House Democrats are having little success in getting the Washington, D.C., press corps to understand that it is not the Democrats’ job to make Republicans stop hitting themselves, even as those battered Republicans spit on the idea of bipartisanship. What Democrats have been successful at, though, is a unified message. When the Republicans are ready to ask for help, it will be there—for a price.
A two-pronged strategy for Democrats seems to be taking shape, Axios reports, starting with them reaching out to Rep. Patrick McHenry, the temporary speaker, from a group of four moderate Democrats from the Problem Solvers Caucus. They sent a letter to McHenry offering to assist in a vote to “expand the Speaker Pro Tempore’s authorities” to deal with urgent priorities, such as Israel and Ukrainian aid and government funding. They would agree to empowering McHenry in 15-day increments in return for votes on those priorities.
Democratic leadership isn’t involved in the outreach, but seems to be fine with it. Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan told Axios that there is that “it’s increasingly likely that, at some point, there will have to be a bipartisan agreement.” However, there have to be “some limitations” on what Congress could consider in this interim phase. “Democrats are not interested in just rescuing the Republicans from their own problems and have them go right back to business as usual as it was under McCarthy,” he said.
That plan would buy time for Republicans to come to terms with the idea that repeatedly bashing themselves in the face is not good. That’s where the second prong would come into play: a power-sharing agreement. House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries laid that out in an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday in interjections between host Kristen Welker’s insistent questions like, “Why haven’t formal conversations started yet?” and, “[A]s the Democratic leader of the House, don’t you also bear a responsibility to try to bring this stalemate to an end?”
Jeffries stuck to the point: Republicans, he said, can “either double or triple down on the chaos, dysfunction, and extremism. Or, let’s have a real conversation about changing the rules of the House so it can work in the best interests of the American people.”
Any exchange with Republicans would require that the rules be changed “to ensure that votes are taken on bills that have substantial Democratic support and substantial Republican support so that the extremists aren’t able to dictate the agenda,” he said. “We can change the rules to facilitate bipartisanship and that should be the starting point of our conversation.”
Kildee put his finger on the problem in that Axios interview. “The question is, how far are the Republicans … going to go along with this pattern before we start serious conversations?” Apparently pretty far.
Possibly as far as letting MAGA insurrectionist Rep. Jim Jordan steamroll them. According to Punchbowl News, the supposed leader of the Jordan opposition was Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, who caved Monday morning in a tweet thread. That could signal the collapse of the resistance.
A Jordan speakership would guarantee that all those supposed “moderates” in the House Republican conference have to take some potentially career-ending votes in the next year. It would mean they’ve been roped into being an arm of the Trump 2024 campaign. It would mean more chaos and more dysfunction because that’s all Jordan knows how to do.
There’s a perfectly reasonable alternative out there for them, though. All they have to do is put country over party and work with the Democrats.