The Long Fight for the House Speakership
Much has been made of the fact that it took 15 votes until Republican Kevin McCarthy finally secured the Speakership of the House. Powerline Blog has rounded up a series of the internet cartoons and memes about the long fight. With their salaries on the line, I never imagined the fight would continue much longer. It would appear that the extended debate may at last result in Congress more skillfully playing the role designed for it in the Constitution and a much-needed return to the regular order of business in the House.
Many emphasized that the fight represented a disastrous split in the party whose hold on the House is but a rather thin majority. Others, like the priceless Babylon Bee, noted it was a very big deal that the House members actually showed up to work for four days.
As usual, the Bee underlines a serious point. Too many of the members have not shown up in person to work, but have been phoning it in per Nancy Pelosi’s permission to do so.
But that’s not the worst thing about the Pelosi House: Increasingly the Congress has whiffed on its responsibilities to legislate -- writing broad laws and leaving it to unelected bureaucrats to fill in the important blanks. On really important legislation like ObamaCare, members never even had an opportunity to read the Bill before voting on it. The level of mendacious doings on the Hill seemed to have reached new heights.
So, unlike those who made fun of the heated debate which preceded the final McCarthy victory, I think it was healthy and overdue.
It's too early as I write this to know all the promises and concessions. Perhaps later on Sunday or Monday we will know more. I have read that one of the concessions is that members would get 72 hours advance time to read bills before the vote is taken. With bills now thousands of pages long, that’s the least that should be done. No more the Pelosi garbage about having to pass a bill into law to know what is in it.
The BBC reports, “Mr. McCarthy promised to make bill-passing more like the good old days, with members of Congress outside of the top leadership having more say over how bills are proposed, amended and passed.” No more secret negotiating at the top and shoving it down the throats of members without even an opportunity to read, let alone debate it.
It appears more conservatives will be seated on the important House Rules Committee which means per the BBC “conservatives will be able to shape the kind of legislation the House produces before it fully takes shape -- and nip undesired proposals in the bud.” McCarthy’s promised fiscal restraints (though he will have to negotiate with the opposition so despite this promise, we can’t be sanguine about the prospects for a much-reduced federal budget).
McCarthy promised to prioritize the problem of border security. For some reason he was forced to concede allowing an early vote on term limits, something rather ephemeral and meaningless in my eyes because it would require a Constitutional amendment.
The Washington Post reports that a PAC aligned with McCarthy (the Congressional Leadership fund) promised to stay out of open House primaries for safe Republican seats.
One of the most interesting of the reported concessions is the long-deserved disciplining of the sociopathic liar, Congressman Adam Schiff, detailed in Paul Sperry’s article, following the revelation that Schiff had tried to force Twitter to ban Sperry after he revealed the name of the source Schiff was relying on during one of the failed Trump impeachments.
In articles for RealClearInvestigations, I outed his anonymous “whistleblower” from the first impeachment of President Trump. It was Eric Ciaramella, a Democrat who had worked in the Trump White House as an Obama holdover. I also exposed Ciaramella’s prior relationship with one of Schiff’s top staffers on the impeachment committee, Sean Misko.
My reporting cast fresh doubts on Schiff’s claims that the 2019 impeachment process happened organically. The New York Times had already busted Schiff lying about prior contacts with the whistleblower. Initially, Schiff publicly stated his office never spoke with the whistleblower before he filed his complaint against President Trump, when in fact a Schiff staffer had huddled with him, something Schiff’s spokesman Patrick Boland was forced to admit after the Times broke the story. (The staffer was never identified.) The prior contacts led to suspicions Schiff’s office helped the whistleblower craft his complaint as part of a partisan operation.
Sperry reports, “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, now battling for the speakership, has vowed to block Schiff from serving as the intelligence panel’s top Democrat."
Long overdue. Schiff has, as Perry details, a long history of making bald-faced lies and covering up the facts. Among them, in 2017 he peddled total lies about Trump collusion with Russia when his access to classified information may well have added credence in the public eye to falsehoods. And then Sperry continues:
We now know most of the preposterous rumors Schiff dramatically read into the public record came from a source who was invented by the dossier’s authors. In his hyping of the dossier, Schiff smeared and defamed not only Trump, but also Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign adviser, whom Schiff falsely painted as a Russian agent.
The next year, Schiff would be caught lying about the so-called Nunes Memo exposing FBI abuse of the FISA wiretap process to spy on Page. Schiff claimed then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes misled the public when he said the FBI heavily relied on the debunked dossier to swear out the warrants. In his own memo, Schiff, as ranking member, insisted the FBI’s warrants were based on other evidence and were above-board.
In 2019, the scathing Horowitz Report proved it was Nunes who was telling the truth. Schiff, who had access to the same classified FISA information as Nunes, knew better.
It may well be that the voters of Schiff’s district do not care that they are represented by an inveterate liar who abuses his position of trust, but it’s time there were some consequences imposed for such outrageous conduct, and the battle for the speakership seems to have resulted in a promise to do the maximum in the speaker’s power to impose sanctions for such behavior.