Pelosi's "Squad" nightmare becomes McCarthy's reality
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is suffering the nightmare scenario that Speaker Nancy Pelosi narrowly dodged when she regained the gavel in 2019.
Why it matters: Today's Republican rebels are a much bigger threat to the party than the left-wing Squad ended up being for Democrats.
- McCarthy failed at his first, second and third attempt at becoming House speaker on Tuesday.
The backdrop: After the 2018 midterms, newly elected progressives — led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — wanted generational change and were openly skeptical of Pelosi's leadership.
- Pelosi ended up winning 220 votes in 2019 to become speaker, including those of the freshman critics.
But Pelosi had a much bigger vote cushion than McCarthy:
- She lost 15 of her House colleagues, three of whom voted "present." They were mostly members in competitive districts who'd campaigned on opposing her.
- McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republicans. The best he's done after three ballots is to lose 19.
Zoom in: Pelosi's big concession to her opponents was that she would not serve more than four years as speaker.
- McCarthy's concession to his biggest detractors made it easier for them to remove him as speaker at any time.
Zoom out: House Democrats were in disarray under President Trump as the progressive and establishment wings aired internal grievances publicly.
- But they've largely fallen in line and united during the Biden era.