Following a contentious closed-door meeting Thursday in which House Republicans once again failed to coalesce around a path to electing a new speaker, one Republican told Punchbowl News just how dire the situation really is.
Speaker nominee "Steve [Scalise] is done. 100% done," the unnamed legislator told reporter John Bresnahan. “We might never elect a speaker.”
Relying on anonymous sourcing generally isn't advisable, but the first part of that prediction proved prescient: Scalise was toast by Thursday night and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was already making calls to shore up support.
Now the second part of that prophecy will be put to the test. Republicans are in mind-boggling disarray—so much so that Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has been tweeting things like this for the past several days:
"The House Republican Civil War continues to paralyze Congress,” Jeffries posted early Thursday morning. “A bipartisan path forward is the only way out."
In fact, all it would take is a handful of House Republicans to step up, offer to make a deal with Democrats, and voilà! A speaker is born.
Yes, that's an oversimplification—not of the numbers, but of the grit and resolve it would take for five GOP members to elevate the good of the country over the pettiness of their party.
Given the stakes right now—and the dire need for moral courage and solidarity—it seems at least possible that one lonely Republican could muster the grit to initiate that conversation.
But instead, you get supposedly serious Republicans like Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, scolding Democrats for the preposterous failures of his own caucus.
“They put us in this ditch along with eight traitors,” Rogers groused following Republicans' fruitless Thursday morning meeting. “We’re still the majority party, we’re willing to work with them, but they gotta tell us what they need.”
Republicans are in charge, presiding over an epic failure in governance, but it's the Democratic minority’s responsibility to not only save them from themselves but grovel while doing it.
In short, the prospect of finding five House Republicans with the steely resolve to cut a deal with Democrats stands at slim to none.
If there's any hope to be found, it would come from the most vulnerable House Republicans who are clearly waking up to the fact that the ongoing speaker fiasco stands a good chance of costing them their seats next year.
Rep. Jen Kiggans of Virginia, one of 18 Republicans who sit in a district that favored Joe Biden in 2020, was asked Thursday afternoon whether she was concerned that the Republican speaker crisis has put her seat in danger.
"I am," she told CNN's Manu Raju. "Again, there's work to be done here. Getting the economy back on track. Israel's at war. I'm concerned about the military. I'm concerned about people from my district who we’ve sent into harm's way."
Another member of the "Biden 18," Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, admitted to Raju what has become perfectly obvious over the past several weeks.
"These guys want to be in the minority," Bacon said of the Republicans who conspired to eject Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California from the speakership without any plan for how to replace him.
Any Republican who is serious about governing has the power to break this impasse by reaching across the aisle. But frankly, not a single one of them is proving to be that serious about governing.