With McCarthy’s withdrawal for speaker post, House GOP is a mess

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy surprised everyone this afternoon by dropping his bid.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who was presumed to have at least enough support to become the Republican “nominee” for the speakership (but great uncertainty whether he had the votes to actually become speaker), surprised everyone this afternoon by dropping his bid.

The news leaked out by texts sent by members of the House Republican Caucus who were in a closed-door meeting to start the process of choosing their candidate speaker.

“For us to unite, we probably need a fresh face,” McCarthy told a media scrum in the halls outside the meeting.

OMG. I really had not intended to write about this speaker thing every day, let alone twice a day. And I’m really in no position to speculate on what will happen next. But having obsessed on this in the last two posts, I had to at least put up this update.

I’m really glad my post of this morning included this paragraph:

NBC quotes one unnamed Repub member of the House who says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get a speaker until the next Congress.” The handicapping will change every day, until it doesn’t.

At the moment there is no announced plan for a process to get back to the business of picking a speaker. House Republicans were said to be in “total disarray.”

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes:

There is a revolution happening within the Republican Party right now. The establishment’s hold on power is more tenuous than it has been at any time in recent memory. There is no one currently in office that can claim with any credibility that he or she speaks “for” the party as a whole.

There is a still a speaker of the House, John Boehner, who has announced his plan to retire but recently postponed its effective date, and there is still a deadline  of Dec. 11 when a stopgap spending bill expires, and, as the New York Times writes, “Without congressional action, much of the government will shut down.”

Politico reports that there is talk of finding someone to fill the speakership on a temporary basis, and the names of those mentioned include Minnesota’s John Kline. Here’s that paragraph:

Meanwhile, House Republicans immediately began floating a number of names as potential caretakers. One is retiring Minnesota Rep. John Kline, a close ally of Boehner who is chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee. A spokesman for Kline did not rule it out, saying in a statement that the congressman “is confident House Republicans will select someone who can do what’s best for our country and this institution.”

Politico also said “Others are talking about trying to persuade Boehner to stay until 2016.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/08/2015 - 03:24 pm.

    I’d laugh

    Actually, I did laugh. But then I thought, “what if one of the right extremists takes the position.” And then I almost joined in on the GOP crying that is supposedly happening behind closed doors.

    I have an idea that would not only totally align the Republican party, but also give the players who have taken Congress and the country hostage their just desserts: the GOP “moderates” should switch parties. No, not to Democrat. A third party. Which would likely lose them their majority in the House, but also the Tea Party would not be majority. It’s about time some extremists were pushed to where they belong: the fringe. Might be a bit of a mess, but no more than it is now. And, some reasonable alliances might just be forged in order to get some decent legislation done rather than having to coddle the hard right just to stay on topic.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/08/2015 - 11:16 pm.

      Both Ends

      Do you support the Democrats booting the folks that think like and support Bernie Sanders also? (ie Democratic Socialist leanings) I would be ecstatic if their was a fiscal conservative social liberal party someday, unfortunately that seems unlikely at this time.

      As I said previously:
      As we MP commenters know, “we the people” are a very very diverse group with very very different values, beliefs, opinions, etc. I wonder if us commenters would do any better if we were in their place? Imagine trying to get our far Lefters and far Righters to agree on taxes, spending, regulatory, foreign policy, social policy, etc. Just thinking about it makes me smile… 🙂

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/09/2015 - 08:27 am.


        If it was an issue over whether or not the House will function. And I’m saying this as one who supports Bernie Sanders. But that doesn’t seem to be the issue here, does it? Bernie doesn’t sit as far left as the Tea Partiers sit to the right. And Bernie isn’t busy using the fear of one party to lose power to control the majority with minority opinion like the Tea Party group is.

        Oh…and at least some moderate Republicans in Congress are openly saying that if the Tea Partiers don’t like the Republican party, they’re free to leave the party. Of course the Tea Partiers won’t because then they won’t have any power to swing a larger party by the tail. That’s why the moderates should form their own party.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/09/2015 - 10:42 am.


          Personally I think this group who is arguing with the moderate Democrats proves otherwise. They just don’t have the power / support to accomplish much yet. I am sure they would be happy to force their agenda if they could find the leverage.


          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/09/2015 - 01:10 pm.


