House Republicans embarrass McCarthy again
The speaker was forced to pull another procedural vote for a funding bill after it became clear his conservative bloc would tank it on the floor.
FIRST THINGS FIRST • Same chaos, different day ➟ House Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY (R-Calif.) on Wednesday suffered another embarrassment at the hands of the far-right wing of his conference when he was forced to cancel a procedural vote that would have opened floor debate and amendment votes on a defense funding bill ahead of final passage this week.
It’s the latest example of a Republican majority unable to fulfill its most basic governing duties. And it serves as a major setback for the House as Congress works to avoid a government shutdown in 16 days.
Remember: House Republicans sent members home for the August recess a day early in July because they failed to lock down the votes to pass the appropriations bill that funds the Agriculture Department and FDA. The House has passed one of its 12 funding bills, a measure to fund military construction and veterans’ programs.
“House Republicans are focused on extreme bills that have no chance of becoming law,” Rep. ROSA DeLAURO (D-Conn.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “We are now in a situation where House Republicans have pulled more bills from the floor than they have been able to pass.”
House in disorder: The chaos is also a casualty of McCarthy reneging on his budget agreement with President JOE BIDEN in late May, which set the topline numbers for the 12 appropriations bills in an effort to prevent the circumstances we find ourselves in.
But the story of this Congress is that House conservatives overplay their hand in every legislative debate. They issue demanding public statements, hold fiery press conferences, sit for combative interviews, and spin Republican leadership in circles only to withhold their support from bills on principle. The behavior is reinforced by former President DONALD TRUMP and the constituents in their gerrymandered districts. And congressional Democrats and Senate Republicans ultimately clean up the mess with moments to spare before calamity ensues.
What’s next: There’s no word on if and when House Republican leadership will try again on the defense bill. The Rules Committee on Wednesday dropped the legislation from the rule it passed the day before so the House can consider a bill to deregulate a Biden administration ban on specific types of automobile engines later today. The House was scheduled to take up the Homeland Security appropriations bill next week. But who knows what’s what after this latest debacle?
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IMPEACHMENT UPDATE ➟ McCarthy and his allies on Wednesday also faced intense scrutiny from reporters on his decision to open an impeachment inquiry against President Biden without a floor vote—just days after he told a conservative news site he would do so.
McCarthy argued he simply followed the precedent set by former Speaker NANCY PELOSI during the first Trump impeachment in 2019. (The House did not hold a vote to launch the first Trump inquiry until Oct. 31 of that year. Pelosi announced the formal inquiry more than a month earlier on Sept. 24.)
“No, it’s completely not true,” Pelosi said. “We had a few weeks where we had to make our case and I assigned six committee chairs to get the information and the rest and that then prepared us to bring the bill to the floor. They’ve had, what, nine months of collecting information, they have nothing.”
Sources tell Supercreator News that McCarthy’s decision was also an attempt to shield his most vulnerable members, including 18 House Republicans in districts President Biden won in 2020, from a tough vote on a divisive issue.
But I’m told that Democrats view this as an ineffective strategy because now these frontline members will likely have to vote to impeach the president instead of simply voting to open the inquiry—the former of which could be harder to defend than the latter of House Republicans are unable to prove any criminal wrongdoing by Biden as they’ve yet to do so up to now.
House Democrats believe one of the best ways to defend President Biden is to promote his legislative record.
“[House Republicans’] objectives for the month have been very clear: Shutdown the government, impeach Joe Biden, and maybe get rid of their own speaker,” PETE AGUILAR, the number-three House Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday. “That seems to be all the oxygen in the room around those three topics. Nothing to do with lowering costs for the American people, providing relief, creating jobs—and that’s what we’re focused on talking about.”
President Biden made his first comments on impeachment since the inquiry was announced at a campaign fundraiser in Virginia last night.
“Everybody always asked about impeachment,” Biden said. “I get up every day, not a joke, not focused on impeachment. I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to deal with the issues that affect the American people every single solitary day.”
