William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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BREAK OUT THE TEDDY BEARS:  The House has adjourned until noon tomorrow.  The body has had eleven roll call votes for speaker, and no speaker has emerged.  Many "closed door" meetings have been held, and are being held tonight.  The McCarthy people hope for an agreement this evening that the holdouts will accept, and that they will then vote for McCarthy on the 12th ballot tomorrow.  Why do I think this may drag into next week? 

The embarrassment for Republicans is great.  Although serious splits in the party are nothing new, not being able to choose a speaker, when you've just won a majority in the House, is no great ornament.  The 2024 presidential and congressional sweeps have essentially begun.  The Republican Party must present a solid, reasonably united front if it is to avoid last year's below-expected performance and help produce a Republican presidency.

Please note the contrast between the kiddie show in Washington and the smooth, triumphant inauguration, a few days ago, of Ron DeSantis for his second term as governor of Florida.  The DeSantis mood was one of victory and optimism.  His speech was presidential.  He had the style of a major leader.  There was a touch of the Reagan sunshine.  Morning in America again.  We have talent, amjor talent, for 2024.

A word about Donald Trump.  He endorsed Kevin McCarthy for speaker, but his endorsement fell flat.  An ally put his name in nomination for the speaker post – the speaker doesn't have to be a member of the House – and he got one vote.  Polls show Mr. Trump weakening, and he is facing legal problems.  I try not to make predictions at Urgent Agenda, but I think it's clear that the former president is running into headwinds, and that other Republicans are no longer afraid to challenge him.  The nation is looking to the future.  I don't think Donald Trump wants to leave public life having failed to win his party's nomination for a new term.     

 

UPDATE AT 6:45 P.M. ET:  Well, I assume you've been following at least the results in the House speaker sweepstakes.  Just to fill you in, the boys have now gone through ten roll calls, with almost no change.  Kevin McCarthy is stuck at 200 votes, needing 218 to become speaker.  No one is budging.  We're told that talks are underway, with the hope of reaching some agreement that will bring the matter to a close tonight, with a McCarthy victory.  Of course, we've been told that before.  And the word "agreement" essentially means more concessions by McCarthy, to the point where he, as speaker, will be little more than a figurehead.   Under the rules, the roll calls must go on until adjournment, and adjournment itself may be difficult to achieve.  Your tax dollars at work.  

ANOTHER UPDATE:  The eighth vote for House speaker is complete, with no change.  McCarthy has not gained at all.  Everything is in limbo.  There is speculation all over the place as to where this goes, but still no news.  Republicans lack a true national leader who can break the necessary heads and bring the party together.  Trump has tried, but is being ignored.  The governors who may want to run for president won't touch this.  We need Jimmy Stewart.

 

UPDATE AT 2:35 P.M. ET:  A seventh vote has been held, with virtually no change from the results of the sixth.  The House is now on the eighth vote, and it's apparent that the GOP dissenters are digging in.  No one really has any solutions, but I can't see how Kevin McCarthy can go on without making any numerical progress.  But if he withdraws, then what?  Will the rebels accept someone else, or keep stonewalling?  There is now even talk of a deal with the Democrats.  It's gotten that far.

 

It's 11:50 here in the East, and we're awaiting the start of a new day in the House of Representatives, which is trying to elect a speaker.  There have been six ballots so far, with no decision.  The leading Republican candidate, Kevin McCarthy of California, is about 20 votes short of victory, but resistance to him among his GOP colleagues is strong, and may even be growing.  Universally loved he is not.

Congress can do nothing until a speaker is selected.  Thems are the rules.

It is being reported that McCarthy has been in negotiations overnight, and has made significant concessions to the holdouts.  The general feeling seems to be that if these concessions produce additional votes for him on the seventh ballot, he'd have the momentum to stay in.  If they don't, expect a growing number of Republicans, according to reports, to urge him to step aside.

Stand by.

January 5, 2023