Nancy Pelosi says she has the votes to become the next House speaker, but a potential challenger has emerged

The anti-Pelosi faction received a potential lift Thursday when a veteran member of the Congressional Black Caucus said she would consider challenging Pelosi, helping rebut one of the central criticisms of this rump caucus of agitators: that they had no plan other than toppling Pelosi.

The CBC, which represents about 20 percent of the Democratic caucus, would likely be divided if Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) follows through with the challenge.

.. Outside advisers to Pelosi believe that the anti-Pelosi wing needs more than just the bare minimum of votes to prevent her from securing 218 votes, with the far greater threat coming from the freshman class that is dominated by female political stars. If many of them announced opposition to Pelosi, it could be a politically mortal wound.

.. in this era of decentralized political forces, more rank-and-file feel free to oppose their party’s leader. These Democratic dissidents are following the footsteps of Republicans who chased one Republican speaker, John A. Boehner, out of office and made life difficult for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

.. Pelosi has deputized the incoming chairman of the Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), to try to produce a new rules package designed to open up the House so that more junior lawmakers can have input through their committees, an olive branch to the incoming freshmen and dozens of ambitious younger Democrats who have felt underutilized in recent years.

Louie Gohmert

Gohmert stated in a House Judiciary Hearing on May 15, 2013, that he believed the FBI did not act with due diligence concerning alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His contention was that the FBI was more interested in Christian groups such as those led by Billy and Franklin Graham than in groups that might be considered less politically correct to target. Attorney General Eric Holder responded to his claims: “The only observation I was going to make is that you state as a matter of fact what the FBI did and did not do. Unless somebody has done something inappropriate, you don’t have access to the FBI files … I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know. That’s all”. Gohmert objected to this on the grounds that Holder had “challenge[d]” his character and made several unsuccessful attempts to inject his viewpoint as a point of personal privilege.[14]

.. On January 4, 2015, Gohmert announced he would formally challenge Speaker John Boehner for the Speaker of the House position in the 2015 election. He announced the move on Fox & Friends Weekend. He lost to Boehner two days later, on January 6.[1][17]

.. In July 2015, Gohmert delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress in which he called upon the Democratic Party to disband due to its historical support of slavery and racism.[18][19]

.. Gohmert expressed fear that he might become the target of gun violence similar to that experienced by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and refused to hold public town hall meetings.[20]

.. He was one of a number of Republicans who voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 on grounds it did not do enough to deal with the government’s growing debt.[23]

.. Gohmert does not believe in manmade climate change, and has asserted that data supporting the theory is fraudulent.[28]

.. On August 12, 2010, Gohmert appeared on Anderson Cooper 360° to defend comments he had recently made on the floor of the House regarding “terror babies”. In a speech about national security made on the House floor in June 2010,[42] Gohmert stated that a retired FBI agent had told him that one of the things the FBI had been looking at were terrorist cells overseas sending young women to become pregnant so they would deliver the baby in the United States, and then take the baby with them back to be raised as a terrorist. When adult, this operative—a U.S. citizen by birth—could be easily infiltrated in the U.S. to carry out terrorist actions.[43]

.. In the interview, Gohmert asserted that pregnant women from the Middle East are traveling to the US on tourist visas, planning to deliver the child there.[45]

.. Representative Gohmert was one of three Republicans who called for the resignation of Robert Mueller, the prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, on the grounds that he can not conduct his investigation fairly because of his conduct as a prosecutor and as acting director of the FBI.[58][59]

Paul Ryan’s Retirement in 7 points

It would be difficult to overestimate the meaning of Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from Congress even as he occupies the office of Speaker of the House. So let’s estimate.

Twice in the past three years, the sitting Speaker has walked away from the office. Ryan only became Speaker because John Boehner, his predecessor, quit rather than suffer through a challenge from the bomb throwers in the Republican House conference. There’s no precedent for this in American history. The Speakership has been one of the most powerful offices in the world. Now it’s apparently more agony than ecstasy for a Republican.

.. A Republican likely won’t be elected speaker after the 2018 midterms. Ryan’s decision suggests he and others have seen enough internal data to know their capacity to hold their 23-seat majority is slipping away.

.. That makes 42 GOP retirements among the 237 Republican members of the 115th Congress—a number vastly higher than any recent Congress’s.

.. the Ryan retirement isn’t just a sign. It’s like a fireball from the sky. And it will occasion more retreats and embolden more Democrats.

.. the GOP is Trump’s party now, not Ryan’s.

.. His mercurial nature and habit of punching down have combined with general GOP support for Trump personally to prevent any such rump from emerging in the Congress. He’s already claimed the scalps of two Republican senators—Bob Corker and Jeff Flake—who attempted to do just that. How did their standing athwart Trump help them or anyone?

.. some of the GOP’s wonkier agenda items are being implemented by the Trump administration–notably, in the sphere of deregulation. So, yes, it’s Trump’s party, but there’s an extent to which it’s also Ryan’s party, the conservative policy wonk’s party. Except, of course, for two big things.

