Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s surprise decision to take a pass on becoming next House speaker sets up a “confrontational” environment, which could lead to another government shutdown fight in December, top political analysts say.
McCarthy’s surprise announcement on Wednesday “is presumably due to the conservative wing of the Republican Party’s failure to unite behind him, believing that McCarthy – Boehner’s top lieutenant – would not be sufficiently different from the current leadership,” Andy Friedman of The Washington Update told ThinkAdvisor in a Friday email.
McCarthy bowing out “suggests that the new speaker likely will be significantly more conservative and confrontational with the White House,” which doesn’t bode well “for reaching agreement on government funding” when the current appropriations run out on Dec. 11. “A shutdown might well be in the offing,” Friedman said.
Indeed, Greg Valliere, who recently left his post as chief political strategist at Potomac Research to become chief global strategist for the global investment management firm Horizon Investments, told ThinkAdvisor in a recent interview that Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen’s goal to raise interest rates in December “could be thwarted” if the government shuts down.
“I’m very apprehensive about December,” Valliere said.
In comments on the House floor Friday afternoon in a debate on adding Republican reconciliation language to the budget bill, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said that it was “absolutely mind boggling that we’re here on this day in this place with this piece of legislation in front of us. We all know that we have a crisis of leadership within the Republican caucus.”
That may “be just a matter of political intrigue to some,” he said, “but the reality is it is causing harm to the country as we speak.”
Van Hollen noted not only the pressing threat of another government shutdown in mid-December, but also that the debt ceiling needs to be addressed to “avoid putting our economy at great risk.”
Another issue to tackle: a transportation authorization bill that “expires within weeks,” Van Hollen said. And yet, he continued, “here we are today, for the 61st time by my count, trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and on top of that, attacking women’s health programs including Planned Parenthood.”
GOP lawmakers held a closed-door meeting Friday morning but were prepared to leave Washington for a week-long recess without a plan on how to elect a new speaker, according to published reports. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said he’s not interested in the position.
McCarthy was the most likely candidate to replace Boehner, ahead of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Daniel Webster, R-Fla. Chaffetz said in comments Friday that “We’ve got to get someone who wants to do it” and that Ryan “is the most qualified.”
— Check out December Rate Hike Could Be Thwarted by Government Shutdown: Valliere on ThinkAdvisor.