Published September 23, 2023
Ultra-MAGA obstructionists once again humiliated House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week, defeating a rule to move the defense appropriations bill forward. The GOP defectors are surely chortling over their ability to control the chamber, albeit to no apparent end.
Enough is enough. McCarthy has not used the full power of his office to bring the nihilist rebels to heel, nor has he tried to marshal his colleagues’ anger and frustration at these recalcitrant children. He should move to change House Republican rules to hit them where it hurts: their reelection prospects.
Current rules prevent McCarthy from doing that. They provide conference membership to all elected Republicans. Members can be expelled from the conference only by a two-thirds vote of members, and those proceedings must “follow the rules of the House of Representatives, as nearly as practicable.” This effectively means that die-hard members can flout the speaker’s will without consequence.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He was the Thomas W. Smith distinguished scholar in residence at Arizona State University for the winter/spring 2023 semester.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.