Feb 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"Maddening": Epic double debacle stings House GOP

Mike Johnson framed by flags

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It's 10 minutes of humiliation that will live in House lore.

Why it matters: Even in an era of ousted speakers and wild, daily internal disarray, Tuesday night's back-to-back defeats for House Republicans were epic.

Zoom in: House Republicans were fuming and embarrassed after the twin defeats on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and military aid for Israel — a bill that was a GOP chess move against President Biden.

  • GOP lawmakers openly criticized leaders for bringing the bills to the floor without the votes to pass them.
  • "I just don't understand why we can't do the one thing the American people want," said Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.).
  • "'Frustrating' is not the right word. … It's maddening," Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) told Axios.

The big picture: It's part of a broader pattern of House Republican leaders struggling for wins in the narrowly divided chamber — largely due to divides in their own conference.

  • After unseating Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with the power gap that followed, Republicans are now failing to muster muscle on bills that would help them keep their majority at the polls in November.

What happened: The Mayorkas vote failed after three Republicans — Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Mike Gallagher (Wis.) and Tom McClintock (Calif.) — joined Democrats in voting against it.

  • The final Israel vote was 250 for and 180 against, which fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. 14 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill. 46 Democrats voted for the bill.

Between the lines: The Israel vote was an important House GOP counter-measure as the Senate struggles to pass a bill to fund Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and border security.

Being there: In a dramatic scene, Republicans on the House floor urged the three GOP "no" votes to flip.

  • When that failed, GOP leaders flipped a fourth vote to "no" so they could try again when House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) returns from cancer treatment.
  • Leaving the chamber, conservative Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) called the result "shameful," telling Axios: "I mean, what the hell are they thinking? We should have gotten this done."
  • Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), a former official in the Trump White House, chalked up the standoff on national security funding to "bad decision-making" by House GOP leaders.

What's next: Republican leaders are vowing to bring impeachment back to the floor — as soon as they have the votes.

Go deeper