As of press time, the new Republican majority in the U.S. House failed to agree on a speaker. Former minority leader Republican Kevin McCarthy did not get the required votes needed for speaker after a fifth try and counting.
The inability to get a quick consensus on speaker forbodes stalemates could be far more common than any previous Congress. The fractionalized Republican party – die-hard Trumpers, the Freedom caucus ultra conservatives, moderate Republicans, self-promoting “fluid” idealogues – needs a leader to bring the party together.
Whether McCarthy prevails and becomes speaker, it’s doubtful that he is that leader the Republican party needs and most likely will be plagued with dissent repeatedly.
Perhaps even more disturbing is McCarthy’s appeal (groveling) to Trump after the third round of votes which signals weakness. And weakness not just on McCarthy himself, but on Trump, because the next rounds of voting did not change any after Trump stepped in attempting to be the broker to unite the party.
Clearly, Trump has lost a grip on the Republican party, as his shine also dulled among conservative media that essentially substituted him for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after the national midterm bust.
What can we expect of the new Congress?
Fast forward and let’s assume Republicans got their speaker (whoever he or she is), what can we expect or hope for in a Republican-led Congress?
First, many Republican U.S. Reps. have already expressed support for various investigations – from looking into Hunter Biden to the origins of COVID-19 to investigating former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Investigations to nowhere, possibly attempt impeachment
Fruitless investigations are not the path to rebuilding a healthy Republican party. This will not win over independents who they’ll need in the future and will only serve to disenfranchise the party. We also know that Trump wants the House to investigate and investigate as he feels he was unfairly targeted. In his own words, the target of a “witch hunt” or in his case multiple “witch hunts.”Based on whatever their findings are in their investigations, there could also be attempts to impeach President Joe Biden, a tit for tat move that would be a longshot. But nevertheless, attempted. How do we know this? Some U.S. Reps already said so, bluntly and plainly that they’ll try to do this. Secondly, why else would they be investigating Hunter Biden?
Promote conservative agenda
We can also look to Republican trendsetters Texas and Florida state legislatures to get a preview of what the U.S. House will set as agenda. The conservative agenda in the Bush years used to be adopting mandatory prayers in school and protecting the desecration of the U.S. flag on the “symbolic” level. On the more substantive level, overturning Roe and outlawing abortion nationally were top priorities.
Today, Roe has already been overturned and states have the power to determine the conditions from which abortions could be legal or outright banned completely. Will Republican House members attempt a national ban on abortion? Most likely, no. Such legislation would be dead on arrival (DOA) in the U.S. Senate where Democrats still holds a majority. Further, the results of the midterm elections – that had many women voting against the Republican party over Roe’s overturn – is fear enough to deter attempts at expanding abortions nationally. The “symbolic” promotion of today’s conservative agenda will be attempts to legislate against “critical race theory” and “gender ideology” as what’s been done in Florida. But again, we’re looking at DOA in the Senate.
Where progress could be made, border reform
The area of optimism where Republican House members could get traction and hopefully broker deals with Democrats is legislation to improve the country’s border security. The latest migrant surge due to the possibility of Title 42 (that allows immigration authorities at the border to quickly expel migrants and deny entry to asylum seekers over health concerns) ending brought in tens of thousands of migrants from as far as South America to the border. The visuals were startling. Democrat mayors from New York City to Chicago and El Paso all called on the Federal government for assistance and financial aid to support the massive migrant influx. The takeaway is that even Democrat lawmakers will be pressured to beef up border security.
Ideally, comprehensive immigration reform should be worked on which has been ignored for decades. We hope that Republicans and Democrats will come up with a comprehensive package and insert border security items in it. This would be the best, long-term solution.
However, the more politically realistic approach is to address border security outside of the gigantic umbrella of comprehensive immigration reform. It’s doubtful that Republicans would want to give Biden credit for such a grand achievement of getting comprehensive immigration reform done, even if it would be best for the country.
Besides increase funding for CPB and ICE, lawmakers should work out conditions for entry of migrants.
We know most migrants (about 40%) will not qualify for asylum after their court hearing. So why encourage migrants to risk life and limb to trek all that way to the border to be eventually denied after gaining entry. Technology already is capable for a prescreening process that would grant only serious, legitimate candidates for asylum to come to the border. This would prevent the massive influx of migrants we’ve been seeing who actually believe that being allowed to cross into the U.S. is the final acceptance, which we know it is not.
Do what’s best for the country
Republicans’ slim win of the House could be very productive. They can achieve at least some of their priorities they’ve been talking about for decades, namely reforming immigration. They just need to work with Democrats, compromise, and do what’s best for the country.