Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to the newsmakers line to discuss the potential stand still of Joe Biden’s agenda, jeopardized Democratic Senate seats, and Kevin McCarthy’s uncertain strategy.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by the very best Washington correspondent in the country, representing Star News Network and The Tennessee Star, Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Michael, a pleasure to be with you.
Leahy: What’s been going on in Washington this past week? What kind of trouble are they cooking up for the American citizens there in Congress?
McCabe: Like I said last week, the opportunity to really move the Biden that agenda ended July third at midnight. And so now, basically, we’re sort of like in sports.
You’d call it garbage time between now and when people come home after Labor Day. And then they have to deal with the federal budget, which has also been put off.
I see nothing concrete moving on the Biden agenda, and pretty much it’s dead unless you consider some kind of push after his State of the Union address in 2022.
The problem is that Republicans are targeting 60 House Democrats. And those House Democrats are going home, and they’re finding out just how dangerous their reelection is.
And it’s going to be very, very scary for the Democrats because when these people come back to D.C. after Labor Day, they’re going to realize that Biden can’t save them, and they’re going to have to sort of figure out how do I keep my job?
It’s very scary for the Democrats. I’ll put it this way, if McCarthy flipped five seats today, he would be the Speaker of the House today.
And so he doesn’t act like somebody who’s five seats down. But when you’ve got a five-seat margin as Nancy Pelosi has, that means that she can only give five people a pass when there’s a tough vote.
When she had a 20 seat majority in the last session, that meant she could rotate around 20 people. Maybe they don’t want to take a tough gun vote.
Maybe they don’t want to take a tough tax or life vote. Now she can only rotate five people around. The Republicans should be pressing them every day.
They’re not because McCarthy just wants to run out the clock. But I don’t see anything really crazy or any of the sort of radical stuff that people were imagining would pass in January getting through any time soon.
Carmichael: When you say any time soon when they get ready to do the budget for the year, are you saying there won’t be some big package that’s passed without on the 50 vote in the Senate, deal?
What do you call that? Reconciliation? Are you saying that there will not be a big reconciliation bill, that it’ll be a continuing resolution?
McCabe: Reconciliation only matters in the Senate because you need a simple majority to pass that because it’s exempt from the filibuster rule.
And you only get one bite at the apple every fiscal year. But time is running out. The closer we get to 2022, the fewer Senate Democrats are going to want to be associated with the Biden administration program and certainly the leftists who have taken over what’s going on in the House.
So they should. And so you look at the infrastructure bill. They might not even get their own infrastructure bill through reconciliation the way things are going.
Carmichael: Well, let me ask you this. If they were to pass a tax increase that was not necessarily as big as what Biden has asked, but still big and they did it through reconciliation without a single Republican vote.
How many Democrats in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2022 would that then put at risk?
McCabe: There are three who are on the bubble right now. There are about 20 something that are actually up for reelection.
I will challenge you and say that there is almost no way Biden is raising taxes this session.
Carmichael: Okay. Now, who are the three?
McCabe: You got Hassan in New Hampshire. You have Mark Kelly in Arizona. And then you have _____ in Georgia.
Carmichael: Who would be the next two Democrats in the Senate who would put themselves at risk if they voted for a big tax increase?
McCabe: There’s a raft of them. I think that focusing on those three because remember, there are only 12 Senate Democrats who are up. And so most everyone else is sort of in a safe seat.
The problem you run into is that when you have 60 House Democrats who are under attack, there’s a lot of fundraising money that now has to be spread out on the House side. Remember, in 2018, when Paul Ryan left 40 seats unchallenged?
There were 40 different races that the Democrats didn’t have to spend a dime on. Or you take Elizabeth Warren when she ran for reelection, the Republicans didn’t give Jeff Deal a dime to run against her.
So she didn’t have to play defense one day in Massachusetts. In 2018 she was able to campaign for over 150 different Democrats 2018 because she didn’t have to play defense.
Now, the Democrats are on serious defense in 60 races and three very serious Senate races. Those three Senate races could get very expensive.
Leahy: Let me shift gears, if you don’t mind, Neil. I have an interesting question for you. Liz Cheney has decided she does not need to be a respondent to what the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, wants.
