Democrats quit to lose the House to see a silver lining in 2024 if Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell clash and fail to rein in the Trump wing of the GOP


US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) listens to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speak to the press, following their meeting with US President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders of Congress at the White House on May 12, 2021.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

  • Democrats expect chaos in the next Congress as they risk losing control of the House and possibly the Senate.

  • They say far-right members of the House will run the show as Kevin McCarthy works to control them.

  • The prospect worries them, but they say it will also help them defeat the Republicans in 2024.

Democrats facing a potential rout in Tuesday’s midterm elections are bracing for Republican-led chaos in the next Congress, with a likely House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, unable to control his far-right ranks the most marginal and whose leadership style is at odds with his Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell.

That prospect for the next two years worries them — but they also say it presents an opportunity for 2024, in which Democrats can make a clear case against Republican overreach.

If Republicans take control of the House and McCarthy is elected president, the GOP’s agenda and messaging next year won’t depend on McCarthy, the current Minority Leader, said Josh Schwerin, a former gatekeeper. spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton, and founder of Saratoga Strategies. It will be dictated by the “loudest and craziest voices on the right,” he said, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

This far-right group will care about investigations, access to Fox News and ‘getting Donald Trump to say nice things about them’ – not passing the kind of legislation that can be passed in the Senate , did he declare.

“Kevin McCarthy will be a speaker in name only, if he is a speaker,” Schwerin said.

In the House, “the caucus he’s probably going to have is ridiculous,” said Rodell Mollineau, co-founder of Rokk Solutions and former communications director for the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “At some point, is he going to be able to be the adult in the room, or are they going to kind of take it too far?”

A spokesperson for McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment.

“Let’s Do This Fight”

Schwerin suggested that if Republicans decide to repeal popular provisions of the Cut Inflation Act, such as a cap on insulin payments or tax refunds for home energy upgrades, such measures would go nowhere in the Senate because they would not have 60 votes. necessary to overcome an obstruction. “So while we’re implementing these good things, the Republicans are trying to take them away from you — which is a messaging opportunity,” Schwerin said.

It’s also not a bad thing if Biden has to relax his veto power, Mollineau said. This will allow him to show a “clear demarcation” between the parties on the economy. “Let’s do this fight,” he said.

Between McCarthy and McConnell, Democrats view McConnell as the leader with more control over his caucus and they anticipate future splits on legislation and priorities.

“If somehow the Republicans take the Senate and also take the House, I’m still not sure McConnell and McCarthy are on the same page,” Mollineau said.

The two GOP leaders have previously clashed over a bipartisan infrastructure package this Congress, which passed with McConnell backing the Biden administration’s top priority and McCarthy opposing it.

Last month, McCarthy expressed skepticism to Punchbowl News about sending more aid to support Ukraine’s war effort, saying “it’s not a free blank cheque.” Greene recently praised this post at a rally, saying, “Under the Republicans, not a penny will go to Ukraine.” But McConnell told the Biden administration it needed to do more to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression.

McCarthy says he wants to use the debt limit as leverage to force spending cuts. McConnell has worked with Democrats on the debt ceiling before, and Trump recently said McConnell should be “impeached” — senators can’t be impeached — if he does it again. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending, but allows Congress to pay the bills it owes.

“You risk economic disaster, and they don’t care,” Schwerin said. “It always ended badly for Republicans, politically.”

“They’re going to impeach someone”

McCarthy unveiled its “Commitment to America Platform” in September after a year of preparation. But more than any legislative agenda, Democrats expect Republican-led committees to focus on oversight and investigations, including a probe into the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, who could prevent Biden from gain momentum in 2024.

“They’re going to impeach someone,” Mollineau said. “I don’t know who the hell they’re going to impeach, but they’re going to impeach someone.”

If McConnell becomes majority leader, it will be such a narrow majority that the Senate still won’t be able to pass many laws and very few of the House’s will move forward, said Jim Moran, a former House Democrat. of Virginia. That means Biden has already had his “last hurrah” in terms of legislative accomplishments. Democrats, therefore, will have to start watching their benches for presidential candidates, he said.

“I just don’t see how Joe is going to have much to show in the next two years,” he said.

Democrats who are resigned to losing the House and hoping (in some cases) to keep their narrow majority in the Senate have long expected a tough Tuesday. History is not on their side. Two years after their first election, presidents typically see their party lose seats in Congress.

Former President Barack Obama called it “shellacking” when Democrats lost 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats in 2010. In 2018, Trump lost 40 House Republican seats and two Senate seats.

Adding to this historical trend are concerns about the economy, including high inflation and gas prices, as well as problems caused by redistricting, Mollineau said. It doesn’t help that the Democrats’ significant legislative achievements have been crammed into big packages that confuse voters and some things will take time to implement.

“For us, keeping the house was always going to be a huge uphill battle,” Mollineau said. “It has to do with the national mood.”

A “silver lining”

It won’t be like 2010, Schwerin said. Democrats won grassroots legislative victories on gun safety, prescription drug prices and climate change, and manufacturing that aren’t the basis of most campaign attacks. By comparison, Obamacare was a major driver of attacks in the 2010 election.

But it could be as bad for Democrats as it was in 2018 for Republicans, Moran said. He expects House Democrats to lose about 30 seats, dropping from 222 to 190, and Republicans dropping from 212 to about 240.

Moran said there was only one “silver lining” in Tuesday’s expected losses in 2024. When the pendulum swings in the direction of extreme Republicans, there will be a backlash, giving Democrats a fighting chance. in 2024 they wouldn’t have otherwise, he said.

“With Republicans in charge, Democrats will not be blamed for a dysfunctional Congress that is unwilling or unable to focus on the real issues facing the American people over the next two years,” he said. declared.

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