Inside the race for Mike Johnson’s old job
The race to succeed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) after he was ousted from the speakership in October consumed three weeks and nearly tore the House Republican conference apart.
The race to fill the job that newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) vacated — vice chair of the Republican conference — is a much sleepier affair.
Seven Republican lawmakers — Reps. Mark Alford (Mo.), Stephanie I. Bice (Okla.), Mike Collins (Ga.), Michelle Fischbach (Minn.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.), Brian Mast (Fla.) and Beth Van Duyne (Tex.) — have said they are running for Johnson’s old job ahead of today’s filing deadline.
Vice chair is considered the No. 6 slot in the House Republican leadership hierarchy. The role is thought to be related to messaging, although its exact responsibilities are hazy.
“I would call it a ‘make of it what you will’ position,” Mast said. “There has never been a clearly defined boundary for exactly what it is.”
Four of the seven Republicans running are women — a striking difference from the race for House speaker, which drew 14 men but no women.
Van Duyne declined to run for speaker despite encouragement from former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Bice suggested last week as Republicans struggled in a late-night, closed-door meeting to select a fourth speaker nominee that the drawn-out fight over the role had done little to attract female candidates.
- “Kat and I have both supported every speaker designate that has been put up, but at the end of the day we can’t get there,” Bice told reporters, referring to Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), who was standing next to her. “And this is an exercise in futility, in my opinion. So why would any of the women want to put ourselves out there, only to fail? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
The drought of women seeking the speakership came after McCarthy and other Republicans worked hard in recent years to recruit and elect more women, minorities and veterans. There are 33 Republican women in the House, up from only 13 three years ago.
McCarthy told reporters last week that he was flummoxed why none of them ran for speaker.
“I think a number of them would make great speakers, and I believe in the future they will,” he said.
The top woman in the Republican hierarchy is Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), who is conference chair and the No. 4 House Republican.
While no Republican woman has served as House speaker, majority leader, minority leader or whip, there’s a long history of women serving as vice chair.
Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.) was elected vice chair in 1984, becoming the first woman elected to Republican leadership. Seven of the dozen Republican vice chairs since Martin have been women, although the most recent three were men.
While several vice chairs have ascended to conference chair, the role wasn’t a path to becoming speaker — or majority leader or whip — until Johnson’s election. One former House Republican said it probably wouldn’t be in the future, either.
“The path for any Republican woman who wants to be a leader is run for governor or Senate,” the former lawmaker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about House Republican dynamics.
What they’re running on
Several of the Republicans running for vice chair said adding more women to the leadership ranks hasn’t really come up in the race.
Malliotakis, who beat Democratic Rep. Max Rose in 2020, emphasized her experience representing a district that includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn that former president Donald Trump carried by less than eight points in 2020.
- “I am surrounded by Democrats: I’ve got Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, Jerry Nadler, [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], all in my media market,” Malliotakis said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and the two other House Democrats. “And I’ve played an important role in being the counter-voice and sharing the counterview to what they’re saying.”
Mast wants Republicans to take a less-scripted approach to communicating with voters.
- “I’d like to see the conference be a little bit more candid and impromptu,” Mast said. “Maybe bring some of the handheld cameras down to the floor, get people’s reactions [during] key votes.”
Van Duyne has emphasized her story as “a homeless teen who paid my own way through college” before becoming mayor of Irving, Tex., and winning a seat in Congress, as she wrote in a letter to colleagues last week.
Alford is leaning on his decades as a TV reporter before he was elected last year, which he said would allow him to help Republicans reach a broader audience.
- “I want to diversify our message,” Alford said. “We have to be cognizant that not everyone is in an R+25 district like I am.”
And Collins is citing the memes he circulated during the speaker fight as evidence that he can help Republicans “communicate directly, simply and genuinely with modern tactics,” as he put it in a letter to colleagues on Monday that included a Batman meme.
A different view of diversity
Many Republican lawmakers pride themselves on emphasizing merit over gender, race or ethnicity. Republicans criticized President Biden last year for pledging to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, and Mast said a similar dynamic plays out in leadership races.
“Whenever that kind of thing is ever brought up behind closed doors relating to somebody’s profile, a number of people in the conference will step up and say, ‘Absolutely not. That is not what we’re about,’” Mast said.
Van Duyne said it was unsurprising that none of the women running for vice chair — all of whom were first elected in 2020 — sought the speakership.
“We’re sophomores,” Van Duyne said. “This is our third year in Congress. I think in order to run for speaker you need to have a thorough understanding of [Congress] and a more thorough network.”
(Still, lack of experience did not prevent Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who was also elected in 2020, from running for speaker. Donalds came in third to Johnson and McCarthy — who wasn’t running but garnered 43 write-in votes — in the final round of balloting.)
