Presumed Do-Nothing Congress
Robert A. Levine 1-10-23
The control of the House of Representatives into Republican hands and the chaotic and traumatic election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House is predictive of government gridlock and dysfunction. McCarthy squandered much of the power of the Speaker’s position in order to get elected and it is hard to imagine how he will be able to govern with any degree of efficiency. The Republican House candidates ran for office without a definitive platform, except to investigate Democratic officials and the programs that Democrats have initiated. Also a desire to cut government spending, even if it affects social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
McCarthy has allotted chairmanships of important committees to MAGA Congressmen like Jim Jordan, who have already indicated that their man objective is going to be to investigate Democrats. A number of elected Republicans continue to be election deniers and want to re-litigate the 2020 election which they claim that Trump actually won. This is a formula for a government that is non-functional and will not be able to accomplish anything positive for the American public.
The major problem is that McCarthy does not have a working majority in the House to get things done. At least twenty of the GOP members of the House who ultimately voted for him as Speaker demanded and received special concessions and will be able to block any bipartisan legislation or spending bills. A single Congress person can also call for a vote of confidence at any time for the Speaker’s position, diluting much of McCarthy’s power. To keep these votes of confidence at a minimum, he may have to negotiate frequently with individual Congress persons, forcing him to make further concessions.
In order to govern effectively, McCarthy and House GOP members have to come up with specific programs that they wish to pass to move America forward. Changing House rules and investigating government activities is insufficient to positively impact the nation. Unfortunately, many of those recalcitrant Republicans come from deep red districts whose voters don’t care how their representatives conduct themselves in Washington. Some constituents just demand loyalty to Donald Trump or opposition to anything the Democrats propose.
Important spending bills and extension of the nation’s debt limit come up for votes this year. If Republicans block these bills or demand extensive changes, they may damage the world and America’s economy and the nation’s standing in the world. These Republicans are not a good advertisement for a democratic style of government and play into the hands of our autocratic opponents. Unfortunately, some of these House Republicans covertly or overtly support Putin and the Russian government and would be only too happy to see an autocratic government in place in America. The idea of compromise is anathema to many of these politicians who insist that it is ‘my way or the highway’ in governing America.
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