House Republican Tim Burchett praised the leadership of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi but admitted “I have my questions” about current incumbent Kevin McCarthy.
During a discussion with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Thursday, Burchett said his friend Pelosi was pretty successful and contrasted this with the present situation, which he branded very disappointing.
Over the past few weeks, the House GOP has descended into something approaching chaos, leading to open questions about the position of McCarthy.
On Thursday, House Republicans failed again to pass a procedural vote to advance a defense spending, usually a formality for the ruling party, with a number of GOP hardliners joining Democrats to vote it down.
With government funding due to run out at the end of the month, Republican rebels are also refusing to support a deal that would prevent a partial shutdown for another month, in exchange for spending cuts of 8 percent to all departments bar defense and veterans’ affairs, and extra emphasis on border security. The holdouts are pushing for further concessions to the Republican right, though any proposal would also have to make its way through the Democratic-controlled Senate.
When asked by Collins whether he still supports McCarthy as speaker, Burchett replied: “I have my questions. I have my doubts right now because I’m seeing. We need leadership, ma’am.
“We don’t need someone just to say we’ve got 218 votes or whatever that jumps on the train after it leaves the station,” Burchett said. “We need some people, Speaker Pelosi, for instance, I’ll give you; you know, I don’t agree with her ever, hardly on anything, but she, she was pretty successful in her [tenure], and the way she did it was she put an issue out amongst her caucus.
“She met with them. She figured out what they wanted. And then they put it on the floor and they passed it. And they rallied around it,” Burchett added. “A lot of work goes into that. We’re not seeing that; I’m not seeing that work right now. And it’s very disappointing to me.”
After Collins described the remarks as a “rare compliment from a Republican for former speaker Pelosi,” Burchett replied: “No, she’s a friend of mine.
“She has a granddaughter named Isabella and I have a daughter named Isabel and my daughter got hurt real bad last year on a horse… and speaker Pelosi is always asking me about her,” Burchett said.
Newsweek has approached Speaker McCarthy and Rep. Burchett for further comment via telephone and voicemail message.
Matt Gaetz is one of a small group of House Republican rebels who attempted to block McCarthy’s election as speaker in January. The Florida representative has threatened to call a vote to remove him from office unless additional concessions are made. As part of the deal that led to McCarthy’s election in January, he agreed that any one House Republican could table a motion to vacate, leading to a formal vote on his leadership.
Thomas Gift, a political scientist who heads the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, told Newsweek McCarthy’s control over the House Republican caucus is fracturing.
Gift said: “Since the day he earned the speaker’s gavel, Kevin McCarthy has been constantly doubling over backwards to keep his unruly caucus together. The real surprise surrounding the imploding discipline among House Republicans isn’t that happening, but why it didn’t happen sooner.
“That McCarthy has been as successful as he has, both in keeping his job title and in inking past deals like averting a debt-ceiling calamity, speaks to his political acumen,”. Gift added. “But there’s only so far a leader can bend without breaking. Increasingly, McCarthy looks like he’s being stretched to his limits by the right flank of his party.”
Speaking in the House last week, Gaetz said that McCarthy would face a motion to vacate unless he moves into immediate, total compliance. Speaking to CNN, he stated that his demands include more robust efforts towards impeachment of President Biden, congressional term limits and balanced budgets.
On September 14, McCarthy reportedly lasted out at critics during a closed GOP meeting, stating: “If you think you scare me because you want to file a motion to vacate, move the f****** motion.”