One would have thought that after more than 10 years in congress, Howdy Doody Speaker Kevin McCarthy would have already learned that while the Devil makes generous loans, he collects souls for interest.
Less than a month into his doomed to be one-of-the-shortest-in-history, McCarthy is about to find out how hard it is to ride a roller coaster when the strap is broken. McCarthy was so busy making deals he completely lost track of what he was dealing. Look at it this way. On a roulette table there are 36 numbers, plus zero and double zero. The payout for hitting a single number is 35-1. If you cover every number on the table, it doesn’t matter which number comes up, you just lost $3. And in his Speakers bid, McCarthy covered all the numbers.
McCarthy is about to catch his own nuts in a wringer, and the dumb shit did it to himself. Remember when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, and Machine Gun Marjie and Gruppenfuhrer Gosar did a racist, threatening, Q-Anon Thelma and Louise off the cliff? And Peliso moved to strip them of their committee assignments? McCarthy looked like the trapped-in-the-car-scene in Cujo, flinging foam as he snapped and barked about how brutal thye retaliation would be once he got the Speaker’s gavel.
Well, now he’s getting his chance. His chance to show how ignorant he is. McCarthy is carrying through on his threat, by seeking to deny the GOP’s three favorite targets, Democrats Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar of their committee assignments. And in doing do, all he’s proving is how abysmally ignorant of the House rules and procedures he compared to Pelosi.
His footing is solid on the first two. Schiff and Swalwell both have seats on the Intelligence Committee. Minority Leader Jeffries formally submitted their names despite McCarthy’s threat to block them. Jeffries even wrote a taunting letter, literally daring McCarthy to pull the trigger.
And every indication is that McCarthy will pull the trigger, simply because he can. The reason he can is because it is officially known as the House Select Committee on Intelligence. And the Speaker has a veto power over Select committee assignments. The J6 Committee was a Select committee, which allowed Pelosi to bounce Jordan and Biggs. One more thing that stuck in McCarthy’s craw.
But Ilhan Omar is where the wicket gets sticky for McCarthy. Omar’s marquee committee assignment is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Notice anything missing there? Yeah, the word Select. That’s just a regular House committee, and the Speaker has no veto power over normal committee assignments.
Which means that in order to keep his promise, and those specific names were a part of the negotiations, McCarthy is going to have to jump through hoops to bounce Omar. To remove Omar, what McCarthy will have to do is to bring a motion to the floor to strip Omar of her assignment(s), And then he will have to call a vote, and get the requisite 218 votes to pass the motion and strip her of her assignments.
McCarthy is screwed no matter what he does. He has no choice but to proceed with the floor motion to strip Omar of her assignments, since Omar is the most universally loathed of all Democratic House members not named Pelosi by the GOP. He has no choice but to follow through.
The problem is, He. Doesn’t. Have. The. Votes. McCarthy has a minimum of 18 moderate GOP members from critical swing districts. They were elected to legislate, not play kindergarten kiddie games. They’re already pissed at McCarthy for stiffing them during his Deal-O-Rama negotiations for Speaker, and they’re uber pissed about the embarrassment of George Santos. And it only takes five of them to scuttle McCarthy’s motion. And that doesn’t even count the dozen or so GOP members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, who still hold out hope for working with Democrats to actually legislate the next two years. The numbers don’t look good.
If McCarthy tries to get the Freedom Caucus that as Meat Loaf sang, Two out of three ain’t bad, and drop the almost impossible vote on Omar, then he’s guilty of reneging on his deal. And if he goes ahead and holds the vote, and loses, especially by a significant number of votes, then as far as Sugar Daddy Matt Gaetz and the rest of the Teabaggers are concerned, McCarthy is a weak and ineffective leader, not worthy of the gavel. And it only takes one of them to call for a vote of no confidence.
Look, we all knew this would happen sooner or later. I’ve previously written that I have my doubts that McCarthy will still be holding the Speaker’s gavel by Easter. But if they’re going to push something this stupid, senseless, and divisive, I’m not sure that McCarthy will still be Speaker by President’s Day. Don’t touch that dial.