We may be approaching Thanksgiving, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy might as well be wearing Ebenezer Scrooge’s pajamas, as last week gave him a glimpse of the impending Congress.
On Tuesday, he called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandor Mayorkas to resign for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border lest a majority of the House of Representatives decide whether to impeach him. It’s a sign that tough Trump-style immigration rhetoric continues to dominate the GOP (and many GOP ads focus on immigration).
“He cannot and must not remain in office,” said McCarthy, surrounded by other Republican members in a zip-up jacket for the mandatory photo shoot in front of the border fence. “If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure to determine whether we can launch an impeachment inquiry.”
Of course, Mr. Mayorkas is unlikely to resign, and should an impeachment proceed, the Democrats will still control the Senate – regardless of the outcome in Georgia – and will likely acquit the secretary.
In addition, at a meeting of the Jewish Republican Coalition, he promised to expel Minnesota’s Representative Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Relations Committee for her comments about Israel. There, she may indeed have some power, as many Republicans may be willing to vote to remove her from the committee.
These remarks by Mr. McCarthy can best be understood as a way to strengthen his right-wing base. Last week, when Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to nominate him for Speaker. But only won 181 to 33, far from the majority he would need to win in the House of Representatives, and the Democrats are unlikely to buy him out.
Mr McCarthy has often spent his career as the equivalent of an assistant coach – someone everyone enjoys working with but has so far not shouldered the burden of responsibility. In the California legislature often served as an intermediary who helped negotiate deals between the Democratic majority and recalcitrant Republicans.
When he got into Congress in 2008, he used the tea party’s crazy as hell energy to recruit members in the red wave of 2010, befriending many and earnings comparisons to “your favorite frat brother.” In 2019, he noted how the newly minted majority of Democrats “looked like America” while the GOP conference “looked like the most restrictive country club in America.” He said The New York Times.
Now he’s the man who wants to be in the chair, which means he has to please people, listen to their demands and make them think he’s the best guy for the job. And it looks like there are no votes yet.
On Tuesday evening, Representative Matt Gaetz tweeted that he would support Representative Jim Jordan. Mr. Jordan, for his part, probably wouldn’t want the job as he is to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and vigorously investigate the Hunter Biden case.
It was more of a warning shot for Mr McCarthy to watch his right flank. Mr. Gaetz never particularly liked Mr. McCarthy, even putting forward the idea that he would nominate Donald Trump for Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Gaetz also took an exception when recordings of Mr. McCarthy saying he would push Mr. Trump to resign after the January 6 riots were leaked.
So did Andy Biggs of Arizona, one of the main election deniers who He said “we don’t know” who won in his home state in 2020 said he would not endorse Mr. McCarthy for spokesman. Mr. McCarthy may need to call his own old training buddy Kyrsten Sinema, who also happens to be be friends with Mr. Biggs from their days in the Arizona state legislature.
However, he has some conservative support. Right-wing representative of Marjorie Taylor Greene gave her support behind Mr. McCarthy. Outsiders wouldn’t normally consider Georgia’s extremist lawmaker to be pragmatic, but last week she said Republicans needed to unite so they wouldn’t open “the door for Democrats to recruit some of our Republicans,” warning that she wanted to make sure Republicans had majority right to a summons to court.
But McCarthy won’t have to fight just Conservatives. As newsletter friends Olivia Beavers, Jordain Carney and Sarah Ferris reported at Politico, the centrist members of his conferences have their own demands, with Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska who is perpetually in danger and has been targeted by Mr. Trump saying, “It’s time we flex our muscles.”
We’re hoping Thanksgiving dinner will be less stressful than the GOP meeting. Sign up for Inside Washington here.