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Friday, March 31, 2023


Speaker of the House confirmation reveals a divided GOP

Speaker of the house graphic

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Partisanship between the two major parties has now developed further into struggle with the individual parties as Republicans struggled to vote on a new Speaker of the House. 

Although eventually confirmed, Kevin McCarthy’s problematic election as the new Speaker of the House highlights the deeply fractured state of the GOP. 

Post-Trump era ideas have been cemented into republicans pushing for the passage of conservative legislation as a reaction to Democrats’ policy making and other moderate Republicans who have rejected the MAGA movement.

As expected, nearly all Democrats voted against McCarthy, but the refusal to grant the position to McCarthy in the end came from a group of conservatives in the House: the House Freedom caucus. 

Notable members within the caucus that opposed McCarthy’s election included Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs and Scott Perry. 

Perry would later flip and vote for McCarthy, but only because of a “rules package” that was later attached as a bonus to the rules of the 118th House of Representatives. 

These rules have been criticized by Democrats and some Republicans in the House, arguing that they grant great bargaining power to groups such as House Freedom and put McCarthy in a weakened position as House Speaker. 

Kevin McCarthy had been a supporter for most of Trump’s presidency, up until the  U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021

Even after reconciling with Trump to save face, members of House Freedom seem to feel like McCarthy is still not part of their group. 

The trend of hardcore conservatives alienating other Republicans who fail to adhere to the MAGA agenda being set in place by groups such as House Freedom seem to suggest that the GOP’s majority in the House is not solid at all. 

Rather, the rules package adopted by the House in order to appease McCarthy’s opponents in his own party hint at the fact that he may not end up being the true Speaker of the House after all. 

For instance, the new rules package includes a provision that allows for any single lawmaker to call for McCarthy’s removal.

 Should the vote be reached, McCarthy would be removed as Speaker of the House and other caucuses such as House Freedom can nominate another member of the Republican Party who aligns more with their agenda and beliefs. 

Furthermore, one of the rules in the package includes the creation of a subcommittee specifically designed to investigate the Department of Justice. 

Jim Jordan, a member of the House Freedom caucus and close ally to  Trump, will be the one leading the subcommittee and will have access to similar resources as the Jan. 6 committee. 

Freedom House conservatives currently in the House of Representatives used McCarthy’s Speaker nomination as yet another showcase of aggressive conservative policy making. 

This is a reaction against opposing Republicans, an attitude instilled in them by Trump, who has managed to maintain a group of conservatives in government who seem to be unwilling to compromise when it is needed most.

JJ Caceres is a political science sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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