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AFF Sentinel V20#45-Messy Politics

Effort to Vacate the Chair of House Speaker Hits the Floor

Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Originally sent to subscribers 10/03/23

The House voted to not table the motion to vacate the chair of the position of Speaker of the House. The vote on the motion to vacate is now happening as of this writing.


The Founding Fathers purposely made it somewhat difficult to pass legislation, to help check the power of the federal government, requiring passage by two different bodies and signing by the president.

But even they would likely marvel at how difficult current day Republicans can make it.

The infighting amongst Republicans in the House is all too typical of them. The Democrats have proven for decades that groups of small minority factions can manage to cobble the numbers together to pass legislation.

Republicans have proven liberal Republicans, moderate Republicans and  -- relatively speaking --  conservative Republicans cannot see the forest for the trees and manage to fritter away leverage and opportunities.

There is another axiom: never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Out of multiple options House leadership offered up to the conference, they picked none. Speaker Kevin McCarthy felt forced to go with a Continuing Resolution that accomplished none of the Republican goals and used Democrat votes to pass it.

There are several complicating factors that people want to see passed but cutting spending and controlling the borders have to be above anything else.

More than one political commentator has termed these events a question of personal politics over the needs of the country. There’s lots of blame to go around but from the peanut gallery, it’s hard to fault the hardliners dedicated to cutting spending, except that not having a plan that works for the country, that can get the votes, is worse. We’re more critical of those who make cutting spending a banner not to follow and label the spending hardliners radicals and obstructionists.

A motion to vacate the chair of the Speaker is now on the table in the House. McCarthy has been unable to get his obstreperous herd lined out to accomplish the key tasks. Is there anyone in the House who could? Have the Republicans had anyone since The Hammer (Tom Delay) in the Bush years who could ramrod the Republican Party? Have the Republicans ever had such a wide range of members in the House? Is that better or worse than the Senate, that has leadership not interested in those two key issues of spending and the border? The Senate has some real conservatives but way too many who fear not being liked by Democrat colleagues or the media.

The Democrats might be happy to help get rid of McCarthy but they are not going to help elect a more conservative Speaker. Spending weeks to elect a new Speaker at a critical time for the budget, numerous spending bills to get out of committee and on to the floor and a border that is flooding the country with illegals is not good.

The House has not shown they could unite around much of anything, much less a new Speaker in a short period of time.

The motion to table the motion to vacate garnered 11 Republican votes and 207 Democrat votes to total 218, enough to defeat the motion, clearing the way for the motion to vacate to proceed.  Were any of those Republican votes more about sending a message? Will they flip when it comes to the motion to vacate?   No Speaker has ever been removed. In 1910, House Speaker Cannon moved to vacate himself but won the vote.

Under House rules adopted in January, any one member can move a motion to vacate, including a Democrat member.

The reality is that in order to save his speakership, McCarthy will likely be cutting deals with Democrats. This is likely to involve numbers of Democrats on committees, bills brought to the floor and other details of process that give the Democrats more advantage.

Following are points raised in debate on the motion to vacate.

Rep. Bob Good (R-VA): there is a fundamental problem in using omnibus bills to pass appropriations bills instead of regular order out of committee. McCarthy has not lived up to that commitment made in January to getting 12 appropriations bills out of committee. The opportunity to use the debt ceiling as a tool to reduce spending was squandered. There has been balanced budget work in committee but not brought to floor.  Then McCarthy did not use a threat of government shutdown to cut spending, instead using Democrats to pass a Continuing Resolution with no cuts in spending or any border control provisions.

We will provide additional background regarding the effect of Ukraine funding on the political maneuvering in Washington in days to come.

Tom Cole (R-OK) praised McCarthy for finding ways to keep things moving, that he “did the right thing” for the country and the party. He got a standing ovation for that position.

Cole accused McCarthy opponents of willingness to plunge House into chaos. Rep. Matt Gaetz responded that debt and deficit is chaos McCarthy has not fought hard enough against, has led the House into chaos by promising too many different things to too many people. Gaetz was the member who introduced the motion to vacate.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) listed a number of bills McCarthy has brought forth. But they didn’t seem to directly involve in a major way the overarching issues of spending and the border.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). We have passed the bills needed to be passed, provided critical oversight on government and trying to stop omnibus bills before the Christmas holidays. He believes McCarthy has kept word.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) referenced the horrible situation at the border, with hundreds of thousands of illegals crossing per month. Debt and deficit is result of over 100 omnibus bills over the decades instead of passing 12 appropriations bills out of committee. Relying on Continuing Resolutions means that Congress can’t leverage anything against the administration, there no use of funding leverage to force spending cuts. Quit betting on the come and bet on the reality, Biggs said.

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR): unless you can provide a plan to help the country that can be implemented, vote for McCarthy.

Thomas Massie (R-KY), (Rules Committee member). Process has been better under McCarthy but promises have been on process, not guaranteed results.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA): vacating the chair will mean the House will be paralyzed, Democrats will revel and the public dismayed. The House will shift left. This is an historical moment and members must realize it now.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) – stand for leadership of McCarthy.

Rep. Gaetz – did refer to deals on Ukraine funding over funding for border control, which prompted murmurs in chamber.

Rep. Steve Scalise R-LA), Majority Leader: many processes have been broken for years and it takes time to reform. Progress has been made. Have two appropriations bills coming up this week and two more next week that will not advance if trying to elect a Speaker instead.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): don’t understand turning over slim majority position to more control for Democrats, who already control the Senate and the White House.

Rep. Elise Stafanik (R-NY) – McCarthy’s efforts have exceeded expectations.

Gaetz, if that is true, then we need to raise our expectations.

Most of the bills sent over to the Senate have been ignored.

No bills can advance in the House while there is no Speaker.

The House is now voting on the motion to vacate.

Contact info for House members:


Edi. Note: the pic below looked so good, we had to keep it again, (courtesy beef Check off).


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