Congressional leaders rarely lose floor votes. Last night, House Republicans lost two.
Congressional leaders rarely lose floor votes. Last night, House Republicans lost two. In back-to-back votes, two top priorities – their attempt to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Israel aid bill – failed in an embarrassing blow to Speaker Mike Johnson.
- The House defeated the impeachment resolution for the Secretary of Homeland Security by a 214-216 vote.
- House Republicans prepared for Mayorkas’ impeachment for months, have a whip operation to track members’ views, and have the power to set when votes take place, so it’s difficult to attribute the failure to anyone besides House Republican leadership.
- Immediately after their defeat, House Republicans brought forward another measure apparently without checking whether they had the support to pass it.
- Speaker Johnson’s standalone Israel aid bill was brought to the floor through “suspension,” which would allow the bill to bypass the GOP-controlled Rules Committee and pass by a two-thirds majority vote. The bill failed 250-180, far short of the 287 votes needed to pass.
- Three House Republicans – Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) voted against the move to impeach Mayorkas. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT), a member of leadership, flipped his vote to “no” in a procedural move to allow GOP leaders to bring the resolution up again later.
- “Getting rid of Speaker McCarthy has officially turned into an unmitigated disaster,” wrote Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) on X after Tuesday’s double debacles. ““All work on separate spending bills has ceased. Spending reductions have been traded for spending increases,” Massie added. “Warrantless spying has been temporarily extended. Our majority has shrunk.”
- The Washington Post reported on the “chaotic scene” on the House floor as House Republicans attempted to jam the three dissenters on the floor after the impeachment vote deadlocked at 215-215. The trio were unmoved, despite the attempts of several members, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, to persuade their colleagues by shouting in their faces.
- “Once Mike Johnson’s speakership was merely implausible. Now it looks incompetent,” CNN’s Stephen Collinson observed. “Setting up a high-stakes, televised tour de force for the impeachment of a Cabinet official for only the second time in history was a daring act. But failing to actually pull it off by a couple of votes broke the cardinal rule of not putting a bill on the floor until the numbers are rock solid. The result was a debacle that made the House leadership a laughing stock.”
- The New York Times elaborated on House Republicans’ quandary after Johnson’s “calamitous miscalculation” on Tuesday: they want to oppose Biden’s policies “but lack a large enough majority or the unity to work their will.” So, “Instead of a show of Republican unity for impeaching Mr. Biden’s top immigration official, the vote devolved into an extraordinary scene of chaos on the House floor that highlighted G.O.P. disarray.”
- “The Democrats wake up every morning wanting to beat the Republicans, but they’ll never be as good at beating the Republicans as the Republicans are at beating themselves,” wrote National Review’s Jim Geraghty of “the self-defeating Republican Party.” Geraghty noted, “A major factor in all this is that House Speaker Mike Johnson is attempting to placate the erratic political desires of one guy down in Mar-a-Lago, instead of living with the reality of the extremely limited consensus among the 218 other guys in his caucus. This is what happens when the primary criterion for leadership within the Republican Party is public loyalty to Donald Trump, rather than competence, discipline, judgment, or strategic thinking.”
- “Buck, one of the Republicans to vote against impeachment, wrote an opinion article in The Hill in which he called Mayorkas incompetent but said that his behavior isn’t an impeachable offense under the Constitution—and that determining otherwise would set a bad precedent,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Gallagher, another Republican who rejected impeachment, said after the vote that “creating a new, lower standard for impeachment” wouldn’t secure the border or hold Biden accountable.”
- The Commentary Podcast discussed “who benefits” from the GOP chaos on the Hill. The hosts argued about whether Biden would be helped by the contrast with Hill Republicans, or whether Trump’s “burn it all down” rhetoric is aided by DC dysfunction, even when the dysfunction is being caused by Trump-supporting Republicans.
© Dominic Moore, 2023