Iowa State Fair. It is an essential audition, at least for the GOP. (The Democratic Party has recently shuffled the order of its primary season, demoting the Iowa caucus from its first-in-the-nation status.)
GOP candidates try to win over voters at the Iowa State Fair
Butter cows, corn dogs and politics. These are just a few of the things top of mind for Iowans as they kick off the country’s third largest fair this weekend. In attendance, nearly every major GOP presidential hopeful vying for the hearts and minds of the Hawkeyes ahead of the January caucus. Lisa Desjardins has been catching up with the candidates and voters.

8-9 August
Abortion rights activists set their sights on Arizona after Ohio win
A top progressive group wants to build on the huge success Democrats are having with abortion-related ballot initiatives — this time in Arizona.
Fresh off their 14-point victory in Ohio on Tuesday, progressive groups are eyeing the Southwest battleground state as the next place to ensure abortion rights after the fall of Roe v. Wade. Arizona currently bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion rights won big in Ohio. Here’s why it wasn’t particularly close.

21 July
Trump’s Inevitability Problem
His apparent stranglehold on the GOP race is both emboldening and hindering.
By John Hendrickson
(The Atlantic) Former Representative (and current GOP presidential contender) Will Hurd … told the Republican masses inside the Iowa Events Center. “Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison.” The boos rained down, and, rest assured, they were mighty.
Hurd was one of 13 candidates who had trekked to Des Moines for the Iowa GOP’s cattle-call event known as the Lincoln Dinner. Prospective voters and donors gathered roughly six months ahead of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus to remind themselves of their importance, which may or may not be waning. The night was ostensibly a chance for Iowans to listen to a range of electability pitches. Former Vice President Mike Pence told the room he would reinstate a ban on transgender personnel in the U.S. military and endorsed the idea of a national abortion restriction after 15 weeks. The businessman Vivek Ramaswamy rattled off a list of government agencies he would shut down: the FBI, CDC, DOE, ATF, and IRS. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis boasted that he had refused to let his state “descend into a Faucian dystopia” during the pandemic and called for term limits in Congress. … When Trump finally took the stage, he seemed tired, bored, and annoyed with this obligation.

19 July
Sununu’s exit spells the end of a whole breed of Republican governor
Republicans like Chris Sununu once over-performed in blue and purple states. He’s leaving, and there aren’t many more left.
In June, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu announced he would not run for president in 2024. Today, he said he won’t seek reelection next year, either.
One of the nation’s most popular governors, Sununu’s decision dramatically increases the chances that Democrats can pick up the governorship. But it could also have a significant impact in the first-in-the-nation primary state’s presidential contest next year, where former President Donald Trump currently holds a comfortable lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his nearest challenger.
A leading Trump critic, Sununu has quite a bit of juice with the voters who will play an outsized role in determining the eventual GOP nominee. As a result, many in the 2024 field have already sought Sununu’s counsel. For months, he’s been meeting with candidates in his office in Concord and in booths at the state’s famed diners to offer advice on how to navigate the state.

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