Politics & Media
Oct 13, 2023, 06:28AM

Scalise Wises Up, Finds Door

But he couldn’t find the votes.

Fhik77l6lnpyvgy2n7so3hedfu.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

House Republicans have to find another dupe. Steve Scalise caught on to their fun and games and told the gang last night that he isn’t running for speaker after all. “If you look at where our conference is, there’s still work to be done,” he told reporters just after. “Our conference still has to come together, and it’s not there. There are still some people that have their own agendas.” That’s one way of putting it.

His decision punctuates exciting times for Republicans in Congress. Five holdouts can torpedo a Republican speaker, as happened to Kevin McCarthy last week, and they can torpedo a Republican would-be speaker. Before the day of Scalise’s selection was over, seven Republicans had declared against him. Latest counts in the press are up toward 20. Under party rules, all the Republican members are obligated to support Scalise. But rules, shmules.

When Scalise won the nod, he did so with about 53 percent of the Republican caucus—113 votes for him, 99 for Jim Jordan. Scalise needs 95 of the Jordan votes, but protests keep cropping up. Recess became the better part of valor on Wednesday because an unspecified number of members had begun shuffling toward McCarthy, who was no longer even a candidate. Then Lauren Boebert, Nancy Mace, and Max Miller said they’d vote for Jordan, not Scalise, when the faceoff with the Democrats finally happens. Chip Roy, Mike Cloud, and George Santos all said they definitely wouldn’t vote for Scalise. Carlos Gimenez said he’d vote for McCarthy. Scalise set to work wrangling and matters became much worse.

A few of last time’s holdouts have now slopped over to the establishment side, and some of this round’s holdouts were on the establishment’s side last time. Motives appear to be a grab-bag. Santos took his stand for painfully personal reasons (a feeling of neglect by the candidate). Mace affects to be troubled by a pair of incidents that indicate Scalise is way too comfortable with white supremacists. Ken Buck says he’ll vote present because Scalise won’t say straight out that Trump lost in 2020. Buck also voted present when it was Scalise versus Jordan, because he finds Jordan just as squishy on that topic. He appears to be the only member of the House conference, pro Scalise or con, who has that motive. What he shares with the other troublemakers is a sense that holding their party together at a critical time isn’t a top priority. Buck puts country first, the others put anything first.

On Thursday the House came into session and then quickly recessed again. The Republican representatives got together to complain and backbite. Micharl McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, escaped to warn the world. “I see a lot of threats out there,” he said, surveying the international scene. “One of the biggest threats I see is in that room.”


Register or Login to leave a comment