AMAC Exclusive – By B.C. Brutus
The mainstream media worked itself into a frenzy earlier this week following a hiccup for Republicans on the House floor that saw a few Freedom Caucus members, still irked over the outcome of debt limit negotiations, derail a GOP bill protecting gas stoves from government bans as a sign of protest. But although the incident was undoubtedly an embarrassment for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team, the disproportionately exuberant reaction of the media and congressional Democrats only underscored the fact that, by and large, McCarthy has successfully handled a difficult job – and as a consequence, hasn’t given the left much to gloat over.
McCarthy began his tenure with more challenges than any speaker in recent memory. Things started off rough. It took 15 rounds of voting for him to finally secure the gavel, much to the delight of a media eager to amplify every hint of dysfunction within the new GOP-controlled House.
A razor-slim Republican majority meant that McCarthy would have to win virtually unanimous support from within his caucus on any vote. That is a tall order for any speaker, and one that Nancy Pelosi (who, for all her faults, developed a reputation for keeping her party in line) also struggled with when handed a tight majority of her own in 2020.
To top things off, McCarthy would have a Democrat-controlled Senate and White House to contend with, both of which looked determined to deny House Republicans any victories.
All in all, it seemed a recipe for two years of partisan gridlock and Republican infighting.
But despite these challenges, McCarthy has delivered some notable legislative successes.
The debt limit agreement McCarthy helped hammer out last week was hardly everything conservatives wanted, but it did represent a decisive end to two years of unchecked Democrat control of economic policy that had been disastrous for the country. Though the bill did not bring spending down to the level many Republicans might have hoped, it represented the first tangible progress toward fiscal responsibility in years – progress that Republicans can now campaign on and build off if they can retake the Senate and presidency in 2024.
Some notable wins for conservatives in the debt limit bill are a requirement that states and localities return $28 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds, $1.4 billion in funding cuts from the IRS, and mandating the resumption of student loan payments. McCarthy had to negotiate all of this with a Senate and White House that were initially determined to pass a clean increase with no spending cuts.
McCarthy also led a successful effort to kill a radical overhaul of Washington, D.C.’s criminal code earlier this year (all of D.C.’s city laws are subject to review by Congress). The bill to overrule the D.C. Council passed both the House and Senate and, in a move that surprised many and divided congressional Democrats, was signed by President Biden. McCarthy’s leadership on the issue proved instrumental.
Aside from legislation, McCarthy has largely delivered on his promises to hold President Biden and his administration accountable for their failures and corruption after two years of cover-ups by Democrats and the mainstream media.
McCarthy’s promised COVID-19 panel, for instance, provided clear evidence that Dr. Fauci lied about his knowledge of the lab leak theory. A GOP committee on the border secured an admission from Biden’s border patrol chief that the administration’s policy is to blame for the unprecedented surge in illegal crossings. The committee is also reportedly building an impeachment case against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. McCarthy promised his caucus progress on both of these issues if he was elected speaker, and he has delivered.
McCarthy has also exposed the Democrat-led January 6 Committee as deeply politicized. His decision to release the full surveillance tapes from the Capitol riot to Tucker Carlson – who subsequently showed previously unseen clips undercutting the left’s narrative about the incident – immediately put Democrats on the defensive by forcing them to explain why they opposed the public release of vital information.
This string of successes is something that has eluded many recent GOP speakers, who have often been hamstrung by instability and partisan infighting. The Republican to hold the gavel most recently prior to McCarthy, Paul Ryan, sabotaged his own political career by trying to undermine former President Donald Trump rather than working with him to advance his America First agenda. Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, resigned from both the speakership and Congress, leaving his caucus in a state of disarray. Dennis Hastert’s speakership was similarly chaotic.
Not since Newt Gingrich have Republicans had a truly transformational Speaker of the House. After 40 years in the minority, Gingrich’s “Contract with America” led the GOP to a stunning landslide victory in the 1994 midterms.
McCarthy’s rise to the top of the House Republican caucus and his achievements to date are hardly as dramatic. But as the only Republican in D.C. with any real legislative power, he has at the very least stood and fought for the conservative values of Republican voters, and is systematically making clear why a Republican congressional majority should be re-elected in 2024.
It would be premature to declare McCarthy a success. But he is slowly building a strong resume, one that could become a blueprint for future GOP victories.
B.C. Brutus is the pen name of a writer with previous experience in the legislative and executive branches.
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