With all the chaos that erupted on Capitol Hill this past week, we failed to update you on Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) privileged resolution to disband the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Spoiler alert: that failed a procedural vote on October 7.
Slaughter is the ranking member of the House Rules committee and initially put forward an amendment on October 6 to dissolve the committee, whose credibility has been undermined thanks to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) recent comments that its existence is hurting Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. That also failed by a party-line vote.
Rep. Louise Slaughter's (D-NY) resolution to disband the Benghazi Committee fails in procedural vote 240-183. (@JaredHalpern)— FOX News Radio (@foxnewsradio) October 7, 2015
Shortly thereafter, McCarthy withdrew from the Speaker’s race, as he undermined his potential legitimacy as Speaker, the committee’s credibility, and the fact that things were looking tight on those first ballot projections. The House Freedom Caucus– a 40-member block of Tea Party House Republicans - had pledged to vote as a block if 80 percent of them agreed on a candidate. Kevin McCarthy was not their guy; Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) took that honor. According to Politico, they wanted Republican National Committee cash, “a bigger say” regarding selecting committee chairmen, more involvement in the decision-making, and a commitment that their members would get sweet spots on top committees. That wasn’t going to happen. And now, conservatives have to deal with Boehner remaining as Speaker of the House, with a diminished capacity regarding leverage on negotiations since he no longer has anything to lose, according to AP.
As Guy noted, quite depressingly, chaos erupted upon McCarthy’s withdrawal–and there really isn’t any incentive to take the top leadership spot in the House. Dealing with the hard right, while also catering to the needs and concerns of Republicans in moderate, swing districts is already difficult. And it makes things more unpleasant–optics-wise-to rely on the Democrats for votes on key bills. On the other hand, this isn’t supposed to be an easy job–and Tea Party Republicans in deep-red districts shouldn’t have to moderate their views, but at least have some understanding as to why some things can’t get done, especially for members, like Rep. John Katko of New York, who represents a district that went for Obama by double-digits. Does anyone here think he would toe the Tea Party line only to lose his seat?
I know some districts we won are flukes, and will probably go back to the Democrats in due time. But they’re having recruitment problems for the dozens of races in competitive districts that the GOP in the last two midterms. We didn't need to incentivize state-level Democrats (what’s left of them) to leave their current, and comfortable local posts, and gamble on a congressional race. At the time, a lot of them see no reason to join a minority caucus in Washington. Until the speakership chaos, Republicans looked pretty solid for the 2016 elections. We'll have to revisit this.
And no, I'm not saying that McCarthy would have been a good speaker. I'll have something on that a little later for all of you to debate on the comment thread soon.