Is McCarthy Right for Speaker Job After All?

Is McCarthy Right for Speaker Job After All?
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 3. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Dr. Munr KazmirBy Dr. Munr Kazmir and Brooke BellWednesday, 04 January 2023 01:02 PM ESTCurrent | Bio | Archive




America's newest would-be House speaker is the right person for the job. Can he get the votes?

"House Republicans' Real Choice" opined former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for Fox News on Jan. 3: "Kevin McCarthy for speaker or chaos."

House Republicans, it would seem, have chosen chaos. McCarthy fell short in his first vote for speaker today.

Then, he fell short on his second vote as well as his third and fourth vote. And on and on it goes.

Nineteen Republicans have refused to vote for the representative from California. While another vote will almost certainly take place directly, it is difficult to see how McCarthy will manage to whittle the number of dissenters down to a manageable level.

With the majority margin in Congress being so razor thin in Republicans' favor, the GOP can only afford to lose five votes and still achieve a majority.

McCarthy's detractors and dissenters are a mix of hyper-conservatives, squeaky wheels, and opportunists eager to leverage the power of slim margins to negotiate concessions while they still can.

"This idea that any five members of a narrow majority have the moral right to use their practical power in an attempt to coerce more than 200 of their colleagues is inherently destructive and unsustainable," fumed Gingrich on Fox News.

Already, McCarthy has made plenty of concessions to GOP conservatives concerned his leadership won't be up to the unique challenges presented by the current crop of Democrats in elected office.

Some of McCarthy's compromises have included measures to make it easier for House Republicans to remove him as speaker, should he fail to live up to expectations, and the creation of a new Weaponization of the Federal Government committee to investigate the excesses of the Biden administration.

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Twitter. December 6, 2022.

The would-be House speaker has also already pledged to rescind the Biden administration's requisition of 87,000 new IRS agents.

With all the COVID-19 relief money that went missing during the height of the pandemic, McCarthy might think that a better place for government bean counters to start.

Called the "biggest fraud in a generation," the U.S. lost $80 billion to COVID-19 relief fraudsters, most of it considered unrecoverable.

The Biden administration's promises that the new IRS agents wouldn't be used to bully the working class have been somewhat undermined by its efforts to require gig workers to report any transaction over $600.

"On the very first day, the first thing we're going to do is repeal the 87,000 IRS agents," McCarthy said during a press interview last week. "Another reason why the Democrats are mad at me, I think  —  government should be here to help you, not to go after you.

"Then we're going to secure our border," McCarthy promised. "You've got to secure this border, the millions of people coming across, the fentanyl that's killing our children.

"We need to work on our economy," he went on. "That means making us energy-independent. We need to hold this government accountable.

"Where's the origin of COVID began? Find out what this Biden family had done in the process. Make sure the FBI is not going after Americans but actually going after crime. We've got so much work behind us, and we need to start on the very first day."

One concession holdouts want that McCarthy is unlikely to give is plumb committee assignments. As it stands, most members have to campaign  —  against and for each other  —  to get enough votes to be added to an important committee.

It's democracy at its finest in many ways. Congressmen and women are a discerning bunch, tough to convince. Convincing a majority of these tough nuts to vote for committee appointments is what makes this democracy, and meritocracy, thrive.

Allowing Republicans who can't even convince their colleagues to vote for them to take over important committees is out of the question, with good reason.

This session of Congress opened with prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Let us all hope that faith, hope, and democracy prevail.