Opinion: 15th Time’s the Charm?

Alexander Kuplicki, Editor

Amid a contentious bid for Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy finally secured his seat as the House Majority Leader for the 2023-2024 Congressional year. After 14 failed attempts, on the 15th vote McCarthy won House Majority Speaker seat with 216 purely Republican votes.

On January 3rd, what had appeared to be a simple vote for Kevin McCarthy for Speaker quickly became intra-party turmoil. Despite their 9-seat majority, Republicans failed several times to elect their Speaker. In the first round of voting, 19 Republican Caucus members chose to go against McCarthy and vote for other candidates. Despite several attempts to sway these 19 after several days, they were at a stand-still. 

Most of the members who voted against McCarthy are far-right Trump Loyalists, such as Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, with the latter even casting his vote for Trump in the 7th, 8th, and 11th rounds. They say this is part of their continued effort to “Drain the Swamp” and rid the government of those they believe to be corrupt and acting in shady politics. However, even after former President Trump implored them to vote for McCarthy, they continued to double down. Gaetz wrote of McCarthy: “Kevin McCarthy has no ideology. He’s a vessel through which lobbyists and special interests operate.” Despite their imminent loss, six House Republicans, including Gaetz and Boebert, still refused to vote for McCarthy on the 15th Ballot. 

Although McCarthy ultimately won the seat, this first step is a sign of a bleak future for House Republicans.

This is the first time in 100 years (since 1923) that a House Majority Speaker was not elected on the first ballot, and it is quite unexpected that the Republicans are the ones to do so. In the recent past, unity has been the Republican Party’s strength, presenting a unified front against the divided Democrats during the Obama and Trump years. But so far this decade, that trend doesn’t seem to be continuing. Although it was expected that Far-Left Democrats such as AOC and other “Squad” members would have been the first to split up one of the parties, now that doesn’t seem to be the case. The highly contentious 2020 election and President Trump’s impact on the Republican Party may have caused irrevocable damage to the Grand Old Party’s unity. Now, there seem to be two camps of Republicans. There’s the Trump-Loyalists and the Trump-Separatists. No matter how you slice it, it’s not a good look for Republicans. With a slim majority in the House and minority status in the Senate, the last thing they need is division. If they expect to get anything done in the next two years, their going to have to think fast, because with a 9-seat majority, they can’t afford to lose a single one of their own votes.

With this bleak future for House Republicans, Democrats have been taking full advantage of the situation and making fun of the Republicans at every turn. Whether it be on social media or Hakeem Jeffries during his minority leader speech — where he thanked the Democrats for their “Unanimous Support” — the Democrats are looking to rub salt in the Republicans’ wounds. And their excitement suggests that they see this as a possible two more years of continued Democrat success in the House with a divided GOP.

Pictured is Ted Lieu (D), poking fun at the Republicans after the 1st failed vote on Tuesday, January 3rd via Twitter.

With primaries not that far down the road, Republicans really need to get their act together if they want to challenge the Democrat’s position. Seeing as compromise seems to be impossible in this day and age, they are going to have to do some serious work on their own party. The Democrats are not going to budge or give them any opening. However, only time will tell what the future for the Republican Party is going to look like. If they don’t want to make a mockery of themselves during primaries this year, their going to have to make some serious decisions. Because right now, things are not looking so good for them.