She is actually responding to what Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker wants. The Democrat. She’s volunteered to join this January 6 select committee basically thumbing her nose at Kevin McCarthy.
My question to you is why don’t the Republicans just kick Liz Cheney out of the party so that she will not be able to participate in the GOP primary because she looks to be aligned with the Democrats, not the Republicans? What’s your thought on that?
McCabe: In British Parliament, they call that restoring the Whip when you take control of your party. Remember, Boris Johnson had his last election where he literally kicked 20 Conservative members of Parliament out of the party.
He withdrew them from the Conservative Party. And he ended up winning one of the largest parliamentary majority going back to say, Margaret Thatcher.
McCarthy was weak the first time Liz Cheney was challenged. He pretty much had no choice the second time. And now he said that he would withdraw people’s midi assignments if they agreed to participate in the January sixth Commission.
She called his bluff, and he backed down. Mccarthy’s playing a very dangerous game because he wants to ride out the clock. We are one quarter down.
He’s got three quarters to go, and he’s already in the pre-game defense. I would look at the guy named John Caico from upstate New York.
He also voted to impeach Trump. McCarthy put him in charge of negotiating a January sixth Commission. And he also put Caico in charge of the Republican responses on Russian hacking and interference in our political system.
Which, if anything, is a dog whistle to the Trump haters. And so McCarthy is playing a very dangerous game. And you pointed out with Liz Cheney, but I think it’s true with other people. He refuses to restore the Whip.
Carmichael: Who would be a better person to be leading the Republicans in the House than Kevin McCarthy?
McCabe: Jim Banks. I think you’re going to see Jim Banks as the next Speaker of the House. He’s the chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
And the Republican Study Committee is no longer sort of linked with the leadership. The Republican Study Committee is returning to its roots as the Conservative resistance to the Republican leadership.
And you could even see the Republican Study Committee and the Freedom Caucus sort of folding into each other. But I think that Banks would be someone who could do a great job.
Andy Biggs from Arizona would do a great job. There are plenty of people out there. But I don’t think he necessarily wants to.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line who outlined the levers of power in the House of Representatives and gave different scenarios of how strategies are playing out for Pelosi, McCarthy, and Cheney.
Leahy: We are joined now by the great Neil McCabe who is the National and Washington Correspondent for The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Neil, every time I turn around national news publications want to talk to the Washington Correspondent for The Tennessee Star. The New York Times was knocking on your door, and you gave them a quote. (McCabe chuckles)
McCabe: A great bunch of kids at The Times. They, of course, were doing a hit piece on a place that I enjoyed working at One American News, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only positive quote that made it into that article. (Leahy chuckles) So I think I’m going to call that a win.
Leahy: Yes. All the mainstream media news outlets want to hear from The Tennessee Star’s Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe. And I want to hear from you, Neil about the impact on Biden’s legislative agenda of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts in the death of George Floyd.
McCabe: Well, I think, as they say on Wall Street, I think a lot of this verdict was already baked in and the lines are already drawn. So nothing is really going to change. I think the most significant thing, which is sort of ancillary to the Chauvin trial is what happened with Maxine Waters being scolded by the judge and giving Kevin McCarthy a chance to put some numbers on the board and force that vote.
The Democrats were able to defeat the motion to censor Waters, but it was 216 to 210. And basically, every Democrat voted the party line, which is a very scary thing for Pelosi. And if I can go into that, Pelosi runs her caucus very well. She is a brilliant vote counter, and she is able to garrison and heard and shepherd her votes. And the main tool that she uses is she goes to 218 to get a simple majority in the House.
And so basically you go around and you secure more than you need. You get like, 220 or 225 and you go around to your people, depending on how many you have. Once you’ve locked down your majority, what you tell people is there are people who are going to say, Nancy, I can’t go with you this time it’ll kill me in the district.
And Pelosi will say if I can get you out of it, I will. And so once she has her simple majority, she can then go around to people and say, I’m going to let you off the hook. And so you’ll see a number of votes going back to when Pelosi’s been Speaker, and then even with this majority leader and whatnot that she has allowed Democrats to vote against Democratic legislation and the Democratic motions as part of the deal.
