House Democrats warn the dramatic speaker’s fight is the first of many chaotic moments ahead
“This is what happens when the Republicans are in charge,” Ohio congresswoman Shontel Brown told Supercreator in an interview.
Kevin McCarthy, as you know by now, finally achieved his lifelong ambition of serving as House Speaker. The victory happened early Saturday morning after a few hours of floor drama that saw the California Republican lose a 14th ballot and one of his allies move to adjourn for the weekend only for his archnemesis to rally the support McCarthy needed to climb over the hump.
It came at a high cost though: At any time, a single member can make a “motion to vacate,” which would require an immediate vote to remove McCarthy as the speaker — an accommodation critics say weakens him as a leader at the outset of the new Congress. And the haggling among Republicans has also delayed the House from voting on a rules package about how it will govern, setting a legislative calendar and making committee assignments.
But several House Democrats told Supercreator that the past week is more than just a bug. Instead, it’s a feature of a House Republican Conference stocked with a small faction of hardline conservatives who have been empowered to grind the federal government to a halt if their demands to slash the social safety net, settle political scores against the Biden administration and intensify attacks on marginalized communities go unmet.
“This is what happens when the Republicans are in charge,” Rep. Shontel Brown of Ohio said to Supercreator on her way out of the House chamber minutes after the sixth failed vote to elect a speaker. “The Democrats are ready to work and are unified.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said that the Republican infighting offered a look into the future for the next two years.
“So we are going to be hard to work mitigating harm and making the affirmative case for Democrats so that we can get that gavel back in two years and be well positioned for 2024.”
Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri added that the slow start to the new Congress was difficult to endure because its prevented members from effectively governing.
“Our job is to legislate and our job is to represent. And we’re not doing any of that,” she said. “It’s disturbing to the people because they don’t care about this. They want to know that I have a congressman that the Constitution says I have and I should be able to reach out to that person.”
Bush told Supercreator that while some members were waiting to be sworn into office, their offices were turned away from federal agencies when they tried to connect constituents to resources or information.
“People need help now. That’s why we have offices, that’s why our phones ring. That’s why we have emails so people can have access to us as well. We have a door for them to come in and so this has stopped people from being able to be served,” Bush said. “This is not even just about this moment. It’s about is this going to be what we’re going to face every time?”