House Republicans are limping toward their new majority in total disarray


Even some Senate Republicans are acknowledging the mess.

Republicans are set to take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3 after winning a narrow majority in the November midterm elections. But substantial divisions within their caucus are preventing them from making basic decisions about how things will operate — so much so that Republican senators are openly questioning whether they will be able to function.

After winning a 222-213 majority, the House Republican caucus voted to nominate current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be speaker in the upcoming Congress. But at least five "Never Kevin" far-right Republicans say they will not vote for him, putting him potentially short of the needed majority to win the position when the full House votes. A group of slightly less right-wing Republicans has formed an "Only Kevin" faction and is reportedly scheming to punish the anti-McCarthy voices by stripping them of committee assignments.

According to a Thursday report in Politico, the result of this disarray has been paralysis for the incoming majority, as it has been unable to move forward on deciding who will lead key House committees, hiring staff, planning hearings, or setting a legislative agenda.

"Without question, delays in selecting chairmen and committee members put a lot of pressure on the agenda," Republican Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, who is retiring at the end of the current Congress, told the outlet.

"It delays the committee process," Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said of the ongoing uncertainty about who will be speaker. "We're behind already."

It has also undermined the House GOP's bargaining position in the current debate on the federal budget for 2023.

McCarthy (R-CA) has urged Senate Republicans to block passage of a year-old omnibus spending bill in the lame duck session this month, suggesting that the party will have more influence come January.

But the chairs of the House and Senate appropriations panels and the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee have ignored this and agreed Tuesday on a framework for a year-long funding bill.

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN on Thursday that he would likely back the deal rather than wait for the House Republicans to take power, saying, "They're having enough problems trying to find a speaker — much less pass a bill."

Other Senate Republicans have also spoken out.

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer told Politico on Wednesday that he was "disgusted" with the situation. "My concern is that a new House, very small majority, new leadership, is going to have to take over, and to have to start from behind?" he said. "That concerns me. That could have negative consequences."

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker told the outlet that it would be "better not to have that major hurdle that the new speaker, Kevin McCarthy, has to negotiate … it's too much to ask."

Since the start of 2021, House Democrats have passed hundreds of piece of legislation, including landmark laws addressing climate change and health care, curbing gun violence, investing in infrastructure, and protecting interracial and same-sex marriage. They did so with a narrow majority.

Throughout that time, Republicans frequently tweeted using the hashtag "#DemsInDisarray," mocking the majority for the occasional delays as they worked to find consensus.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.