House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a “perfect storm” of complications when the House returns to work Tuesday, Rep. Ken Buck said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki” on Sunday. The Colorado Republican should know—he’s a member of the extremist Freedom Caucus, the group that is gleefully making McCarthy’s life miserable.
McCarthy has promised a lot of different things to a lot of different people, Buck said, including suggesting that he’s open to the idea of impeaching President Joe Biden. Buck is not an impeachment believer and has taken on radical GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying that "the idea that that she is now the expert on impeachment or that she is someone who should set the timing on impeachment is absurd." He added that it should only happen if there is “evidence linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn’t exist right now.”
As for the “perfect storm” brewing in the next three weeks, Buck lists a continuing resolution that has to be passed to keep the government operating, the massive funding cuts the Freedom Caucus is demanding before they’ll allow that continuing resolution, and the impeachment. “So you take those things put together, and Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, has made promises on each of those issues to different groups. And now it is all coming due at the same time.”
Time for the voice of experience to weigh in—namely, former Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader during the 2013 shutdown. You might remember Cantor as one of the “Young Guns” trio, who were, according to the press copy for their book, “changing the face of the Republican Party and giving us a new road map back to the American dream.” The other “guns”? McCarthy and former House Speaker Paul Ryan. In retrospect, how hilarious is this video?
That’s two down so far: Cantor was soundly and shockingly defeated in his primary in 2014, and Rep. Paul Ryan retired in 2018, after a thankless stint as speaker. He took over from former Speaker John Boehner, who resigned in 2015 after the Freedom Caucus seemingly wore him down.
You might think, given that experience, that Cantor would tell the last Young Gun standing to finally cut off the Freedom Caucus and work with the majority of Republicans—along with Democrats—to avoid a shutdown. In a new interview with Politico, he doesn’t do quite that. He told them that he learned the lesson from 2013 that “individuals would be willing to embark upon a plan that was so poorly conceived that there was no exit strategy at all — and that that would be appealing.” He added, “A lot of people were just fine with being able to vent their anger and frustration, go into the shutdown and leave it to leaders to figure out how to get out of it. I think that politically, that’s not a winner — but perhaps that will be what happens again.”
So Cantor’s advice to McCarthy is basically to find an “exit strategy.” That’ll work!
Buck is a little more realistic about it. McCarthy likely will have to pass the continuing resolution with Democratic votes, which will enrage the Freedom Caucus and almost certainly result in their trying to oust McCarthy with a motion to vacate the chair. That’s not something that Buck says McCarthy should be too worried about, though. “I think there will be challenges, but I don’t see anybody stepping up and say, I’ll take Kevin’s job,” he said. “So I think that’s really what saves Kevin is the lack of enthusiasm from anybody else to do the job.”
Gosh, what a ringing endorsement for keeping the House in Republican hands.
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Why does it seem like Republicans have such a hard time recruiting Senate candidates who actually live in the states they want to run in? We're discussing this strange but persistent phenomenon on this week's edition of "The Downballot." The latest example is former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who's been spending his time in Florida since leaving the House in 2015, but he's not the only one. Republican Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana, and Wisconsin all have questionable ties to their home states—a problem that Democrats have gleefully exploited in recent years. (Remember Dr. Oz? Of course you do.)