On his 15th try, Kevin McCarthy gave up all of his power to become an empty-suit speaker that is likely to be fired by his caucus within a year.
The tepid applause that McCarthy got from his own caucus as his name was placed into nomination was an ominous omen:
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) January 7, 2023
McCarthy gave up so much that he has no power, control, or ability to lead his caucus. For instance, he let the far right dictate how many seats they will have on important committees. Committee assignments are a powerful tool that speakers use to keep members in line. McCarthy gave that up.
On the budget and debt ceiling, McCarthy agreed to attach spending cuts to any increases. These spending cuts will never pass the Senate or be signed into law by the White House, but Kevin McCarthy won’t be able to negotiate a deal to end a crisis because he surrendered all of his power so that he could be the Speaker of the House.
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Rep, McCarthy also agreed not to spend money in Republican open primaries, which means that another powerful tool that the Speaker has, which is the ability to influence House primaries is gone.
The biggest self-inflicted wound was that Kevin McCarthy agreed to allow any single member to call for a motion to recall the speaker. McCarthy gave the very people who demonstrated how much they hate him by sinking his candidacy 13 times, the power to fire him at any time.
As soon as McCarthy does something that they don’t like, he could be history. McCarthy will control committees and what legislation comes to the floor, but he allowed himself to become the weakest speaker in American history who will be overseeing a caucus that is so out of control that they turned a procedural vote to pick the next Speaker of the House into a week-long fiasco.
Kevin McCarthy will have the office and the title, but he won’t have the power, which is why he probably shouldn’t get too comfortable because his time as speaker could be very short.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association