            “If” they could find the leverage. The subjunctive is the giveaway: they don’t have the leverage, so any speculation on what the Progressive Caucus would do is moot. Put another way, it doesn’t matter if “both sides would do it;” the important thing is that one side is doing it. Balance doesn’t enter into it.

          • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 10/09/2015 - 04:01 pm.

            And what is their agenda?

            Lets take a look:

            (1) No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits;

            (2) Must contain serious revenue increases, including closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing individual income tax rates for the highest earners;

            (3) Significantly reduce defense spending to focus the United States Armed Forces on combating 21st century risks; and

            (4) Promote economic growth and expand economic opportunity by including strong levels of job-creating Federal investments in areas such as infrastructure and education, and by promoting private investment.”

            OMG they are friggin Commies. How about Sanders:

            Sanders has proposed the College for All Act, a plan to provide free education at public colleges funded by a small tax on Wall Street transactions.

            Sixty-three percent of respondents supported a similar proposal from President Obama earlier this year, including 47 percent of Republicans.

            Sanders called the “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent” in America “obscene” and has called for a return to a much higher marginal tax rate. “If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top tenth of 1 percent, you’ve got to transfer that back” Sanders told CNBC.

            And Sanders lists America’s top 10 corporate tax avoiders on his Senate website and details the compensation packages of America’s wealthiest CEOs.

            Sixty-four percent of Americans say they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations aren’t paying what’s fair in federal taxes, and 61 percent say the same about some wealthy people, according to a recent Pew poll. Meanwhile, 67 percent of Americans recently told Gallup they were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.

            Health Care For All
            Sanders is critic of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it doesn’t go far enough and calling for a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer healthcare plan, similar to programs in most developed democratic nations.

            The idea is extremely popular among Democrats, with nearly 80 percent in support according to a January 2015 poll by the Progressive Change Institute. The poll found that a majority of Americans overall supported a Medicare-for-all insurance option.

            I could go on, the point is that ideas promoted by the “Radicals” on the Left are supported by the majority of Americans. We just aren’t being told that.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/10/2015 - 12:30 am.

              Usual Questions

              How much control are you willing to give over to the politicians and bureaucrats?

              Are you willing to give them even more of your paycheck in hopes that they use it wisely and that you / your family see some personal benefit from it? How much more? We are at ~35%… Are you okay with 50%? 60?

              I am very interested to see how the vote goes next year. I know what the carefully worded poll questions imply, however I don’t think citizens trust politicians enough to want to give them even more money and power to mismanage.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/08/2015 - 03:45 pm.

    Rumors, rumors, rumorsA hit

    Rumors, rumors, rumors

    A hit campaign over the past few day…

    “BREAKING: GotNews.com Hit With ‘Cease & Desist’ Letter For McCarthy-Ellmers Affair Story”


    Now try to find the other stories with that–all pulled within the last hour or so.

    Looking for the candidate with a clean back-ground to be speaker.

    Don’t need no more scandal.

    No more meetings in parks…

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/09/2015 - 06:48 am.

    Pyrrhic victory?

    The right-wing radicals in the House, the ones who most loudly voice their opposition to “RINOS,” taxes, governing, and women having any influence at all, anywhere, may be in the process of destroying the Republican Party. Should this come to pass, my personal hope is that theirs is a genuinely Pyrrhic victory. They may well have won the battle over the position of Speaker of the House, but in the process may also have lost the right-wing radical war against government by *all* the people rather than the select few who share their distorted views. With luck they’ll alienate so many of their “soft” allies, not to mention the public in general, that they’ve already passed the peak of their influence, and it’s all downhill from here.

    I don’t know that that’s what will happen, of course. I have no connections in the House, or in D. C., but I’d like to see the radical fringe kicked to the curb where it belongs, so that the grownups in the national legislature can do what they were elected to do, which is govern the country. As Eric and any number of high school and college teachers of government have pointed out, we have a system that’s burdened with numerous choke points, and thus messy and inefficient. Adding the temper tantrums of middle-aged 3-year-olds to the mix, as the Mad Hatters have done in recent years, simply brings government to a halt, and makes us look – with some justification – like idiots to the rest of the world’s democratic industrial societies.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/09/2015 - 08:18 am.

      Thank Heavens

      “we have a system that’s burdened with numerous choke points, and thus messy and inefficient.”

      I always find it amusing when people seem to see this as a bad thing. It seems they would like our society to swing more violently from Left to Right and Right to Left depending who is in power. I am much happier having the fighting in the political chambers rather than in the streets.

