Particle politics revisited

Republicans nominated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to grow to be Speaker of the Home when the GOP seizes management in January.

Nevertheless it’s removed from clear that McCarthy can attain the votes to grow to be Speaker. McCarthy has spent the previous few days making not-so-subtle guarantees which can assist him grow to be Speaker. McCarthy demanded that Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas resign or face potential impeachment throughout a visit to the southern border. McCarthy additionally promised that “subsequent yr, Republicans will begin day by day of Congress with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. No exceptions.”

Republicans can adopt any rule they want because it pertains to Home operations when the GOP claims management in January. However the Home routinely begins every session with the prayer and pledge anyway. In truth, Home rule XIV dictates “the every day order of enterprise…shall be as follows: First. Prayer by the Chaplain. Second. Studying and Approval of the Journal, except postponed beneath clause 8 of rule XX. Third: The pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.”

In fact, Republicans might at all times alter the rule to make sure that the “Approval of the Journal” doesn’t interrupt the prayer and pledge. However that’s fairly minimal.


This underscores that McCarthy is doing all he can to command sufficient votes to grow to be Speaker. Making guarantees to bounce Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from committees. Hinting at impeachment to sate the urge for food of the precise over the border. Interesting to non secular conservatives.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (AP Picture/J. Scott Applewhite)

It could work. However up to now, the mathematics isn’t in favor of McCarthy when the ground vote hits in January. Reps. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Bob Good, R-Va., are unlikely to help McCarthy. That may very well be sufficient votes proper there to sink McCarthy’s bid for the gavel.

But when not McCarthy, who? 

Home Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.? Home Republican Convention Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.? Rep. and incoming Home Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn.? Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio? Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.?

It wasn’t that way back that McCarthy was purported to succeed former Home Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio as Speaker. After which former Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., took the job – regardless of an adamant declare a number of weeks earlier than that he didn’t need the gig. 

There have been occasions over the previous 15 to twenty years that the next GOP leader or House Speaker was purported to be former Home Majority Chief Eric Cantor, R-Va. Cantor misplaced his main. Former Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y. was thought of as a possible successor to former Home Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Sick. Rep. Pete Periods, R-Tex., tinkered with a management bid a number of years in the past.

Different names who’ve passed by the wayside: Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

This brings us to one in all my most enduring theses about Congress. Who winds up in or out of Congressional management posts is contingent upon “particle” politics. In different phrases, infinitesimal, minute, sub-atomic political particles resolve who emerge as Congressional leaders. It was laborious to see how McCarthy wouldn’t grow to be Speaker seven years in the past. But he didn’t declare the gavel. It was laborious to see how Ryan would grow to be Speaker in 2015. But he did.

Proper now, McCarthy is the odds-on favourite to grow to be Home Speaker on January 3 subsequent yr. However McCarthy lacks the votes – up to now. Thus, does another person truly grow to be Speaker by way of means which aren’t but clear?



It’s all due to “particle politics.” 

An identical phenomenon unfolded on the Democratic aspect of the aisle to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., because the chief of the get together.

The ascension to succeed Pelosi is a Washington parlor recreation performed for years. Home Majority Chief Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Home Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., helped Pelosi type three legs of a stool representing all wings of the Home Democratic Caucus. In different phrases, when you subtract one of many legs, the stool collapses. It was usually thought that after Pelosi goes, all three go. That type of occurred with Pelosi and Hoyer stepping away from management roles. Clyburn stays – however with a lower-profile management submit. 

However determining who was to succeed Pelosi was a thriller which went on for a decade-and-a-half.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on CBS' "Face the Nation." 

Speaker of the Home Nancy Pelosi on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  (CBS Information/Screenshot)

Pelosi and Hoyer have had a rivalry relationship again to once they interned collectively within the workplace of late Sen. Daniel Brewster, D-Md., within the Nineteen Sixties. Pelosi usually blocked Hoyer’s management bids. Pelosi endorsed the late Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Penn., for Majority Chief in 2006. But Hoyer prevailed. And Hoyer would by no means instantly problem Pelosi for the Democrats’ prime management submit. Hoyer lacked the votes and would lose. Nonetheless, over time, Republicans privately conceded they feared Hoyer extra as Pelosi as Speaker. That’s due to Hoyer’s stellar fame of working throughout the aisle and never presenting the GOP with a liberal foil.

However that chance by no means got here for Hoyer. Or Clyburn, for that matter.

There was even a time a few years in the past when some factions within the Democratic Caucus believed that former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., might pose a menace to Pelosi. The 2 had a cold relationship for years. Harman by no means lodged a problem to Pelosi. 

Nor was Harman round lengthy sufficient to outlast Pelosi, ought to the chance avail itself.

Meantime, hypothesis churned for years as Pelosi ushered in a collection of different Democratic lieutenants who aspired to succeed her – however by no means bought the possibility due to the Speaker’s longevity.

First within the queue was present Ambassador to Japan and former Chicago Mayor, White Home Chief of Workers and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Sick. However after serving to Democrats win management of the Home chairing the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee (DCCC) in 2006 and turning into Democratic Caucus Chairman, former President Obama drafted Emanuel to function Chief of Workers.

Then got here Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Van Hollen was within the Home on the time, however finally moved to the Senate.

Focus turned to former Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., for a time. Then present Well being and Human Providers Secretary and former Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., was within the combine. However Crowley – like Cantor – finally misplaced his main to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Schiff may have been the latest potential Pelosi successor. In truth, Schiff started a not-so-stealthy marketing campaign to probably succeed Pelosi. A number of Home Democrats advised Fox that Schiff wouldn’t have launched such an effort except he had a both an implicit or specific blessing from Pelosi. That’s partly as a result of Pelosi and Schiff have at all times loved a particular relationship. That was on exhibit when Pelosi tasked Schiff to function the lead supervisor throughout former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. Schiff chairs the Intelligence Committee. The Home Judiciary Committee chairman had typically been the lead “prosecutor” in such impeachment proceedings. Not the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Nonetheless, Schiff finally lacked the votes to succeed Pelosi. And Home Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., has all however wrapped up the deal to succeed Pelosi by acclamation.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff does a TV interview at the Capitol on July 26, 2021.

Home Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff does a TV interview on the Capitol on July 26, 2021. (AP Picture/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

That is notable. Simply two hours earlier than Pelosi introduced her retirement from the management, Jeffries didn’t reply to a query from yours actually as to if he had “a plan in a drawer someplace” to marketing campaign for the Democrats’ prime management submit. 

Because of this it comes right down to “particle politics.” 

Nobody might have foreseen circumstances years in the past that Jeffries could be the one who would possibly succeed Pelosi – again when all the focus was on Emanuel or Van Hollen.


Who will get into management positions boils right down to laborious work. A little bit of magic. A little bit of luck. And actually good timing.

Kevin McCarthy is now going for the gavel once more. Hardly ever does anybody get a second likelihood at such a main management submit as Speaker. However that’s the chance which has now are available McCarthy’s path.

However McCarthy’s destiny hinges on subatomic, political particles, now racing across the political supercollider.


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