It’s like if I let you off the hook on this gun vote when the abortion vote comes up, I’m going to need you. And that’s part of the way she cuts a deal. She was not able to let anybody off the hook this time because if she let this person off the hook, she’d have to let somebody else off the hook. So basically, they all had to go down together. And that shows you just how tight things are. If you saw 10 Democrats voting with Republicans, that would show you that Nancy Pelosi is confident and has control of her Chamber.
But if she’s got to lock everybody down, that means that they’re strapped to the max. And it’s not a good sign for Pelosi. It’s a good sign for McCarthy, who is very good when things are safe and the Democrats make a mistake. McCarthy is very good at sort of scooping up the ball. Where McCarthy is very bad is that there actually is no Republican agenda.
You never hear McCarthy talking about gun rights unless he’s trying to restrict guns and gun rights. You never hear him talking about immigration unless he’s trying to expand immigration. You never hear him talking about building the wall. So if McCarthy has the juice to get this Waters thing to the House floor, there’s a ton of bills that McCarthy could have been bringing to the House floor, he’s not going to do it. And that’s just the way it is.
He’s a passive reactive guy. And if that continues, it could jeopardize the red wave that is going to be coming and everybody smells it which is exactly why Biden is playing smash and grab with these executive actions and executive decisions. They just decided to make all school lunches is free. They just decided that they’re going to start restricting nicotine and tobacco. They’re talking about auto emissions. They’re cutting deals with Iran.
They’re cutting deals with China. They’re moving on NATO. It’s like Biden is in a hurry because the Democrats know they are supposed to lose the House in 2022. The only thing that’s going to stop the Republicans from taking the House is McCarthy sort of dampening voter enthusiasm as he continues to support people who voted to impeach Trump and continues to go after and ridicule conservatives and there is no reason to vote for Republicans because all he does is go after Democrats when they stumble.
Carmichael: Neil, let me ask you a question.
Carmichael: I’m going to take everything that you just said to be gospel to be correct.
McCabe: It is the gospel.
Leahy: The gospel according to Saint Neil. (Laughter)
Carmichael: Amen. Amen. My question is this, is the majority of the Republicans in the House like McCarthy? And if they’re not, if they’re more conservative than McCarthy, then how does McCarthy win his position of minority leader?
McCabe: Well, basically, there are probably 70 or 80 conservatives in the Republican conference. The rest of the guys are these goofballs who are active in the Rotary Club and they own five dealerships or they sold their business and they didn’t know what to do. The Republican Party, especially on the House side, loves to go with these so-called self-financing guys.
So if some rich guy decides he wants to run for Congress the Republican Party will back him because they don’t have to do any work. He can raise his own money. And so these guys get in and they are just good-time Charlies and they want to go along to get along. The reason why McCarthy is still there is that no one else is strong enough to make a run for it.
And so basically, McCarthy is there is the store literally a placeholder because Steve Scalise does not want to make a run for Speaker of the House. We already know that Liz Cheney is going to run for Speaker. She was trying to muster votes to go up against McCarthy for Speaker last time. So, I mean, there are people who want to take McCarthy down, but because nobody has the juice to take him down completely, they’re basically going to leave McCarthy there until they can figure out what they’ll do.
And so it becomes sort of this ghost ship, almost like we saw under Paul Ryan where he skips the bit in April of 2018 and refuses to resign and basically it just becomes this ghost ship. Remember, in 2018, the Republicans lost the House, but they also left 40 seats unchallenged. And McCarthy of course is part of that team.
Carmichael: Geez. There is nothing that I can look at to argue with you. But the clarity of the way that you said it is disappointing…
McCabe: You can’t argue with that. (Leahy laughs)
Carmichael: That’s true.
Leahy: Neil, where does this go? What has to happen? What has to change between now and 2022 for the Republicans to take back the House of Representatives?
McCabe: So basically, it’s McCarthy’s game to lose. You’re going to see some more retirement on the House side. Kevin Brady, rather the very powerful and wonderful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when the Republicans had control, the ranking member there. He’s announced his retirement. Devin Nunes should be in place to take over that spot. And as you see, the sort of the jockeying around of the senior Republicans, you’re going to see some potential chairman that is going to decide you know what? Maybe I want to be Speaker.
Listen to the third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.