LOS ANGELES - This week, history made on Capitol Hill, in more ways than one.
Tuesday, the 118th Congress convened in Washington, D.C.. The first order of business? Elect a Speaker of the House, presumably House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Four days, and fifteen rounds of voting later, during which time anti-McCarthy holdouts cast their votes for the likes of Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and even former President Donald Trump, McCarthy finally was handed the gavel.
McCarthy, who has represented Bakersfield in the House since 2007, is now the second consecutive House Speaker from California, following in the footsteps of Nancy Pelosi.
Amid the historic stalemate, California Congressman Mike Garcia stopped by "The Issue Is" to take Elex Michaelson behind-the-scenes of the chaos, the negotiations, and the crucial rule changes that ultimately sealed the deal for Speaker McCarthy.
Also offering their thoughts on the Speaker fight, as well as this week’s swearing-in of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot, are Democratic strategist Brian Goldsmith and Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak.
THE ISSUE IS: THE CHAOTIC BATTLE FOR HOUSE SPEAKER
REP. GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Honestly, it's a continuation of everything I've seen. You know, I came in in the middle of 2020, right in the middle of COVID, the pandemic and the last two-and-a-half years has been pretty tumultuous. So this is just a continuation of that. It's been it's been a little frustrating, I'm not going to lie, this isn't the ideal way to go about, you know, electing the next Speaker of the House when you just get the majority back...
"t took a little longer probably than most elections for Speaker of the House, but you know what, Elex, what we did in that time frame was negotiate our rules package - and a lot of folks don't really know what goes into these rules, but these rules are really the way that we make sure that we prevent things like out of control spending and out of control legislating, these are rules that allow us, when we submit a bill that it only addresses one issue at a time, or that when we vote on something, we're only voting on one bill at a time so that we don't have these giant omnibuses, or, you know, a health care bill that's hooked to the renaming of a post office bill or something like that…
"I'm just glad that we will get this as Speaker of the House election under our belt moving forward, and it's a thin majority and this is what happens when you don't have, you know, these massive majorities, everything is a negotiation, but in this case, I think this is better for the country in the end…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE DRIVING FACTORS OF THE GOP SPEAKER VOTE REBELLION
POLLAK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I should state upfront that I don't agree with the rebels, but let me put their argument as best I can. They're frustrated with the party establishment, they're frustrated with Washington, they don't trust the Republican Party leadership, and they're really angry about the omnibus spending bill that passed last year in the closing weeks, and this is how they're expressing it. They feel nobody listens to them, there's no debate unless they stage some kind of rebellion or revolt. Now, I would argue this is the wrong address for that rebellion. There is the Senate where the Republican minority has been quite willing to go along with the Democratic majority and where the Republican caucus failed or declined to change their leadership just a few weeks ago. So that's where, quote unquote, the establishment is strongest. This new Republican House majority is not really an establishment majority, yes, Kevin McCarthy has been there for a while, but this is a more conservative caucus. So they're really picking a fight with the leadership just to pick a fight. There aren't any policy or ideological differences between the mainstream of the Republican Party and this faction - this is largely about personalities. And if you want to be charitable, it's about a general sense of frustration with Republican leaders…"
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, some say this is about spending. It's clearly not about spending because they were perfectly comfortable with Donald Trump's record-breaking spending. Some say that it it isn't personal, but it clearly is personal because, you know, it's about their perception of Kevin McCarthy's effectiveness or not or ineffectiveness as a leader. I think what it shows is that the entertainment wing of the party that is much more focused on clicks and hits and profiting from conflict in Washington is really in the driver's seat in the modern Republican Party…."
THE ISSUE IS: THE HOUSE GOP’S ABILITY TO GOVERN FOLLOWING A HISTORIC SPEAKER FIGHT
REP. GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's going to be difficult, no doubt, and so this is why it is important to have a team that unifies... we haven't seen the final rules package as of this moment, but one of the rules is to allow just one person to vote to bring to a vote a motion to vacate the chair, which is the removal of the Speaker of the House. So this rule is like Kevin McCarthy dousing himself in fuel and then handing out 435 matches, and, you know, it's going to be tough. And Matt Gaetz uses the metaphor that this is a straitjacket, I don't think it's that restrictive, but, in the end, we need to be led by leaders who have pure and selfless intent, and we need a majority that governs in the same way. I think we're going to be successful, but there's going to be some drama mixed in here once in a while, just like all families have…"
POLLAK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's always going to be challenging when you only control one house of Congress to get anything done because the Democrats control the Senate, so it's not as if the Republicans can stand up to President Biden's agenda as a whole, but now it's become much more difficult because McCarthy knows he can only lose one or two votes on any issue and he will not be able to guide the House majority. The rebels have made it much more difficult for Republicans to govern, they have weakened the Republican caucus in Washington and the Democrats are sitting back and enjoying the show because not only are they frustrating Kevin McCarthy's legislative agenda, but they're sending a message to voters - both parties are telling voters - Republicans are not serious about governing…"
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "You know, it is amusing for Democrats to watch Republicans in a circular firing squad, but there are things that they have to do for the country. They have to raise the debt ceiling. They have to fund the government. They have to keep America running in the eyes of the world. And I have profound doubts that they're going to be able to accomplish anything…"
THE ISSUE IS: BIDEN’S PLANNED TRIP TO THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
REP. GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I've been to the places he's going to now a couple of times, and I'll tell you what he is actually going to see. He's going to see Border Patrol facilities that are absolutely inundated with illegal immigrants. He's going to see Border Patrol agents that are spending more time processing these folks and, in some cases, sending them through the airports. He's going to see a humanitarian crises that, frankly, brought me to tears when I saw it…
"I was in a facility outside of El Paso, just three miles north of the border where I saw a five-year-old little girl, unescorted, and she was escorting her two-year-old little brother. I spoke to her in Spanish - she didn't speak a lick of English - and I asked her her situation and she said that her family dropped her off with the cartels, the cartel dropped her off at the border, Border Patrol agents rescued her just on our side of the border, and she's been in this facility, she doesn't know what she's doing, she doesn't know where she's going or who's picking her up, and it was heart wrenching. I literally was brought to tears, and it was probably one of the most powerful experiences in this office that I've seen…I hope he doesn't see the political side of this, that this isn't a political thing, this is a humanitarian crisis…."
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.