House Republicans reportedly are planning to hold leadership elections just one week after the midterm elections, a move likely intended to give Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. an advantage for the number one position in the GOP conference over his more conservative challenger, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
Three unnamed “senior Republican sources” who spoke to Politico said an election to select the next speaker of the House and party minority or majority leader will likely be held November 14. McCarthy, the current House majority leader, is widely expected to run for speaker if Republicans retain their majority after the November elections. In the case of a Republican minority, McCarthy will likely seek the minority leader position as Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., assumes the speakership. Jordan is a declared candidate for the speakership, running with national support from grassroots conservatives.
Holding the vote earlier helps McCarthy fend off Jordan’s challenge by deciding GOP leadership before the December 7 deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which governs border security, and several other agencies. The crux of Jordan’s argument to be leader is that Republicans need to “do what we said.” That means if Republicans promised to build a wall and secure the border, they need to confront the Democrats on wall funding and force them into a tough spot. Under Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Republican tactic has been to avoid a government “shutdown” by any means possible, even refusing to have a debate with the Democrats on funding priorities. Jordan has previously argued against this surrender tactic and in favor of using must-pass funding bills as leverage to advance conservative policies.
But what would McCarthy do? Having the leadership elections before the next shutdown fight shields McCarthy from responsibility for how he leads the GOP conference through that fight. Will he continue to lead like Paul Ryan? Or will he change the way Republicans operate as leader? House members and conservatives won’t know the answer until after the speaker election if it is held this early.
Conservative lawmakers know this, and Politico reports they may attempt to delay the leadership vote for that reason. Holding an early leadership election to benefit McCarthy is a typical swamp tactic. It’s representative of everything President Trump was elected to stand against. Republicans should delay the vote.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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