The Morning Briefing: McCarthy Toughens Up Before Speaker Fight—Will It Be Enough?

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Happy Monday, dear Kruiser Morning Briefing friends. Deirdre was fond of giving strangers handcrafted likenesses of Winston Churchill that she made out of sequins.

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To the surprise of no one, House Republicans are trying to ruin the smaller-than-expected victory that they had in November. Republican politicians are notorious for shoving their heads into the mouths of gift horses whenever they show up.

Kevin McCarthy isn’t any conservative’s ideal pick to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. I’ve called for him to be out of leadership on more than one occasion. However, the GOP is short on options for replacing him at the top in the House by the time they vote on the new Speaker. Rep. Andy Biggs from here in Arizona is challenging McCarthy, but few see him as a legitimate threat.

Biggs also has, on more than one occasion, admitted that he’d like to play spoiler just to get someone different than McCarthy in the job.

Here’s the problem with that.

With no one having shored up a legitimate run at McCarthy, there’s no guarantee for conservatives just how it will turn out. After all, McCarthy was thought to be the logical successor to John Boehner when he abruptly resigned in 2015. Conservatives weren’t comfortable with McCarthy back then either, and we ended up with Paul Ryan instead.

How did that work out?

I do think that McCarthy has worked a little to rehab his image with conservatives. Not enough for most, by far, but there has been some effort.

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In the run-up to deciding who gets the gavel next, he’s certainly saying some of the right things.

McCarthy has promised several times to remove some of the more loathsome Democrats from their committee assignments, which was a good start.

Matt wrote last month about McCarthy calling out DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas:

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is expected to be the next House speaker, gave Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas an ultimatum: resign or face an impeachment inquiry.

“Our country may never recover from Secretary Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty. This is why today I am calling on the secretary to resign,” McCarthy said. “If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure. And we will determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry.”

McCarthy recently weighed in on the current state of the Hunter Biden sleaze scandal, which Matt also covered:

“We saw the revelations coming out of Twitter as Elon Musk is unmasking the corruption that existed there and the denials that they testified about. So for you personally, you have another move you want to make. Not only do we want to hear from the former executives of Twitter and the other entities, you have something else you want to say?” Kilmeade asked.

“Yeah, I do. This is egregious what we are finding. They should not have Section 230 to start out with, but we also have to go further. What did Facebook and Google do as well? Because they became an arm of the Democratic Party and an arm of government,” McCarthy said. “Those 51 intel agents that signed a letter that said the Hunter Biden information was all wrong — was Russia collusion — many of them have a security clearance. We are going to bring them before committee. I’m going to have them have a hearing. Why did they sign it? Why did they lie to the American public? A Clapper, a Brennan… Why did you use the reputation that America was able to give to you, more information, but use it for a political purpose and lie to the American public?”

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Anyone playing devil’s advocate would say that these are all merely promises that have no guarantees. I would have to agree with that. However, McCarthy is, at present, making the right kinds of promises. As much of a train wreck as the Republicans have been lately, this is at least a move in the right direction.

My guess is that House Republicans are going to figure out a way to reassume control of their chamber without being in the midst of a family feud. On Sunday, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Fox News that McCarthy has been picking up more support recently. That’s no guarantee that he will become the next Speaker of the House.

Just like there’s no guarantee that McCarthy’s recent boldness will carry over or that any alternative to him would be better.

Maybe we should stop looking for guarantees.

Just sayin’.

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