The first big thing is entitlement reform, which is the issue nearest to Ryan’s heart.

.. No matter what happens, no matter the growth of the economy or the glories of #MAGA, the remorseless logic of the actuarial charts showing the government going bankrupt from the cost of Medicare and Medicaid sometime around 2030 is unyielding

.. The second big thing is the massive federal deficit, which is projected to stay above the $1 trillion mark for God knows how long. The bitter irony here is that the Tea Party–whose ab nihilo existence began the Republican resurgence in the House and Senate, and whose anti-Establishment ethos was the precursor to Trump–was obsessed with the idea that Barack Obama was breaking the bank, and rightly so. Now, the Tea Party forms the hard schist of the Republican base, and it’s clearly decided not to hold Trump accountable

To Fix the House, Start With the Speaker

Congress would be more bipartisan if the minority party had a say in the selection.

Longtime observers of congressional races believe that when the dust settles in November, the victorious party will have only a slim majority, probably fewer than 10 seats. If so, members determined to create space for bipartisan legislation would be able to use their leverage by withholding their votes for the majority’s candidate for speaker until the candidate agrees to support reforms in the way the House does business.

  • .. demand an end to “closed” rules that prevent members from offering floor amendments to contested bills; they could
  • ban the consideration of legislative language that members have not had a chance to read and ponder; they could
  • insist that both parties be represented in conference committees.

.. After the midterm election of 1922, the Republicans were left with a narrow majority of 225 seats. A small band of Republican progressives refused for eight ballots to support Frederick Gillett, their party’s anointed candidate for speaker, until he agreed to a package of procedural reforms prior to the ninth.

.. As things now stand, successful candidates need only a simple majority of members present and voting for a candidate. Suppose that the threshold were raised to 60%.

.. The odds of achieving bipartisan solutions to pressing problems would increase significantly.

Lawmakers Question How Long Paul Ryan Will Stay in Post After Likely Tax Overhaul

Many Republicans consider the tax-code rewrite, expected to pass, a legacy accomplishment

.. Trump called Mr. Ryan Thursday and “made sure the speaker knew very clearly and in no uncertain terms, that if the news was true, he was very unhappy with it.”

.. Mr. Ryan himself on Thursday listed two major legislative campaigns he said were necessary to reduce the federal debt. One, he said, is

  1. the tax-code overhaul lawmakers are on the verge of finishing. The second is
  2. a push to overhaul federal safety-net programs to incentivize more people to work, which he intends to spearhead early next year.

.. “Next year is going to be the year where we work on people,” Mr. Ryan told reporters Thursday.

.. Many House GOP lawmakers and aides believe Mr. Ryan will leave in 2019 if the GOP loses its control of the House majority in next year’s midterm elections.

..  If he intends to run for president in the future, his next career move will have to keep him connected to the political realm, GOP strategists said.

..  I think he would need to stay in office for at least a few more years just to remain relevant.”

.. House Republicans said they wouldn’t be surprised to see Mr. Ryan assume a senior role at a conservative think tank at some point.  “He is a policy guy,” Mr. Ross said, “through and through.”

Jason Chaffetz is Fleeing Scandal—But Maybe not on His Own

Why is one of the most ambitious lawmakers in Washington retiring from Congress?

In the political world, to Chaffetz means to throw a former mentor under the bus in order to get ahead, and various prominent Republicans, from former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. to House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, have experienced what it’s like to get Chaffetzed.

.. Chaffetz, who on Thursday said he might not finish out his term, has been considered a contender for Utah governor in 2020 and perhaps one day for the presidency.

.. The once-brash congressional inquisitor has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to explain why he hasn’t been investigating President Trump, the most conflict-ridden commander-in-chief in modern US history.

.. after graduating he went to work for a local multilevel marketing company—think Amway—called Nu Skin, where he worked in PR.

.. allegations that the company was operating as a pyramid scheme. (The company has been Chaffetz’s biggest campaign donor.)

.. He worked briefly in the coal industry, unsuccessfully applied to join the Secret Service, and eventually started a marketing firm with his brother called Maxtera.

.. the former place-kicker campaigned largely on a harsh, anti-immigration platform.

.. leg wrestling Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

.. a media charm offensive that would make Chaffetz popular among journalists, whom he cultivated assiduously by passing out his personal cellphone number to reporters and accepting almost any interview request. It’s all about “old-fashioned human relationships,” he told National Journal in 2015. “You’ve got to get out there and invest the time. Work with the media!”

.. a House Republican strategy session and told the assembled members, “I am your worst nightmare.” He explained how the advent of social media had allowed him to bypass the mainstream media and, with very little funding, knock off an establishment candidate.

.. Chaffetz may have underestimated Hatch, whose mild-mannered exterior belies a ruthless political operator. There’s a reason he’s served longer than any Republican senator since Strom Thurmond.

.. There was a bit of information they were going to disclose if he ran. Things were going to get ugly.

