Opportunity sometimes knocks twice. House Democrats missed a historic opportunity when they voted to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker — they could have kept him in his seat in exchange for introducing House rules that encouraged the regime bipartisan.
As the House descends into chaos, Democrats may have a second chance.
Kevin McCarthy says he’s open to being Speaker again. In fact, there’s nothing he wants more, especially if it means he can escape the grip of the extremist MAGA faction and the House can govern as it should. House Democrats could back him, and if he doesn’t, they could always vote McCarthy out again.
There is precedent that makes such a solution reasonable. This might be a good time to remember that we have resolved our differences across bitter divisions many times in our history:
- In 1787, delegates from small states fiercely opposed any plan to change the equal representation under the Articles of Confederation, while large, populous states demanded proportional representation. They made a compromise: proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate.
- In the run-up to the 1860 Republican convention, three warring candidates sought the presidential nomination. President Lincoln appointed them all to his Cabinet.
- In 1964, a civil rights bill passed the House and faced widespread opposition in the Senate, sparking the longest filibuster in Senate history. Democrat Mike Mansfield pleaded with Republican Everett Dirksen to join him in “finding…a solution to this serious national problem,” and they did, passing the landmark Civil Rights Act. turning point.
- Liberals and conservatives set aside bitter divisions over welfare programs and compromise, enacting welfare reform in 1966.
- Bills to limit the food stamp program were introduced in the 1970s, and Democrats opposed them. Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern reached a compromise and the Food Stamp Act became law in 1977.
- The Social Security Act of 1935 was perhaps the most polarizing piece of legislation in Congressional history. In the 1980s, the Social Security Trust Fund was in danger of running a deficit, and measures to maintain solvency met with deep opposition. Senators Patrick Moynihan and Bob Dole worked together to calm partisanship, and Social Security reforms were passed and signed by President Reagan.
- In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act caused division. Republicans say it contains too much and places undue burdens on employers. However, both sides got through it together.
- In 1997, conservatives opposed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as a budget sabotage measure. Sens. Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch worked together and it was passed later that year.
- President Obama’s Cabinet includes two Republicans whose views differ markedly from his own – Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
- Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, angering Democrats who said they favored the wealthy. A bipartisan compromise expanded unemployment benefits and avoided tax increases for the middle class.
- The Jobs Act of 2012 was, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said, “a rare legislative victory where both parties worked together and passed it.” [it] with strong bipartisan support.”
- The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 set discretionary spending levels halfway between what Senate Democrats and House Republicans wanted. Paul Ryan has abandoned his insistence that Democrats agree to reduce entitlement spending in exchange for Republicans agreeing to raise taxes.
- In 2018, Republican senators yielded to President Trump’s desire to undo everything President Obama had accomplished. But Sen. John McCain warned them not to repeal key provisions of Obamacare. Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joined him and the repeal failed.
We have overcome deep partisan divides many times; We can do it again. Admittedly, today’s divide is wider and more intractable than in the past, because the difference is not about policy. They want to maintain power at all costs – even smearing the opposition and lying to voters. There is a lot of damage that needs to be repaired.
The federal government is paralyzed. As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lamented, Congress has not passed a Defense Appropriations Bill since 2010, and cannot even confirm senior military officials, wreaking havoc on our military. us even as we face Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and war in the Middle East.
Once, Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud recalled, “when the world was in danger, they looked to the United States for leadership.” But, he said, “they can’t do that anymore because [America is] too polarized at home and fighting over things that don’t matter.”
Republican demagoguery has incited violence since Trump’s election. Since 2016, threats against members of Congress and federal judges have skyrocketed, 15% of local elected officials were threatened last year, and threats are increasing against with election officials.
That’s a new low and all the more reason to cite our history of political cooperation when it counts. We must stop the slide into dysfunction now. House Democrats could use their votes to reinstate McCarthy as Speaker and help return the House from partisanship and demagoguery to the business of governing.
Neil Baron is an attorney who has represented many organizations involved in international markets and advised various branches of the federal government on economic issues.
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