      Let’s hope the chaotic controlled collaboration negotiation and slow change continue. Were thing better in the mid-2000’s when they were passing many laws?


  4. Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/09/2015 - 10:05 am.

    Republican = This

    After their big wins in 2014, Republicans said (again and again) that they were going to come in and straighten things out, govern like professionals, pass the kind of common sense legislation American voters had said (with their votes) they wanted and box Obama into showing that HE and the Democrats were the real obstructionists that couldn’t govern, not them.

    “At the moment there is no announced plan for a process to get back to the business of picking a speaker.”

    There you go. Forget about things like the (previously easy and bi-partisan) transportation bill. Forget about the infrastructure. Forget about the budget. Forget about ANYthing having ANYthing to do with the process of taking care of the American People’s Business: The Republicans have bigger fish to fry. They need to get THEIR “process” for picking their own “leader” back on track first.

    “Without congressional action, much of the government will shut down.”

    If that happens this time it won’t be because it’s a part of some (beyond faulty) Republican strategy. It will happen because Republicans WON’T BE ABLE TO STOP IT because they are so incompetent, so unable to govern ANYthing, that they can’t even choose a person to fill a basic institutional JOB.

    “Total disarray.”

    Perfect… Think about it. Think back to almost any part of, but especially the very end of the last time Republicans controlled the White House… Lehman Brothers, AIG, 750,000 jobs being lost every month, $750 BILLION in (Republican) “bail out!!!!” money shoveled to the Financial Services Industry (George Bush Jr’s biggest campaign contributors in his 2000, “hanging chad”/Supreme Court election). Millions of Americans out of work, losing their health insurance, losing their homes. Dick Cheney. Donald Rumsfeldt. Paul Wolfowitz. Two credit card neocon-driven wars raging. Thousands of dead American soldiers. 1/2 million dead Iraqis. Two TRILLION dollars (your children and grandchildren and theirs and theirs will be paying higher than necessary taxes to cover) down the rat hole. Syria. Isis. Iran. Russia bombing Syrians. Millions and millions of refugees looking for a place to sleep, something to eat, a leaky raft ride to Greece and a train to Europe. “They’ll welcome us with rose petals and candy. As we stand them up, we’ll stand down.”

    Total Disarray.

    You want more? You feelin’ lucky? Well, areya? Go ahead… Vote Republican.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/09/2015 - 10:36 am.


      Let’s see… There are the Republicans who at least say they are trying to reduce government control, spending, ineffectiveness and tax growth… And there are the Democrats who openly promote government control, spending, ineffectiveness and tax growth.

      It is quite a choice….

      • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 10/09/2015 - 10:52 am.

        I’ve yet to see a Democrat campaign for ineffective government

        The fight among Republicans doesn’t seem to do with issues, but with tactics. There are Republicans who want to keep the government functioning while they pursue their issues and Republicans who want to see it collapse unless they get their way immediately.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/10/2015 - 12:52 am.

          No Accountability

          Any politician who says we need to raise spending because that is what it costs is promoting ineffective government. Could you imagine a business staying solvent with this methodology? No clear goals, measurables, accountability…

          Just one of many examples. The Democrats still back the education unions even though the results of their efforts are mixed at best. Until NCLB we didn’t even know how many poor children they passed through system instead of teaching them. The Democrats resist all accountability measures, therefore putting the wants of those adults ahead of the needs of the unlucky children.

          It probably makes sense since the public Union members vote whereas the poor kids don’t

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/12/2015 - 12:55 pm.

            Ineffective Government

            “Any politician who says we need to raise spending because that is what it costs is promoting ineffective government.”

            What do you call it when a politician/party starts two wars, one on the flimsiest of pretexts, and then refuses to pay for it by raising taxes? Or, for that matter, refuses to include the funding for that war in the normal appropriations process? Is that just “ancient history,” or proof that “both sides do it, but the Democrats are really, really bad because teachers’ unions?”

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/09/2015 - 01:12 pm.


        Please name one Democrat who is “openly promot[ing] . . . ineffectiveness.”

        Not your interpretation (or the interpretation of many other people commenting on a blog). Who is openly promoting it?

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 10/09/2015 - 06:14 pm.

        Republicans want to reduce govt aid

        To the poor and middle class but not touch the obscene amount of money to the military industrial complex that Eisenhower defined in 1961. The biggest waste in the federal budget is in manufactured wars and ridiculous military spending.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/09/2015 - 08:35 pm.