.. Chaffetz stapled himself to Mitt Romney, serving as a regular campaign surrogate for the failed GOP presidential nominee, whom he endorsed over his former mentor, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

.. Chaffetz, now running for reelection in 2012, quickly found other ways to nab the spotlight. Before the FBI had secured the Benghazi compound following the September 11 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Chaffetz demanded to visit the scene in his capacity as the chairman of the House oversight subcommittee on national security and foreign operations. He dashed off to Libya less than a month later—without any Democrats, as the oversight committee’s policy dictates—to supposedly conduct an independent investigation.

.. The closest he got to the crime scene was Tripoli, 400 miles away.

Chaffetz, who had previously voted to cut $300 million from the State Department’s budget for embassy security, claimed the purpose of his trip was to discern whether the Obama administration had denied requests for more security for the Benghazi compound.

.. He launched a campaign to win the chairmanship of the House oversight committee, then run by the bellicose Rep. Darrell Issa

.. Chaffetz campaigned for the chairmanship as the anti-Issa, implicitly critiquing the oversight chairman’s combative style and suggesting that he could bring to the committee an element of media savvy that Issa lacked. Once again, Chaffetz stabbed a mentor in the back and won.

.. one of his first moves was taking down the portraits of past chairmen, including Issa, that hung in the hearing room. Issa was not pleased. “It’s not a big deal, but it’s just indicative of what his mindset was and how self-centered he is,”

.. Fellow lawmakers, Bardella notes, were repelled that “Jason would be so willing to throw under the bus someone who really tried to help mentor him, for his own gain.”

.. He’d chaired the oversight committee for less than a year before launching an audacious bid for speaker of the House when John Boehner retired. Aside from being a very junior member of Congress, Chaffetz’s bid for the speakership also meant he would be running against his friend and former champion, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

.. Jon Huntsman tweeted: “.@GOPLeader McCarthy just got “Chaffetzed.” Something I know a little something about. #selfpromoter #powerhungry

.. threatening to impeach the head of the IRS over his handling of the nonprofit status of tea party groups and suggesting there might be grounds to remove President Barack Obama from office over Benghazi.

.. HRC, a.k.a. Hillary Rodham Clinton, would have been good for Chaffetz’s political fortunes, however.

.. These listening sessions are typically subdued affairs, but this one drew hundreds of angry constituents, who demanded to know why the chairman of the House oversight committee was not doing more to investigate President Trump.

.. I think he used the fact that he could investigate an administration of an opposing party to his advantage during the Obama years that allowed him to be in front of the cameras repeatedly, and to be seen as pursuing the interests of the Republican Party. But I think what has people, or at least some people, in his district concerned is the appearance of a double standard, that he was very eager to investigate Hillary Clinton and has been extremely hesitant to pursue serious questions about the Trump administration.”

.. Evan McMullin, who launched his anti-Trump effort in Utah, had suggested he might consider challenging Chaffetz or Hatch.

.. “He has almost the perfect rainbow of hate. Liberals will never think he’s doing enough in that position. And of course the alt-right may think anything he does against President Trump is feeding into this frenzy against their president. It has put him in a place where it’s very tough to do right by anyone.”

.. Chaffetz, a canny political operator, has surely read the tea leaves, wagering that it is in his best interests to sit out the bruising political fights of the Trump administration’s first term lest Trump bring Chaffetz down with him.

.. he may take the path of other high-profile members of Congress and nab a lucrative contract with one of the networks, where he can maintain his visibility, build up his bank account, and bide his time for the right moment to get back in the political game.

.. his campaign committee registered the domains Jason2028.com and JasonChaffetz2028.com.

Why is Jason Chaffetz suddenly retiring from Congress? One word: Ambition.

So why is Chaffetz doing so?

The most likely answer, theorize Republican strategists watching this play out, is that Chaffetz is just bored with his job. His job as chairman of the oversight panel is to investigate the government, and it probably would have been a lot more fun for this tea party-leaning Republican to investigate Hillary Clinton’s government than President Trump’s.

.. After Trump was inaugurated, Chaffetz rather provocatively suggested that he planned to remain a national figure because of Clinton, not Trump. That hasn’t really materialized now that Congress is investigating Trump’s potential ties to Russia.

.. And in a town full of overly ambitious people, he is especially known for dripping with ambition.

.. Josh Romney, Mitt Romney’s son, said he’s “strongly considering” running, but that wouldn’t preclude Chaffetz from jumping in.

.. maybe he just decided that his name recognition was high enough to do it from the private sector (where in-the-know members of Congress can make millions)

.. Chaffetz’s district isn’t going to suddenly be competitive for Democrats. It’s one of the most Republican districts in the nation.

.. Chaffetz has never been a traditional politician. He makes political calculations slightly differently than the average lawmaker, and he doesn’t really care if he raises eyebrows doing so.

.. Chaffetz famously set a modern record of flip-flopping on Trump.

.. When John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) resigned last year as House speaker, Chaffetz announced a run for speaker. (He dropped out after Rep. Paul D. Ryan entered the race.)

.. But Chaffetz has clearly decided that speaker is no longer a job he wants.