And Fischbach, who was the first woman in either party to serve as president of the Minnesota Senate, noted that Stefanik is in leadership and that three House committee chairs are women.
Republican women “are in leadership roles,” Fischbach said. “Maybe not speaker — but soon enough, I’m sure.”
We are watching to see whether the resolution to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) will be voted on today. If it is, we’ll be watching whether it obtains the necessary two-thirds support to kick Santos out of the House.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), and backed by several of Santos’s fellow New York Republicans, could make Santos the sixth member expelled by the House in history, and the first to be ousted without being convicted of a crime, our colleague Marianna Sotomayor reports.
Republicans have been weighing the precedent-setting nature of an expulsion vote against Santos’s conduct. He has been indicted on 23 counts and has pleaded not guilty.
The House also could vote on two censure resolutions today:
- One of them, from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), would censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for “antisemitic activity.”
- The other, from Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), would censure Greene for “racism, antisemitism, hate speech against the LGBTQ community, Islamophobia, Asian hate, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred.”
Biden is heading to Northfield, Minn., where he will tour a family farm today and talk about how “Bidenomics” benefits rural America.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join him. Biden is also deploying much of his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming to highlight the administration’s commitment to rural areas.
Biden will headline a fundraiser in Minneapolis this evening before heading back to the White House.
Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump’s oldest child, is set to appear in a Manhattan courtroom today in the $250 million civil fraud trial over the Trump Organization’s business practices.
Trump Jr. is a co-defendant in the case and is likely to “face questions on the stand about whether they knew of or participated in efforts to pump up the value of company properties on financial statements,” per our colleagues Jonathan O’Connell, Josh Dawsey, Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Arnsdorf.
Today is the final day of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting. Central bankers are “poised to leave interest rates unchanged Wednesday, as policymakers grapple with how much more pressure to keep on an economy that has largely shrugged off the central bank’s moves to slow it down,” per our colleague Rachel Siegel.
“Central bankers will release a policy statement at 2 p.m. Eastern time, at the conclusion of their two-day policy meeting. Then at 2:30 p.m., Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell will appear at a news conference, where he’ll probably get questions on the outlook for inflation, economic growth and, crucially, where Fed policy goes from here.”
NEWS: New bill attempts to address unaccompanied-minor backlog
The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border continues to rise, and the United States has struggled to address the issue.
New bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced today would attempt to better attend to the backlog of unaccompanied minors in the immigration system who are waiting for court hearings.
The legislation, co-authored by Sens. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Reps. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), Hillary J. Scholten (D-Mich.) and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.), would create “children’s courts” dedicated to hearing the cases of children.
More than 128,000 unaccompanied children were transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services in 2022, according to the agency. More than 62,000 unaccompanied children are awaiting court cases, and the children’s courts would be tailored to address the needs of children who crossed the border alone, while also relieving the backlog of the immigration system.
The children would appear before judges with training in child trafficking and trauma. The courts would provide resources to help the children understand the proceedings and work closely with legal aid organizations.
“This bipartisan, pragmatic legislation demonstrates that we can find common ground and repair our broken immigration system to uphold the rule of law and honor our country’s heritage,” Bennet said in a statement to The Early.
The chances for passage, however, are unclear, despite the bill being bipartisan and bicameral. Separate discussions are ongoing about how to address border security in an emergency supplemental package to provide aid to Ukraine and Israel.
NEWS: Absent action, House Democrats announce roundtable on gun violence
In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting — this time in Lewiston, Maine, where 18 people were killed — changes to federal gun laws are unlikely, especially with a Republican-controlled House and a new speaker who is an enthusiastic proponent of gun access.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, however, plan to hold a roundtable on gun violence later this month to hear from people impacted by gun violence and from people who are looking for ways to reduce gun violence.
The roundtable will be led by Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, and Reps. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.). Moskowitz’s district includes Parkland, where 17 people were killed in a 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We no longer need moments of silence, we need moments of action,” Moskowitz said.
Democrats are eyeing Nov. 13 for the date of the roundtable. It is expected to only include Democrats because of the partisan nature of the issue, but Raskin said Republicans are invited.
“I’m urging Republicans to finally join Democrats in prioritizing American lives over the gun industry’s profits and the NRA’s lies about the meaning of the Second Amendment,” he said in a statement provided to The Early.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who represents Lewiston, switched his position on assault weapons after the massacre and now backs a ban.
- Trump fights loom large for a Supreme Court that has tried to ignore him. By Politico’s Josh Gerstein.
Tuesday’s Halloween costumes 👻
She’s cheer captain
and I’m on the bleachers
Brb, having covid flashbacks
Will the real John Fetterman please stand up?
The geopolitical implications this costume has …