Saturday’s shocking attack on Israel by the Iranian-backed terror organization Hamas has flipped the script on the vote to oust Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). With one of America’s closest allies at war and the danger of a wider regional conflict looming, the U.S. needs authorization to act. But under House rules, no action can be taken as long as the speaker’s chair is vacant.
The decision of all 208 House Democrats to support Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and vote out McCarthy has left Congress “effectively frozen until it elects a new speaker, delaying action on pressing matters,” according to The Wall Street Journal. As a result, some Republicans are talking about voting McCarthy back into the speakership so Congress can take any necessary action related to Israel’s security.
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), a moderate, tweeted on Saturday, “This is why you don’t remove a speaker mid-term without cause. What an unmitigated sh*t show. Removing Speaker McCarthy from office, mid-term, was idiotic.”
“A short window is all we need in the House to reinstate Kevin McCarthy and change the rule,” Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) told the news site Politico.
Bucks County U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) was ahead of the curve, appearing on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning to suggest Republicans would regret the vote and, possibly, undo it.
“This all happened so quick,” said Fitzpatrick. “A deal was pulled together [Sept. 29], which was consistent with the Problem Solvers (Caucus), we don’t believe in government shutdowns…ultimately, there was a House bill that was put on the floor.
“Speaker McCarthy pulled a rabbit out of his hat. He saved our country from the shutdown. The Senate stood down and took up the House bill. And we were under the logical assumption that that kind of behavior would be rewarded.”
But a few days later, every House Democrat — including the three members from the Delaware Valley — joined Gaetz and seven other fringe GOP members to vote McCarthy out. At the same time, 210 Republicans voted against the Gaetz move.
“The motion to vacate [the speakership] gets put on the floor, and we went to our (Democrat) colleagues and said, ‘Can you at least buy us some time?’” said Fitzpatrick. “Forty-eight hours. We can’t rewrite a 300-page rules package to make the House work more in a bipartisan manner in eight hours. It’s impossible.”
So they asked their Democratic colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus, “Can you vote to table it, just this one time?” said Fitzpatrick. They knew that Gaetz would not stop after one try to oust McCarthy.
Fitzpatrick said Republicans asked Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus to vote ‘present’ instead of advancing the motion to vacate. They refused.
“That’s all we were asking for was some time…And that’s why there are so many Republicans in our group that are very, very upset, and add me to the list.”
Asked if they might decide to end the Problem Solvers Caucus “because when you need them most, they collapsed under the pressure from (Minority Leader) Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.),” Fitzpatrick said he did not think it would end.
“There always needs to be some forum where Democrats and Republicans talk,” Fitzpatrick said. However, “The members are going to decide what that’s going to look like.”
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, did not respond to requests for comment.
The politics may have changed in the wake of the attack on Israel. Republicans appear unwilling to go through another chaotic vote like the 15 it took to seat McCarthy as speaker in January.
On Sunday, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, told ABC News he wanted the next speaker to be picked by the party in private.
“It makes a lot more sense to do this behind closed doors and get it finished before we go to the floor,” Buck said, adding: “We’ll agree on a candidate by the end of the week, or we’ll agree on a candidate over the weekend. I think we lock the doors, and we have very limited bathroom breaks and food breaks and make sure we get the job done.”