        Maybe if you are a Tea Party Republican who doesn’t care if your party takes the Nation down in flames with it.

        There was a time when Republicans stood mainly for reducing government control, spending, ineffectiveness and tax growth. These Republicans I believe also had a sincere commitment to fairness and did not cherry pick who would benefit from their conceptions. The Tea Party today, like the band think are not sincere enough in promoting their agenda think these concepts apply EXCEPT when it affects major defense contractors and defense spending, initiating “wars of liberation” abroad and their affluent friends who are enjoying the privileges of being rich in a plutocracy.

        What are your choices as a Democrat? You have your “Blue Dog” Democrats who are oh-so-committed to “fiscal prudence”. Damn the consequences to anyone outside of their favorite constituency. My favorite is the hypocrite Colin Peterson who is so conservative EXCEPT when it comes to agricultural subsidies, then he’s a veritable Samuel Gompers.

        Then you have your Clintons, your Obamas and your DNC Democrats, the ones bankrolled by Robert Rubin and the friends of Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson, Lloyd Blanfein, JamieDimond and Larry Sommers. Such friends who include prudent-spending fanatacists like the Tycoon Pete Peterson. He’s the plutocrat who seems to have succeeded in getting President Obama’s attention, even getting his own commission to give credence to his platform, like the “chained CPI” to “reform” Social Security. Old people? let them eat cat food.

        Bernie Sanders is the only person i hear who “openly promotes spending.” Maybe that should be revised to say “openly promotes spending on things that really are important”. This is still the richest country on earth and in the history of the world. That we cannot figure out what other countries, like the Scandinavian countries and and number of other countries in Europe have figured out, can only be attributed to a) a failure of leadership in this country or b) a failure of the people in this country to come their senses and get serious about real issues affecting their lives.

  5. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 10/09/2015 - 10:26 am.


    It is sad when most of the Congress violate their oath to the office, this really has gone long enough. The Internet has really made every crackpot and nut job think their opinions need to be expressed and acted on. And they elect equally unstable people who are not doing their jobs.

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/09/2015 - 04:21 pm.

    Rather be Right. . .

    When I was young, there was a phrase people used to describe Barry Goldwater and his true believer disciples: “I’d rather be Right than President.” I came across an essay by historian Richard Hofstadter in 1964 entitled “Goldwater and Pseudo-Conservative Politics” where he writes:

    “But Goldwater’s zealots were moved more by the desire to dominate the party than to win the country, concerned more to express resentments and punish “traitors”, to justify a set of values and assert grandiose, militant visions, than to solve actual problems of state. More important, they were immune to the pressure to move over from an extreme position toward the center of the political spectrum which is generally exerted by the professional’s desire to win. Their true victory lay not in winning but in capturing the party-in itself no mean achievement-which gave them an unprecedented platform from which to propagandize for a sound view of the world.”

    The “Goldwater zealots” ended up succeeding beyond their hero’s wildest dreams. Goldwater’s follower and successor, Ronald Reagan, managed to engineer a take over that shifted the country to the Right and to get a lot of people to drink his Pseudo-Conservative Kool-Aid. Pseudo-Conservatism, euphemistically called “Movement Conservatism” took over all three branches of government for several periods, including the 2000-2006 period when they got to showcase how well they could govern. Not well as it turned out. It astounds me that wrecking the country once in this young century is not enough to quench the thirst for this band of radicals. But under the logic of pseudo-conservatism, the goal is is not governing. It’s being “Right” and cramming their pseudo-conservative right-wing morality and agenda down everyone’s throats. If the country goals down in flames because it, it is always the fault of the “liberals” or other demon du-jour from their Millenialist, Apocalyptic fantasies.

    I join Ms. Kahler and Mr. Schoch in hoping to see the radical fringe booted out swiftly and they and their followers marginalized. It’s probably too much to hope that this group and their mind-set will ever go away permanently-history and Mr. Hofstadter teaches that they won’t- but it would be nice to have a few decades of respite from “status politics” (see Hofstadter) and its “politics of cultural despair”.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/14/2015 - 10:15 am.

    The republican obituary

    I think as we write the obituary for the republican party we’ll record that electoral bump they got in 2012 as something akin to the German gains in the Battle of the Bulge.

Leave a Reply