K-Mac is Really Bad At His Job, part ∞

K-Mac’s Political Machine Hard At Work

It’s a slow news day, so we’re down to idle speculation, which of course means we turn to DC Gossip Rag, Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) breathless hall monitors:

McCARTHY’S MUDDLE — Five days out from the high-stakes speakership vote, House Republicans are starting to ask themselves two “what-if” questions surrounding KEVIN McCARTHY’s fate: 1) If the California Republican gets the gavel, how long will he be speaker? And, if he doesn’t, 2) how does he serve out his remaining days in Congress?

— On the first question: There’s a consensus among many House Republicans, one that few would dare utter publicly, that if McCarthy starts the 118th Congress as speaker, he’s not likely to end it that way.

We say: bring out the Tuss head of cabbage and some googly eyes.

If he’s able to lock down the 218 votes he needs to be speaker, the thinking goes, he likely will have given away the store to conservatives — including the “Never Kevin” crowd’s demand to make it easier to call a vote to oust the speaker. Many Republicans are already predicting the Freedom Caucus will use that tool, known as the “motion to vacate,” against McCarthy as soon as he strays from a conservative hard line.

And suddenly, the Kobayashi Maru sends an emergency distress signal:

The question on everyone’s mind is: When? The year-end spending deal struck between Democrats and Senate Republicans clearly bought McCarthy time. Instead of having to negotiate a politically precarious funding agreement with Democrats in his first months as speaker, McCarthy won’t have to go there until September at the earliest.

But even McCarthy allies tell us the real looming threat is the debt ceiling deadline. At some point next year — likely in the third quarter,according to the Bipartisan Policy Center — McCarthy will have to figure out a way to raise the federal debt limit or risk a national default, a move that will tear the GOP conference in two. Democrats are already signaling they won’t negotiate at all, let alone offer the draconian spending concessions the right flank is demanding.

“You’ve got guys who came in saying they will never raise the debt ceiling. … We’re then going to be forced to go to the Democrats and give Dems concessions to vote for it — and it’s going to be very costly politically,” predicted one senior GOP lawmaker close with McCarthy. “Then they’ll turn around and do a motion to vacate to get rid of Kevin saying, ‘He cut deals with the Democrats!’”

Imagine anyone thinking K-Mac could win the No-Win scenario? Well, here it is! –

The same McCarthy ally told us the leader is well aware of the peril he faces internally: “It pains me to say it, because Kevin’s worked so hard for this. He’s our most valuable player; he’s definitely our most skilled strategist,” the lawmaker said. “But if I’m seeing this, Kevin’s got to be seeing this.”

One possibility that some are eyeing as McCarthy’s get-out-of-jail-free card: a discharge petition signed by all House Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans to raise the debt ceiling. Such a move would theoretically allow rank-and-file members to bring a debt increase to the floor without McCarthy’s blessing, allowing the GOP leader to rail against any deal while centrists take the heat.

— On the second question: House Republicans are also gossiping about what McCarthy would do if he fails a second time to win election as speaker.

When he withdrew from the speaker race in 2015 amid a right-wing revolt, the GOP leader called up then-Ways and Means Chair PAUL RYAN (R-Wis.) and told him he was going to publicly endorse him for speaker. He then worked with outgoing Speaker JOHN BOEHNER to convince the very reluctant former vice presidential nominee that he had to step in to save his party.

Would he do the same this time around? Many Republicans doubt he’d be interested in smoothing the way for another speaker.

As we’ve reported, No. 2 leader STEVE SCALISE is the most likely next in line. But McCarthy and Scalise have long had a tense relationship, dating back to when the Louisianan voiced his desire to lead the conference someday — comments McCarthy’s team took as a slight. (Scalise says he supports McCarthy for speaker and will not challenge him.)

Already some McCarthy allies are quietly grumbling that Scalise could do more to help settle the speaker race, and one senior GOP aide expressed a worry to us recently that if McCarthy falls short again, he’ll try to “sabotage” whomever emerges: “Kevin’s going to have to decide how to leave,” the person said. “Will he burn down the institution?”

There’s also speculation about whether he would stay in Congress at all. A former member with his vast network of relationships would obviously be in high demand at downtown lobbying firms and corporate boardrooms.

But we know from covering him for years: McCarthy lives for the House. He loves talking to members, asking after their families and whipping votes. Not only that, he’s been in politics since his early 20s, when he joined the staff of his hometown congressman, BILL THOMAS. Who is Kevin McCarthy without Congress?

He would have a good excuse to stay. Given the GOP’s slim majority, Republicans can hardly afford any vacancies — as the party leadership’s ongoing silence over Rep.-elect GEORGE SANTOS’ growing scandal demonstrates (more on that in a bit). So there is a real possibility that the new Congress may well get underway with an unusual spectacle: a former speaker (NANCY PELOSI) and two former majority leaders (STENY HOYER and McCarthy) roaming the aisles as back-benchers.

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8 Responses to K-Mac is Really Bad At His Job, part ∞

  1. Richard says:

    Of course they will put McCarthy, because that ‘s what they do. He is the perfect mushmouth republican to run interference for the rest of them. While we are all focused on this sad sack of a human, the real republicans are still out there doing there thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martin Pollard says:

    K-Mac doesn’t have the skills to reprogram the simulator to make it possible to rescue the Kobayashi Maru. He’s going down with the ship, and the Klingons don’t take prisoners.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. K-Mac is a Klingon orbiting Trump’s Uranus
    i think K-Mac is way more Dr. Zachary Smith than James T Kirk


  4. roket says:

    Is there a pool yet for how many Speakers the 118th Congress will end up having? After all these are the same people who do things over and over again expecting different results.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. TheOtherHank says:

    The motion to vacate seems intriguing to me. I believe there has not been a single day of this congress where all the members were available to work. With the narrow margin the Rs will have it wouldn’t take much for there to be a day where more Ds than Rs and we could have a Democratic Speaker for a few days, ram through a bunch of stuff passed by the Senate and when the Rs get their numbers back up they can have the Speaker’s gavel back again


  6. kwark says:

    “It pains me to say it, because Kevin’s worked so hard for this. He’s our most valuable player; he’s definitely our most skilled strategist,” the lawmaker said.” Wow. Kevin McCarthy is the GOP’s most skilled strategist? Seems like planning his path to the Congressional toilet is likely a challenge for him. Good, here’s hoping this is the sort of “leadership” the Republicans muster until the next election cycle.


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