Rethinking particle politics – LOVEBYLIFE

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Republicans nominated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to become speaker of the House when the GOP seized control in January.

But it’s not clear whether McCarthy can get the vote to become speaker. McCarthy has spent the past few days making subtle promises that could help him become speaker. McCarthy demanded that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas resign or face possible impeachment during his trip to the southern border. McCarthy also promised that “next year, Republicans will begin each day of Congress with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. No exceptions.”

Republicans can adopt any rules they want as it relates to House operations when the GOP claims control in January. But the House routinely opens each session with prayers and pledges. Indeed, House Rule XIV dictates “the daily order of business…shall be as follows: First. Prayer by the Chaplain. Second. Reading and approval of the Journal, unless adjourned by Section 8 of Rule XX. Third: Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.”

Of course, Republicans could always change the rules to ensure that “journal approval” doesn’t prevent prayers and pledges. But that’s pretty minimal.

McCarthy calls on mayor to resign or face possible impeachment inquiry: ‘Enough is enough’

This makes it clear that McCarthy is doing his best to command enough votes to become Speaker. Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from the committee are promising to bounce back. Hints of impeachment to satisfy the appetite for rights at the border. Appeal to religious conservatives.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It might work. But so far, the math isn’t in McCarthy’s favor when the floor vote hits in January. Reps. Ralph Norman, R-C., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. And Bob Goode, R-Va., is less likely to support McCarthy. That could be enough votes to sink McCarthy’s bid for the gavel.

But who if not McCarthy?

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.? House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, RNY? Representative and incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn.? Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio? Representative Patrick McHenry, RNC?

It was not that McCarthy was slated to succeed former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker. And then former Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., took the job — despite an adamant assertion a few weeks ago that he didn’t want the gig.

There were times in the last 15 to 20 years that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was expected to be the next GOP leader or House Speaker. Cantor lost his primary. Former Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., was considered a possible successor to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Tex., tinkered with a leadership bid a few years ago.

Other names that have fallen by the wayside: Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla. and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

This brings us to one of my most enduring theses about Congress. Who emerges as Congress leader depends on “particle” politics. In other words, infinite, minute, sub-atomic political particles determine who will emerge as Congress leader. Seven years ago it was hard to see how McCarthy would not be Speaker. Yet he did not claim the gavel. It was hard to see how Ryan would be speaker in 2015. Yet he did it.

Right now, McCarthy is the odds-on favorite to become House Speaker on January 3 next year. But McCarthy’s votes are lacking — so far. Thus, does anyone else actually become the speaker which is still not clear?

Possible.

Ilhan Omar, Eric Swalwell turn to McCarthy, vowing to block them from House committee

It’s all because of “particle politics”.

A similar scenario occurred on the Democratic side of the aisle to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as party leader.

Replacing Pelosi is a Washington parlor game that has been played for years. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mo., and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D.C., helped Pelosi build three legs of a stool representing all branches of the House Democratic caucus. In other words, if you subtract a leg, the stool breaks. It was often thought that once Pelosi went, all three would go. That sort of thing happened with Pelosi and Hoyer stepping down from leadership roles. Clyburn remains — but with a lower-profile leadership post.

But finding out who will succeed Pelosi has been a mystery that has dragged on for a decade and a half.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
(CBS News/Screenshot)

Pelosi and Hoare have had a rivalry since they interned together in the office of the late Sen. Daniel Brewster, D-Mo., in the 1960s. Pelosi often blocked Hoyer’s leadership bids. Pelosi endorsed the late Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Penn, for majority leader in 2006. Yet Hoar prevailed. And Hoyer will never directly challenge Pelosi for the Democrats’ top leadership post. Hoyer lacked the votes and would lose. However, over the years, Republicans have privately admitted that they fear Hoare as speaker more than Pelosi. That’s because of Hoyer’s stellar reputation for working across the aisle and not representing the GOP with a liberal foil.

But that opportunity never came for Hoare. Or Clyburn, for that matter.

There was even a time years ago when some in the Democratic caucus believed that former Rep. Jane Herman, D-Calif., might pose a threat to Pelosi. The two had a frosty relationship over the years. Herman never challenged Pelosi.

Herman wasn’t even enough to overtake Pelosi, if the opportunity presented itself.

Meanwhile, speculation churned for years as Pelosi fielded a series of other Democratic lieutenants who aspired to succeed her — but never got the chance because of the speaker’s longevity.

First in line was current ambassador to Japan and former Chicago mayor, White House chief of staff and Republican Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. But after Democrats won control of the House and became Democratic Caucus Chairman in 2006, chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), former President Obama drafted Emanuel to serve as chief of staff.

Then came Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Mo. Van Hollen was in the House at the time, but eventually moved to the Senate.

The focus has been on former Rep. Steve Israel, DN.Y., for some time. Then current Health and Human Services Secretary and former Rep. Javier Becerra, D-Calif. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., was in the mix. But Crowley – like Cantor – eventually lost her primary to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DNY.

Schiff may be Pelosi’s latest potential successor. In fact, Schiff likely launched an impromptu campaign to succeed Pelosi. Several House Democrats told Fox that Schiff would not have launched such an effort without an implicit or explicit blessing from Pelosi. That’s partly because Pelosi and Schiff have always enjoyed a special relationship. This was demonstrated when Pelosi tasked Schiff with serving as lead manager during former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. Schiff chairs the Intelligence Committee. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has traditionally been the lead “prosecutor” in such impeachment proceedings. Not the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

However, Schiff ultimately lacked the votes to succeed Pelosi. And House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, DNY, concluded the deal to succeed Pelosi with praise.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff gives a TV interview at the Capitol on July 26, 2021.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff gives a TV interview at the Capitol on July 26, 2021.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

This is significant. Just two hours before Pelosi announced her retirement from the leadership, Jeffries did not respond to a question from YOU about whether she had “a plan in a drawer somewhere” to campaign for the Democrats’ top leadership post.

This is why it comes down to “particle politics”.

Even a few years ago, no one could have imagined that Jeffries would be the one to replace Pelosi — when all the focus was on Emanuel or Van Hollen.

Those who rise to leadership positions work hard. A bit of magic. A bit of luck. And really good times.

Kevin McCarthy is now going for the gavel again. Rarely does anyone get a second chance at a major leadership position like the Speaker. But that opportunity now comes under McCarthy’s command.

But McCarthy’s fate depends on subatomic, political particles, now racing around the political supercollider.

Rethinking particle politics – LOVEBYLIFE

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