While you were watching the Denver Nuggets dismantle the Miami Heat on Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the U.S. Senate approved a measure to raise the debt ceiling and avoid economic catastrophe. President Biden is expected to sign the bill today and deliver remarks from the White House at 5:00 pm (Mountain Time).
Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have been disastrous for the United States and would likely have caused a worldwide recession, but Republican opponents of the deal are still sad about not getting enough spending cuts from their hostage-taking efforts.
We noted yesterday that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was kinda sorta calling for a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the aftermath of the House vote. The Hill newspaper summed up Buck’s weakness in just two sentences:
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “should be concerned” about a motion to remove him after the debt ceiling deal he struck with President Biden moves through Congress.
McCarthy has said he is “not at all” concerned about being removed from his position following the conservative backlash to the debt agreement.
As a result of one of the deals that McCarthy made with MAGA Republicans in January when he spent four agonizing and embarrassing days trying to win the Speaker’s gavel, any one Member of Congress could call a “motion to vacate” and force a vote for a new Speaker. Of course, the next step would require there to be enough votes to actually oust McCarthy, and that’s where fantasy turns into sad reality for Buck and his “House Freedom Caucus” friends. Last weekend, in fact, fellow Freedumb Caucus member Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) and her buddy from Florida, Rep. Matt Gaetz, were gabbing on Twitter Spaces when Gaetz acknowledged that MAGA Republicans don’t have the votes to do anything other than vaguely threaten McCarthy.
As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, this puts Boebert, Buck, and friends in a weird spot:
Even as the House Freedom Caucus assembled for 45 minutes to denounce the deal Tuesday and a protester behind them displayed a sign labeling McCarthy a “traitor,” McCarthy was largely spared the vitriol. When it was her turn to speak, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) even conceded, “I think McCarthy did the best that he could do to some extent with this deal. … McCarthy did his job, but unfortunately, Biden and the Democrat-controlled Senate did not do theirs.”…
…Forcing a vote would then be a recipe for failure — a failure that could actually strengthen McCarthy’s position within the conference. Even if Freedom Caucus types were more talk than walk, that would send a message about McCarthy’s standing. [Pols emphasis]
And then there’s the question of what the Freedom Caucus would even get out of it. Their protestations notwithstanding, GOP strategist Liam Donovan suggests that it’s not much.
“The question for these guys is how and why a future speaker would be any better for them when the one who was exceedingly accommodating got no quarter,” Donovan said. He added that the Freedom Caucus needs to decide whether “their disappointment is worth blowing up what has been a pretty effective arrangement for them to date.”
Thus far, despite the Freedom Caucus’s demonstrated affinity for blowing things up to make a point, the answer appears to be no.
In other words, Boebert, Buck and the Freedumb Caucus now have a choice between A) Bad, and B) Worse.
If the Freedom Caucus doesn’t try to oust McCarthy after getting steamrolled on the debt limit deal, they’ll look even weaker than they do now.
If the Freedom Caucus does try to oust McCarthy, they’ll almost certainly fail…which will make them look even weaker than they do now.
But as bad as this situation is for MAGA Republicans, it’s even worse for Boebert. We noted earlier this week that Boebert had two bad options on the debt ceiling debate, but then she surprised us and figured out a third — and even worse — direction. Boebert DIDN’T EVEN CAST A VOTE on the biggest issue of 2023, drawing the ire of her colleagues in Colorado after weeks of empty rhetoric.
Boebert’s inaction has now made her whereabouts on Wednesday a story in itself:
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) June 1, 2023
Where was Boebert when she missed the debt limit vote? Why is her office so reluctant to offer any details about what Boebert was doing instead? By refusing to provide details, Boebert has turned her absence into a new lead for reporters to chase.
Voters in the third congressional district already think that Boebert cares more about social media and defending Donald Trump than she does about doing her actual job in Congress. By missing the most important vote of the year, Boebert handed Democrats the perfect example to bring the message home. And if it turns out that Boebert was doing something she shouldn’t have been doing (when she SHOULD have been casting a vote), things are going to get a whole lot worse for the Rifle Republican.
This is how a Republican incumbent pisses away a seat in an otherwise safe Republican district.