The idea of Mike Johnson becoming speaker was once completely far-fetched. It appears inept now.
On Tuesday night, the rookie Republican leader endured a tremendous humiliation as the impeachment attempt against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed. Mayorkas was already grappling with a small, extremist, and defective majority.
Rather of meeting the constitutional requirement of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanours, the drama cast doubt on an already dubious case for impeachment based on policy differences.
Additionally, it depicted a house that was completely chaotic.
For the second time in history, it was a bold move to set up a high-stakes, televised spectacle to impeach a Cabinet official. However, the fundamental principle of not bringing a bill to the floor until the numbers are firm was violated when it failed to pass by a few votes.
The leadership of the House became a laughing stock as a consequence of the disaster that ensued.
The White House, which takes pleasure in depicting Johnson’s majority as a vehicle for Trump’s political antics rather than a genuine instrument of governance, benefited from the defeat. Impeachment of President Joe Biden, another politically motivated move to appease the former president, was cast into serious doubt as a result.
Rep. Al Green, who was recovering from surgery and was left without shoes, was brought to the chamber in a wheelchair to make a dramatic vote, summing up the negligence of Johnson’s impeachment squad.
Johnson was likewise unable to pass a separate measure providing Israel with billions of dollars in aid shortly after the impeachment of Mayorkas failed. It was yet another attempt to scuttle the Biden administration that failed. In his disapproval of Johnson’s decision not to hold votes on a more comprehensive package—which would have included assistance for Taiwan and Ukraine—the president had threatened to veto the measure. The speaker criticised Biden and the Democrats, calling them “ashamed” for abandoning a war-torn ally. However, rather than embarrassing Biden, the House floor’s twin failure served to underline his own shortcomings.
Governing becomes impossible
This fractured and furious Congress seems to be collapsing in its ability to rule even at the most fundamental level, which coincided with the House GOP implosion.
Johnson and House Republicans nixed the most conservative proposed immigration law in decades after months of calling for strict reforms to asylum policies to handle an influx of undocumented migrants at the southern border. This was likely due to Trump’s desire to demagogue the issue until November, as he is currently the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
The foundation of constitutional democracy and American government is now in jeopardy.
It was difficult for Democrats to accept the now-dead Senate border agreement crafted by James Lankford, a staunchly conservative senator from Oklahoma. However, Biden’s readiness to execute the deal and the accord’s negotiation were models of proper government operation. The president, who was criticised for not responding to the mayhem at the border and then had to alienate his own coalition in order to resolve a situation that jeopardised his reelection, should have been humiliated and Republicans should have been celebrated.
However, it fell short of the demands of Trump loyalists in the House who are hell-bent on closing the border altogether, regardless of legal immigration. A deal that Congress had passed during Trump’s administration was more conservative than the one Johnson scuttled. After the speaker said the measure would die in his chamber, Senate Republicans realised there was little need in taking a stand against Trump and voting against the measure, hastening its demise.
The speaker detailed his most recent justification for postponing action on the proposal on Tuesday. “Even if we could come up with the most groundbreaking border security legislation ever—approved by both chambers of Congress and sent to the president for signature—we still don’t trust Secretary Mayorkas to actually implement it. The current laws are not enforced by him.
Opponents of an administration often claim that it is not enforcing legislation that Congress has passed. Still, it’s strange for the speaker, the highest-ranking official in the legislature, to say that legislating accomplishes nothing.
The United States’ national security is currently being affected by the House’s malfunction.
With funding to Israel already in the bag, the chances of a Johnson-led House passing a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine and billions more for Taiwan are little to none. This is bad news for two democratic US friends, but it’s good news for Russia and China, two US adversaries who are wagering that the US will lose its superpower status due to internal strife.
The House GOP’s most Trump-supporting members, however, have different priorities.
A group of lawmakers who support Trump—some of whom seem to be trying out for the role of vice president—promoted a resolution that states that Trump did not incite a coup d’état at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when supporters stormed the building and assaulted police officers, telling them to “fight like hell.” This happened while Johnson’s team was bungling the whip count in preparation for the Mayorkas vote.
“I am proud to fight for President Trump and the tens of millions of American patriots who face political persecution,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik stated.
The GOP-controlled House is unable to pass legislation, which poses a threat of a partial government shutdown in the days leading up to the March 1 spending deadline. The current House seems ill-equipped to handle the massive legislative task of properly funding government agencies in just three weeks, despite the fact that the crisis has been repeatedly delayed by a succession of stopgap budget measures. And this is the fundamental material for government. If a major national or worldwide disaster were to occur, like the financial crisis of 2008 or 9/11, the consequences would be unbearable to contemplate.
A possible impeachment of Mayorkas is on the horizon, albeit the effort will be meaningless in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Even though there were a few defections on Tuesday, Republicans expressed confidence that they would have the numbers after Majority Leader Steve Scalise returns from cancer treatment. However, the chaos on Tuesday proves that a House majority controlled by extremists and showboats cannot function. The already disjointed party is getting much more disorganised after it required 15 rounds of voting to choose Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker in 2023 and then dismissed him eight months later for trying to prevent a government shutdown.
The GOP’s shady political manoeuvrings may cost them the election in November. Critical swing districts in places like California and New York might determine the control of the House, yet Republicans constantly appealing to their base fail to deliver on this promise.
Although Republican leaders in the House may take a hit if they cause chaos in the capital, it doesn’t mean the front-runner in the race will lose no matter what happens. The kind of anarchy that Trump claims is sweeping the United States and necessitating a strongman to avert has historically been fruitful for his political career.
He is claiming expansively that presidents, unlike all Americans, are above the law and falsely asserts that he won the 2020 election as the foundation of his 2024 campaign. The US Supreme Court, which is already scheduled to hear one case involving Trump’s ability to vote on Thursday, is set to become even more entangled in the divisive politics of this election year, as an appeals court decision on Tuesday rejected his demands for immunity.
Despite Trump’s claims that he lacks the authority to close the border, tens of millions of Americans continue to support him as a credible presidential candidate. They believe Trump’s claims that he was unfairly removed from office and that Biden has failed to ensure their safety.