‘Legislation is the hard part’: Narrow win for Kevin McCarthy spells trouble

‘Legislation is the hard part’: Narrow win for Kevin McCarthy spells trouble

#Legislation #hard #part #Narrow #win #Kevin #McCarthy #spells #trouble Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:

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For a man who knows his political history, Kevin McCarthy will be all too aware that he earned his place in the annals for all the wrong reasons.

This week, the Majority Leader of the Republican House of Representatives became the first party leader in a century to fail to be elected Speaker on the first ballot. He cemented his place in the record books by falling short in 13 consecutive votes spread over three days – a tally last surpassed in the run-up to the American Civil War.

The opening day of Congress on Tuesday was supposed to be a holiday as lawmakers, many flanked by their families, were sworn in as members. At the end of the week, they were still there after consecutive rounds of voting failed to provide McCarthy with the gavel of speaker he had coveted for much of his political career because a group of far-right rebels seemed determined to deny him a position he was after to the vice president in the ranks of the presidency.

Though McCarthy clinched a victory in the early hours of Saturday morning, the days-long deadlock set the stage for an escalation of chaos in a Washington that had grown accustomed to dysfunction and discord in recent years.

Cheers and jeers rang out on the floor of the House of Representatives as the ballots were cast, and a scrum of reporters chased after McCarthy and his allies as they struggled to reach an agreement. C-span cameras, which are normally forbidden from filming the turning and acting on the house floor, zoomed in on tense conversations between lawmakers who were at odds over what to do.

Democrats and Republicans alike said the chaos was a harbinger of what could be years of legislative disorder.

“Choosing the speaker is the easy part. Legislating is the hard part,” said Doug Heye, former Speaker of the Republican National Committee and senior adviser to the Republican House. “Republicans, of course [had] effort to do the easy part. It should send a very clear signal that doing the difficult things is going to be very difficult.”

Many in Washington had expected the pace of legislation to slow after last November’s midterm elections ushered in a new era of divided government: Republicans underperformed but still won a razor-thin majority to take control of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber, retaking Congress while Democrats held on to the Senate, upper chamber and White House.

But the historic deadlock on the speaker’s election has raised new concerns on both sides of the aisle that a small group of rebels will block much of the “must pass” legislation later this year. At the top is the debt ceiling, the limit on how much the US government can borrow.

Economists have warned that the US government risks defaulting on its debt for the first time in American history unless lawmakers vote to raise the ceiling in the coming months. Other big battles could be over funding the government and avoiding a shutdown, or over whether to increase US military aid to Ukraine.

“Every time there’s a difficult or controversial issue that the House takes up, we’re going to see a repeat of this whole drama,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Florida. “This will further undermine the confidence of the American people in the institution.”

The Republican Party is no stranger to disputes within its ranks. Many of the same people who opposed McCarthy’s speakership also caused headaches for Paul Ryan and John Boehner, the two former Republican speakers. But many in Washington see the recent shenanigans as a sign of a new level of dysfunction in Congress, fueled in part by former President Donald Trump.

“That dynamic in House Republicans predated Trump. He has only hastened the process of deterioration and decay in the culture of the House Republican conference,” said Curbelo, who lost his bid for re-election in 2018.

Trump, who remains the only Republican to declare his candidacy for president in 2024, attempted to interfere in the speaker’s debate earlier in the week when he urged Republican lawmakers to rally around McCarthy. But those overtures fell on deaf ears, as some of his staunchest allies, including Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, publicly told the president to drop his support for the California congressman.

Heye said that while Trump has not proven to be “personally relevant” to the whip count, the protracted debate and party infighting have exposed his enduring influence on some members of the party.

“Obviously what’s happening here is very Trumpy,” Heye said. “We see Trumpism without Trump.”

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