by Ned Ryun
Having been in the D.C. area for over 20 years now, I’ve come to live by the maxim, “Always bank on the GOP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” I was proved right again this last week when 13 Republicans in the House helped pass the $1.2 trillion “Gateway to the Green New Deal” otherwise masquerading as an infrastructure bill.
As I wrote back in August, only 23 percent of this bill is really for infrastructure. The other 77 percent is for things like the $213 billion “allocated for retrofitting two million homes and buildings to make them more “sustainable,” whatever that means. Or the $20 billion for racial equity and environmental justice. Or the mileage tax, as in yes, they want to explore taxing you for every mile you drive in your car.
In the wake of an absolutely stunning clean sweep for Republicans in Virginia from governor to House of Delegates—in a state Republicans hadn’t won statewide in a dozen years and where they’ve lost the last four presidentials—Republicans in D.C. just couldn’t find the nerve to simply say “No.” They couldn’t “Just say no,” kids. It is one of the most beautiful and underused words in the English language, but Republicans appear simply incapable of using it.
Of those 13 Republicans, two are retiring (the impeachment Twinkies of Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger and Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez), two are from blue districts (New York’s John Katko and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew). But the other nine? From Republican districts like NY-11, an R plus 7 district, represented by the apparently very dull Nicole Malliotakis, who was crowing on Twitter that New York would reap more than $100 billion of that infrastructure cash. Apparently, adjusting for inflation, that’s the new 30 pieces of silver. Or take David McKinley of West Virginia’s first Congressional District, which the Cook Report gives a political voting index of R plus 22. Every last one of those nine from R plus districts needs a primary opponent in 2022.
What makes matters worse is that some of those Republicans aren’t backbenchers. They’re in the actual leadership, like the aforementioned and incredibly dull Malliotakis. She’s the Assistant Minority Whip for the Republican Conference, as in one of Kevin McCarthy’s pet minions who voted to strip Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments. Which leads me to this (and I feel like I’m stating the obvious): the Republican Caucus in the House lacks leadership.
After proclaiming that he was whipping against the bill and predicting that no Republicans would vote for it, 13 Republicans blew McCarthy off, including members of his own leadership team. He is incredibly weak as a leader—illiterate, politically speaking—and a corporatist type masquerading as American First. In other words, he is as someone who knows what he’s talking about described to me as “Paul Ryan on steroids.”
I mean, for God’s sake, McCarthy just got outwitted by a woman who can barely utter coherent sentences half the time. All he had to do was get his caucus to toe the line and vote no on a bill that is so obviously bad, has almost nothing to do with infrastructure, and accelerates us into the coercive socialism of the Green New Deal—and he couldn’t even do that. In a week when Republicans were flying high, McCarthy utterly failed and gave Grandpa Dementia a significant victory. When the Biden Administration was absolutely on the ropes, staggered by losses, staring into the abyss of complete and utter failure, Frank Luntz’s roomie let his caucus help it off the mat because he is an incompetent spineless “leader.”
Which brings us back to 2022. Republicans have a very, very good chance of taking the House and Senate back next year. It’s not crazy to think Republicans pick up 40 seats in the House at a minimum and three to four in the Senate. Now fast forward to the first week of January 2023 when we will have leadership elections for a new Speaker of the House and Majority Leader in the Senate. After potentially resounding success in the midterms and a rejection of Biden’s miserable agenda, your reward kids, as things now stand, is a future with Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
This after McConnell let 19 Republican Senators vote for the “infrastructure” bill and McCarthy let 13 Republican House members. Is that really the leadership we should be having if we want to succeed in an America First agenda? It’s time to elect more Republicans in primaries who will pledge not to vote for those two. While I realize leadership elections are inside baseball it would be nice to see enough hard “no” votes to deny those two leadership, and that should absolutely be our goal in 2022.
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Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.
Photo “Adam Kinzinger” by Adam Kinzinger.