'Powerless' Kevin McCarthy held hostage by 'far-right bomb throwers' as shutdown looms

'Powerless' Kevin McCarthy held hostage by 'far-right bomb throwers' as shutdown looms
Rep. Kevin McCarthy in 2021 (Creative Commons)

Earlier this year, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and President Joe Biden worked out a bipartisan debt ceiling agreement that passed in both houses of Congress and saved the United States from defaulting on its debt obligations.

But some far-right members of the House Freedom Caucus were furious with McCarthy for reaching a compromise with Biden. Now, months later, members of Congress are grappling with another economic problem: the possibility of a government shutdown.

In a biting article published on September 18, The New Republic's Alex Shephard emphasizes that McCarthy has lost control of his caucus. And a shutdown, Shephard warns, appears likely.

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McCarthy's willingness to cater to extremists, Shephard observes, is evident in his decision to "back a baseless, ridiculous impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden."

"McCarthy's reign has been defined almost totally by one dynamic: He is completely in thrall to a gaggle of right-wing bomb-throwers who know they can end his time leading the House of Representatives whenever they want," Shephard observes. "McCarthy has to keep them happy. To get anything, he has to do what they want, even if it's stupid and self-defeating. Hence the impeachment inquiry."

McCarthy went along with the inquiry, Shephard argues, hoping to "get his caucus in line at a critical juncture."

"The government will shut down on September 30 if Congress doesn't pass a series of appropriations bills, which Biden then signs," Shephard notes. "This should have been relatively easy. The government funding deal struck by McCarthy and Biden in the spring was designed to make it easy. It hasn't been. Instead, McCarthy is — again — presiding over a circus: House Republican fecklessness and incompetence is reaching absurd levels."

READ MORE:Eric Cantor has some tough advice for Kevin McCarthy

Shephard isn't optimistic about the possibility of a shutdown being avoided.

"McCarthy is powerless," the journalist warns. "The GOP's far-right flank holds nearly all the power, and they're using it to launch pointless investigations and make demands for draconian cuts. With less than two weeks to go until the government shuts down, it's hard to see anything changing."

READ MORE:Kevin McCarthy's job is far more imperiled than Joe Biden's

The New Republic's full article is available at this link.

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