'Feeding the base': Why the GOP House majority will be the 'least productive Congress' in 'modern US History'
When the new Congress is seated on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, life for President Joe Biden will become easier in some respects but more challenging in others. On one hand, Biden will have a slightly larger Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate — which will make it easier for his nominees (either federal judicial nominees or nominees for his administration) to be approved.
On the other hand, Biden will be at a disadvantage from a legislative standpoint when the new Republican majority is seated in the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be a small single-digit majority, not the 40-seat or 50-seat majority far-right pundits at Fox News and Fox Business were predicting. But it will be enough of a majority to sink Democrat-sponsored bills that Biden would like. The days of Biden, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer being able to work together to get ambitious legislation passed are over.
In an article published by The New Republic on January 3, journalist Michael Tomasky warns that nothing productive or beneficial will come from the GOP majority that is taking over the House. Instead, Tomasky predicts a lot of chaos and empty political theatrics from “far-right” MAGA Republicans, conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump loyalists.
“The 118th Congress will be fundamentally ruled by the far-right radicals in the Republican caucus, on virtually every matter, from how to ‘address’ — yep, those are irony quotes — inflation to using their pulpits to try to terrify white Americans about the Black youths in their cities and the brown people at the border, to the impeachment of Biden Administration officials and, it seems likely to me, Joe Biden himself,” Tomasky predicts. “And on top of that, to fill the ‘Star Trek’ parallel universe slot, there’s the select committee they’re supposedly setting up to investigate the Deep State. In sum, this will be the least productive Congress in the modern history of the country.”
When Republicans enjoyed a major red wave in the 1994 midterms and then-Rep. Newt Gingrich became House speaker in 1995, the combative Gingrich set out to make life as possible for then-President Bill Clinton. Eventually, after learning that Clinton had an extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Gingrich pushed for his impeachment; Clinton was acquitted in an impeachment trial in the Senate. Gingrich, ironically, was having an extramarital affair himself while raging at Clinton for committing adultery.
Tomasky is not a Gingrich fan, but he argues that “at least Newt Gingrich had an agenda in 1995” — unlike the Republican House majority being seated on January 3.
“The Contract With America wasn’t to my taste, but you couldn’t deny that it did have some policy substance,” Tomasky recalls. “It featured 10 pieces of legislation that focused on the usual conservative priorities but at least gestured here and there toward trying to assist, for example, senior citizens who were being penalized for wanting to stay in the workforce. By contrast, here are the first few bills these Republicans want to pass, as announced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise last week.”
Tomasky goes on to note some of the “theatrics” the new GOP majority of 2023 has in mind.
“First,” Tomasky writes, “they’ll rescind the increased Internal Revenue Service funding the Democrats passed in the last Congress…. Another high priority is an abortion-related bill that has been kicking around for years and that would subject medical professionals to possible criminal penalties for failing to care for an infant who survives an abortion attempt…. There are, as you’d expect, a couple bills aimed at the current situation at the border…. These are examples of futile, mostly demagogic legislation that won’t pass the Senate anyway and wouldn’t earn Biden’s signature if, for some reason, any of these weird ideas landed on his desk.”
Tomasky continues, “But for these Republicans, passing the facsimile of substantive legislation isn’t the point. Hunter Biden is the point. Alexander Mayorkas is the point, along with other cabinet officials, especially the ones with future presidential ambitions. And finally, Joe Biden is the point. Republicans reside in a fortified bubble where most of them give and receive information on various right-wing media outlets and home-district dead-enders high enough on the same supply that they believe, as Ginni Thomas does, that the Bidens aren’t mere political opponents with ideas that are up for a debate, but a literal crime family.”
Tomasky predicts a steady diet of “trolling the libs and feeding the base” as well as “right-wing purity tests.”
“Donald Trump’s power within the GOP might be ebbing, and some of the losing MAGA candidates last November actually acknowledged their defeats,” Tomasky observes. “But any notion that the Republican Party is becoming less extreme is naïve in the, well, extreme.”
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