Republicans and pundits alike have come up with some increasingly absurd spins during the House GOP’s self-imposed leadership crisis, but Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz may have delivered the most pathetic take on Thursday.
Following a failed second round of votes that found him losing support among his GOP colleagues for Speaker of the House, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) retreated on Thursday and will reportedly back a plan to temporarily empower Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the Speaker pro tempore.
Under this proposal, McHenry would be able to advance legislation and would reopen the House, which has been without a speaker since Kevin McCarthy was removed on Oct. 3. Jordan, whose bullying tactics have backfired during his campaign to secure the gavel, will remain the Speaker designee as he looks to regroup and shore up the 217 votes he needs.
With the chaos in the House purely of the Republicans’ making, Fox News anchor John Roberts wondered on Thursday just how quickly Democrats would have picked a speaker if they held the majority in the chamber.
“If the script were flipped and it was Democrats in control of Congress, if Hakeem Jeffries was put up for a vote for speaker, how long do you think it would take to get to 218 [votes]?” Roberts asked Chaffetz. Jeffries, of course, is the House minority leader and has been nominated by Democrats as their speaker candidate in every vote since January.
“Well, Hakeem Jeffries has lost 17 races in a row,” Chaffetz, a former GOP congressman, declared. “So 17 times in a row he’s been put up as speaker and he’s lost. So he’s already over that threshold.”
Unsaid by Chaffetz is that Democrats are in the minority in the House, though the GOP only holds a razor-thin edge as the majority party. During the unprecedented 15 rounds of votes it took McCarthy to secure the speakership in January, and in the two rounds this week, not a single Democrat voted against Jeffries.
Roberts, meanwhile, restated his position to Chaffetz in a possible attempt to allow his colleague to save face a bit.
“No, I just meant the Democrats would elect a speaker very quickly if they were in the position the Republicans were in,” the anchor said.
“Yeah, they haven’t had those problems,” Chaffetz conceded.
In recent days, conservatives have desperately and ridiculously tried to blame the Democrats for Republicans’ inability to pick a speaker. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), for instance, insisted on Wednesday that Democrats “created the current citation,” prompting CNN anchor Brianna Keilar to confront Scott’s “interesting verbal gymnastics” while pointing out that it was a GOP lawmaker who initially filed the motion to vacate that led to McCarthy’s ouster.
The Daily Beast