More incompetence from the Republicans

As Casey Stengel once remarked about the 1962 Mets: "Can't anyone here play this game?"

Part of the game in Congress requires recognizing defeat before one takes the field -- especially on high-profile votes. A good maxim for leadership would be: When it doubt, sit it out. And yet House Republican leadership took not just one but two votes last night on high-profile issues ... and managed to embarrass themselves twice in the space of less than an hour.

Axios marvels at the incompetence:

Why it matters: Even in an era of ousted speakers and wild, daily internal disarray, Tuesday night's back-to-back defeats for House Republicans were epic.

Speaker Mike Johnson lost by one vote — a Republican vote! — the first impeachment of a Cabinet official in 148 years.

Then the House rejected the GOP's heavily hyped package of aid for Israel.

Zoom in: House Republicans were fuming and embarrassed after the twin defeats on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and military aid for Israel — a bill that was a GOP chess move against President Biden.

We were all marveling at the incompetence last night as it unfolded for all to see. Johnson's caucus did less marveling and more venting in the aftermath. Axios quotes a handful of House Republicans fuming over the decision to bring both issues to the floor without having confirmed enough votes for passage on either.

The flop on the Mayorkas impeachment was the worst managed of the two. The effort to impeach Mayorkas has been a proxy fight for Republicans against Joe Biden and his border catastrophe, which Mayorkas has "managed" into utter disaster for national security. It's mainly performative anyway, since the Senate will never cast 67 votes to remove Mayorkas while Democrats control 51 seats in the upper chamber. Arguably, an impeachment at least puts something on the record with more bite than a "sense of the House" resolution, but it's still mainly a PR move to show angry voters that Republicans want to do something about the border.

Instead, last night's flop highlighted the disarray within the House GOP caucus that has characterized it since the beginning of the session. Even worse, it exposed Mike Johnson as a well-meaning backbencher without any real talent for strategic thinking or performative talent either. On something as radical as an impeachment of a Cabinet official, you have to get everyone firmly on board, or postpone the vote entirely. Instead, Johnson marched his caucus into derision and embarrassment.

And he did it twice, although the second flop was somewhat more understandable and on more substantive grounds. The House GOP caucus is angry with its Senate counterpart over the craptastic border/foreign-aid bill, and for good reason. Johnson and his team hoped to pre-empt the weird fusion of the two issues by passing a standalone foreign-aid bill for Israel. That was all well and good, and even had bipartisan support, but Johnson bypassed the Rules committee to bring it directly to the floor. 

Under a suspension-of-rules situation, bills need two-third majority to pass -- and that requires 287 votes. Johnson got 46 Democrats but lost 14 Republicans and came up far short, 250-180. Johnson could bring this back to the floor by going through the Rules Committee, but that is a problem too.

Republicans have a 9-4 advantage on Rules, which should make it easy for Johnson to get his way. If these three Rules members vote against the aid bill, though, that would make it 6-7 on the rule and the bill will fail. Johnson could hope that either (a) the trio's main objection was the lack of regular order and they would vote to approve a rule, or (b) Johnson could flip at least one Democrat committee member on a rule. If either of those were true, though, Johnson wouldn't have brought the bill to the floor under a suspension of rules in the first place. (All four of the Rules Dems voted against the Israel aid bill as well.)

So what's next? Johnson plans to bring the Mayorkas impeachment vote up again, thanks to parliamentary maneuvering last night that will allow it. Steve Scalise missed the vote but returns today, and Johnson thinks he can squeeze it through on a second try. But that's now an anti-climax, even if he succeeds; the second vote will not erase the embarrassment of the first and Johnson's decision to take it to the floor without having confirmed the votes. And if Johnson tries it again and fails, well ...

... who wants to be the next House Speaker? Anyone? Anyone?

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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