Republicans pick up the house and that means the traffic jam begins
Ideological Commissar MTG will not let President McCarthy stray from a very hard line.
Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
For some Republicans, their takeover of the House by a very narrow margin may seem like a ridiculous price compared to their grand dreams of a midterm landslide. But as tenuous and disappointing as it is, a GOP majority in the House will achieve a key goal for Republicans: annihilate any prospect of significant legislation in the final two years of Joe Biden’s first term.
The smaller his margin of control turns out to be, the less power future President Kevin McCarthy would have to cut deals with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer or the White House, in the highly unlikely event that he felt inclined to do it. . Indeed, to secure his election to the presidency in January, the Californian may have to explicitly promise an attitude of bristling hostility to any Democratic overtures to cooperation, lest the House Freedom Caucus’ MAGA bravos not knock him down.
So what will House Republicans do for two years? Lay the groundwork for 2024 through a combination of (a) “messaging” bills designed to put potentially vulnerable Democrats on the spot while promoting emerging GOP talking points in 2024 and (b) aggressive use of powers investigative and House oversight to go down every conceivable rabbit hole on conspiracy theory involving Democrats past and present, with a particular focus on Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden and their “Deep State” allies. This will do the Benghazi! The histrionic Republicans prosecuted the last time they controlled the House look like quiet, sensible legislation.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled Senate will be able to confirm Biden’s justices and executive appointees, and perform its own empty “messaging” gestures. And as a silver lining, the legislative coma the House GOP will induce means that the power of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to hold the country hostage to their whims will largely vanish.
A more immediate consequence of the House GOP takeover is that the 2022 lame duck session of Congress, marking the final days of the Democratic trio, is suddenly a very big deal. Anything that requires joint House-Senate action before 2025 will have to happen immediately. This includes, of course, must-have legislation to avoid default and maintain federal government funding. Yes, the former House Republican regimes have found a way to accompany the measures necessary to avoid a default and a global economic collapse, or even a shutdown of the American government. But not a single constructive act can be taken for granted from the mob poised to take over the House.