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A house divided, a party divided
Author: Raine    Date: 10/08/2015 13:19:16

Yesterday we were informed that Representative Alan Grayson officially filed an Ethics complaint regarding the Benghazi Special Committee.
Florida Democrat Alan Grayson filed an ethics complaint Wednesday against House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., alleging they violated federal law and House rules by using official funds appropriated to the Benghazi Committee to pay political or campaign-related expenses.
“This represents the new McCarthyism — the misuse of [official] funds for political purposes to vilify a political opponent,” Grayson told CQ Roll Call. He said the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Gowdy, is an “effort to embarrass” Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The three-page letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics, obtained by CQ Roll Call, alleges McCarthy revealed the political motivations for the Benghazi Committee in his now infamous Sept. 29 interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Prior to this, Democrats on that panel released details of a previously private interview with one of Ms. Clinton's aides regarding this issue.
The Democratic members of the panel then accused the Republican members of using "a series of selective leaks of inaccurate and incomplete information in an effort to attack Secretary Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations."

In particular, the letter claims that the committee unfairly portrayed its private interview with former Clinton staffer Cheryl Mills by demanding that the interview be treated as classified information and then leaking parts of the interview to the press. The Democratic members included previously unreported excerpts of the interview with Mills in the letter, and they told Gowdy that the State Department and Mills' lawyers have five days to identify parts of the interview that should remain private before making the entire transcript public.
Other Dems are making it clear that the potential Speaker of the House had admitted that the GOP is using these panels for campaigning against a potential Democratic nominee is wrong, unethical and a waste of money.
Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, the top Democrat on the powerful House Rules Committee, on Tuesday introduced an amendment to abolish the Benghazi committee, attempting to sub the measure in for language that would launch a similar effort to investigate Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by Republicans following the release of edited undercover sting videos alleging the group engages in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.
"Using official resources for campaign purposes is a clear violation of the rules of the House and federal law and is a clear and undeniable abuse of official staff time, resources and attention," Slaughter said in a statement, making it clear she meant to lump a Planned Parenthood committee under the same politicized umbrella as Benghazi.

"Rep. McCarthy's statements make it clear that the majority uses select committees for politics, not for governance, and we must put an end to that abuse," she said.

Slaughter's amendment failed 7-2.

In case you missed it, the Republicans are going to form a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood. I hope they put the other contender for the Speaker's job - Jason Chaffitz - as the head of that panel.

Kevin McCarthy is adamant that what he said was simply a gaffe and that we all should stop 'Playing Politics'... the tone deafness is thick with this one, my friend.

All of this is going to comes to a head because the reality is that Speaker Boehner will be leaving the House in a few short weeks, and a new speaker will be chosen. The questions remains, who will it be?

Perhaps this is the answer.
House Republicans are in a bit of a bind. A majority of the caucus will very likely vote on Thursday to nominate Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as the next speaker. But being elected speaker of the House requires an absolute majority of the chamber, not just of the majority party. Usually, once the majority caucus has chosen a candidate, the members of that party line up (nearly) unanimously behind that candidate. But Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah (so far as I know, no relation) is challenging McCarthy, counting on support from the roughly 40-member “Freedom Caucus” (though it might prefer the “Tortilla Coast Caucus” these days). Chaffetz has insisted that many members of that group would be unwilling to vote for McCarthy on the floor. In fact, he told the New York Times that McCarthy “can’t get to 218” votes.
It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened: In 1856, in the tumult leading up to the Civil War, it took two months and 133 ballots to elect Nathaniel Banks as speaker. In 1923, it took nine ballots over two days for anyone to get a majority, and for a familiar-sounding reason: The Republican Party was split—back then, between progressives and more conservative “regulars.” The progressive members refused to support the Republican conference nominee for speaker, Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts, on the floor. In exchange for finally agreeing to support Gillett, the progressives extracted a promise that legislation that the regulars had kept bottled up in committee would be brought to the House floor for a vote.

The fight over Gillett was an intra-party fight, but maybe Democrats should take a page from the progressive Republicans’ playbook. Or, to put it differently, maybe Democrats should come to McCarthy’s rescue. That might sound a bit crazy, but bear with me. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should offer McCarthy a deal: Democrats would provide the votes necessary to make him speaker and keep him in the chair for the remainder of the 114th Congress. In exchange, McCarthy would commit to bringing certain specified bills to the floor for a vote—the list might include a clean debt-ceiling increase through 2017 (or even an abolition of the debt ceiling entirely), a continuing resolution funding the government at last year’s levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, something like the immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013, and more. The details would have to be carefully negotiated (and other members of the leadership, perhaps starting with Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions, would have to be brought on board), but there are no insurmountable practical considerations preventing such a deal.

In essence, this deal would make House Democrats the junior partners in a coalition government of the chamber. It certainly wouldn’t be as nice as controlling the House, but it would be an improvement over their current position. Getting their high-priority bills to the floor would be a win-win: if the bills pass, they score a policy win, and if they fail, they’ve got Republicans on record, once again, voting against popular measures. Moreover, Democrats could publicly present their willingness to support a Republican speaker as an act of patriotic statesmanship, a willingness to put governing the country ahead of partisan advantage, and a reason to trust them with a majority in the 2016 elections.

One thing is for sure: someone is going to need the house Minority Leader's help... again. The GOP House, with all of the majority that they have, still needs the minority to get basic governance done. I have a feeling that one of those things McCarthy needs to get the job he so badly wants might be to agree to end to the Benghazi hearings and prevent the PP hearings.

This is how politics works. :)

49 comments (Latest Comment: 10/08/2015 23:44:54 by Scoopster)
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