Republicans place incompetence on display as they fail to elect a House speaker
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives proved once again Tuesday that they are incompetent and incapable of governing, as they continued feuding and fighting with each other and failed to elect a speaker to lead the chamber.
Far-right extremist Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was endorsed in the race for speaker by former President Donald Trump, picked up the support of 200 Republicans in a vote by the full House to elect a new speaker but fell 17 votes short of the majority he needed to get the job. Twenty anti-Jordan Republicans split their votes among seven other GOP candidates.
The top vote-getter in the race for speaker was Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic minority leader and the first Black person to ever lead a party caucus in the House or Senate. Jeffries received 212 votes – 12 more than Jordan – by winning the support of every Democrat in the chamber. But Jeffries stands virtually no chance of becoming speaker because he would need to get votes from five Republicans.
Republicans are planning another vote today to try to unite behind either Jordan or another member of their party to become speaker.
Relatively moderate Republicans in swing districts fear that if Jordan becomes speaker he will cost them their seats in the 2024 elections and enable Democrats to win majority control of the House. That fear is justified because Jordan has consistently put partisanship over patriotism, confrontation over compromise, and loyalty to Trump above loyalty to his constituents and the American people.
U.S. national security and the security of our key allies remain endangered as a result of the raging Republican civil war. Until the House elects a speaker it remains paralyzed and unable to vote on any bills, including vital measures to prevent a federal government shutdown and to provide aid to our allies Israel and Ukraine as they remain under attack.
Jordan is so extreme and so loyal to Trump that he still absurdly refuses to acknowledge that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, despite more than 60 court decisions rejecting Trump’s bogus claims that the election was rigged against him by a vast conspiracy of Republican and Democratic officials in multiple states.
Jordan was one of eight House Republicans who served on Trump’s defense team during Trump’s first impeachment trial in the Senate. He is now one of the leaders of the baseless impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Former House Speaker John Boehner, Jordan’s fellow Ohio Republican, once called Jordan a “legislative terrorist.”
Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was vice chair of the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol designed to overturn Biden’s election victory, said on X (formerly Twitter): “Jim Jordan was involved in Trump’s conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that [former Vice President Mike] Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes.” She added: “If [Republicans] nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.”
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said: “A Speaker Jordan means extremism and far-right priorities will govern the House of Representatives. … Every Republican who votes for Jordan for Speaker is simply following Trump’s marching orders – it’s clear Republicans are incapable of governing themselves and instead look to the indicted former president for guidance on everything.”
Jordan was one of 147 House Republicans to vote against accepting Electoral College results from Pennsylvania and Arizona after the states awarded their electoral votes to Biden. He led a call with Trump on Jan. 2, 2021, about ways to urge Trump supporters to come to the Capitol four days later and to delay the certification of Electoral College votes, according to the Jan. 6 committee. He refused to testify before the committee even when subpoenaed.
The 59-year-old congressman was first elected to the U.S. House in 2006 and was the co-founder of the right-wing extremist House Freedom Caucus. He was a championship wrestler in college and an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University before being elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1994.
Republicans created the leadership crisis that left the House without a speaker when eight far-right members voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker because they didn’t consider him extreme enough. The eight radicals were angry that McCarthy worked with Democrats to avert a government shutdown by funding the federal government through Nov. 17.
McCarthy was the first speaker in American history forced out of the position. If the bizarre intraparty battle among Republicans that led to his demise were a TV show, it would be a combination of “Game of Thrones” (minus the dragons), “Succession” and “The Sopranos.” Or going back a few decades, “The Twilight Zone.”
House Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, who led the chamber for most of the 1940s and 1950s, said: “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.” The radical right Republicans who toppled McCarthy knew how to kick him out of office, but are unable to so far build a majority behind another candidate for speaker.
House Republicans could use more carpenters and fewer jackasses. Their appalling inability to govern is hurting America and making our country a laughingstock around the world. But there is nothing funny about their irresponsibility and dereliction of their duty to do their jobs.
Donna Brazile is a veteran political strategist, Senior Advisor at Purple Strategies, New York Times bestselling author, Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and sought-after Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning media contributor to such outlets as ABC News, USA Today and TheGrio. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. Donna was the first Black American to serve as the manager of a major-party presidential campaign, running the campaign of Vice President Al Gore in 2000. She serves as an adjunct professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Georgetown University and served as the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. She has lectured at nearly 250 colleges and universities on diversity, equity and inclusion; women in leadership; and restoring civility in American politics.
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