BIDENOMICS VS. MAGANOMICS ➟ The president will look to demonstrate that focus in Maryland during a major speech on the economy where he’ll contrast his “Bidenomics” economic vision against the Republican Party’s, which he’ll label as MAGAnomics.
Ahead of the speech, the White House will send a memo from Senior Advisor ANITA DUNN to congressional Democrats that outlines what’s at stake in the budget debates this fall.
“Congressional Republicans’ MAGAnomics Budget would slash taxes for the wealthy and big corporations; cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and raise costs for hardworking families,” a White House official added. “The American people overwhelmingly reject MAGAnomics—from trickle-down tax cuts to cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and strongly support Bidenomics, which invests in America and lowers costs.”
The speech comes a day after the August inflation report showed a sharp increase in gas prices, despite sustained moderation of core inflation—the change in prices of non-food and -energy goods and services.
Rep. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-Pa.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, blamed congressional Republicans for prioritizing Big Oil profits over the clean energy alternatives that Democrats say will provide relief.
“Instead of taking action to relieve the American people's pain at the pump and lower the cost of living, extreme MAGA Republicans are hard at work forcing devastating, draconian budget cuts through Congress,” Boyle said. “Their broadly unpopular economic agenda is pushing us towards another costly, Republican-led government shutdown—one that can be easily averted by honoring the bipartisan budget agreement they negotiated only months ago.”
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TODAY ON CAPITOL HILL
➟ The House will meet at 10 a.m. with first votes expected at 1:30 p.m. and last votes at 3 p.m. on a bill that would amend the Clean Air Act and block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing waivers for regulations that ban the sale or use of new motor vehicles with internal combustion engines.
➟ The Senate will meet at 10 a.m. with a procedural vote on the first package of three appropriations bills to fund the government.
TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE
➟ President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 10 a.m. before traveling to Largo, Maryland to speak about Bidenomics at 2:15 p.m.. Once back at the White House, the president will speak on a call with rabbis around the country to commemorate the Jewish High Holidays at 6:15 p.m.
➟ Vice President Harris will travel to Hampton, Virginia at 10:15 a.m. to kick off her national college tour at Hampton University in a moderated conversation with actor TERRENCE J at 2:30 p.m. The vice president will then travel to New York City, arriving at 3:55 p.m. for an undisclosed event before getting back to Washington at 8:55 p.m.
➟ First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will arrive in Atlanta at 5 p.m. and speak at a campaign fundraiser at 6 p.m.
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ONE LAST THING ➟ RIP Buzzy Peltola
The Capitol Hill community received tragic news yesterday when we learned EUGENE “BUZZY” PELTOLA, husband to Rep. MARY PELTOLA (D-Alaska), passed away Wednesday morning following a plane accident in Alaska.
Rep. Peltola won a special election last August to succeed the late Rep. DON YOUNG (R-Alaska), who died in March 2022. She won a full term last November and is the only Democrat in Alaska’s congressional delegation.
“Family was most important to him,” ANTON McPARLAND, Peltola’s chief of staff, said in a statement. “He was completely devoted to his parents, kids, siblings, extended family, and friends—and he simply adored Mary. We are heartbroken for the family’s loss.”
House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.) said the entire House Democratic Caucus is mourning the loss of Buzzy and lifting Rep. Peltola and her family up in prayer.
“We will be there for her in any way she needs during this unimaginable time of tragedy.”
President Biden spoke to Rep. Peltola and he expressed his deepest condolences, according to the White House. In a statement, Biden remembered Buzzy as a devoted public servant whose memory will one day bring a smile to Peltola’s lips before it brings a tear to her eye.
“He is being remembered as a friend to all,” Biden said. “But we know he was, first and always, the adored and devoted husband and father to a family now in pain.”
Rep. Peltola returned to Alaska to be with their family. McParland said the staff will continue to meet with constituents and carry on the work of her office while she and her family grieve. The Congresswoman and her family are in my thoughts and prayers.
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