Uncertainty over McCarthy replacing Pelosi  

Trump, as per media reports, blamed McConnell for siding with the Democrats and enabling them to win more seats in the Senate to retain their majority at 50…writes TN ASHOK

The Republicans might have nominated Kevin McCarthy for the post of Speaker of the House but it’s still not certain if he will make it to the goal post, and there is still a slim chance that Nancy Pelosi could return on the post.

Even if McCarthy becomes Speaker, he will be in name only as Marjorie Taylor Greene controls the Republican caucus in the House and if he doesn’t do their bidding “he (McCarthy) will be blown away”, says the Guardian.

Both Mitch McConnell and Kevil McCarthy do not enjoy the best of relationship with former President Donald Trump, and the McConnell’s victory as minority leader of the Senate could throw up surprises in the House for the Speaker’s post. He won 37 to 10 despite Trump calling him names showing the chasm in the party.

Trump, as per media reports, blamed McConnell for siding with the Democrats and enabling them to win more seats in the Senate to retain their majority at 50, which included Democrats stealing the Nevada seat from the Republicans.

With the December 6 run off between Herschel Walker (R) and Raphael Warnock (D) for the Georgia seat set to go the Democrat way due to rising unpopularity of the former with abortion scandals hunting an anti-abortion activist, it would mean the Democrats will win a clear majority of the Senate at 51 to 49.

Trump candidates Kari Lake and Lauren Bobert, both won by very low margins after being led by Democratic candidates particularly the latter had to fight Democrat Adam Frisch to the finish. Both Lake, a TV star, and Bobert, an exhibitionist, as described by the US media, are unabashed Trump supporters subscribing to his view that the 2020 election was stolen. And after the midterm losses, Republicans feel most of Trump’s candidates adopted the wrong strategy.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn before departing from the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Oct. 22, 2018.(Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

Trump’s favourite Rick Scott lost the race for nomination for the Senate minority leader losing to seasoned McConnell, whom Trump described derogatorily as the “Old Crow”.

The unrest in the Republican Party over Trump announcing his candidature for 2024 is being thoroughly enjoyed by the Democrats who feel if Biden were to contest in a rematch, he would win again.

On the speaker issue, in the numbers game, Republicans have 221 seats, the required majority in the House against Democrats is 214. The question, according to media reports is, what if Pelosi reconsiders her decision to run for Speaker again given the slim majority the Republicans have, gambling on the odds that supporters of Rick Scott could cross vote for her? Or any new Democratic candidate if Pelosi doesn’t run.

McCarthy has to win another vote in January to secure the role of Speaker of the House.

As Republicans have taken the house with 221 seats, McCarthy has won his party’s nomination to be Speaker in the new Congress. In a closed-door vote on Tuesday, he secured 188 votes in his bid for leadership of the House with 31 opposing, media reports said.

But, McCarthy must win a majority vote of the full House – 218 votes – in January to secure the role.

Should he win in January with the full House backing him with a majority of Republicans, he would replace Democrat Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Democrats have already retained a majority in the Senate.

A native of California, McCarthy has represented a heavily Republican part of the state in the House since 2007. He declared his candidacy for Speaker in a letter to House Republicans that urged them to “stick together and maintain our mission”.

McCarthy had unsuccessfully bid for the role of Speaker in 2015 but was forced to withdraw. He had reportedly told Fox News network that a Republican-led congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Libya was designed to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He then became House minority leader after Republicans lost control of the House in the 2018 US midterm elections – during which McCarthy developed a close relationship with former President Trump.

But, during the 6 January 2021 Capitol riots, McCarthy reportedly asked Trump during a heated phone call to tell protesters to go home. But days later, he visited the ex-president at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida and appeared to make peace.

McCarthy easily defeated congressman Andy Biggs from Arizona, a right-wing populist, for the Speaker nomination, with 188 votes in favour and 31 against. But he must now win over the colleagues that voted for Biggs in order to become speaker in January, reports said.

Republican leadership in the Senate may also face hurdles, after Florida Senator Rick Scott informed colleagues at a lunch on Tuesday of his intention to challenge current minority leader McConnell. This would be the first opposition in 15 years that McConnell faces at the helm, evidencing a gap within the Republican Party in the wake of disappointing results in the US midterm elections.

Republicans in the House offered initial support for McCarthy to serve as Speaker but, given their narrow majority, the job may prove akin to herding cats, says The Guardian.

Each member will have huge sway over the conduct of business, raising the spectre of partisan battles and legislative gridlock with pro-Trump extremists gaining huge leverage, the Guardian said.

To secure the speakership, according to the Washington Post, McCarthy has promised to restore committee assignments for Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona. The former was removed for endorsing violent behaviour and conspiracy theories; the latter for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Rick Wilson, cofounder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said: “McCarthy is the Sino – he’s the speaker in name only. Marjorie Taylor Greene runs the House caucus. Ms Greene has more control over the caucus than Kevin McCarthy does. That symbolic vote was very clearly sending him a signal: do what we want or we’ll blow you out. They will if he does not obey them.”

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