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    Editorials
    Saturday, March 02, 2024

    Democrats may have to play role to get House working again

    The U.S. House of Representatives must get back to the work for which the members were elected and for which they are paid. That means it must elect a speaker, and soon. Though the Republican members alone have the blame for this situation, it may take political courage by some Democrats to correct it.

    The political insanity that has led to this point is hard to fathom. Eight radically right-wing House Republican members three weeks ago joined with the entire Democratic minority to oust the Republican speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy. His sin? He worked on bipartisan legislation to keep the government operating, assuring military personnel were paid, food assistance for the poor continued, and that food safety inspections were carried out, among many other vital functions.

    Rational lawmakers do not provide the means for the minority party to remove their leader. Yet that is what the radical eight did. And what was their plan for a new speaker? They had none.

    Thankfully, enough Republican House members stepped forward to prevent another insane act, the attempt to install Rep. Jim Jordan as speaker. It would be hard to find a person more ill-suited for the position than Jordan, a member of the Ohio delegation.

    The speaker’s job is to build consensus to get legislation passed, to find a way to get enough party members to “yes.” Since his election in 2006, Jordan has instead focused on blocking legislation. In 16 years, not a single bill sponsored by Jordan has become law. The nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking, which uses various measures to judge the effectiveness of lawmakers, has consistently given Jordan among its lowest scores.

    There is also the fact that Jordan joined in the efforts to block the will of the American people and keep President Donald Trump in office, despite Trump losing the election. Jordan also defied a congressional subpoena to testify about it.

    If a reasonably moderate candidate for speaker emerges from the latest Republican attempts, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York should be willing to release a few Democrats to vote for him, if that is necessary to get the speaker the necessary 217 votes. It is tempting, certainly, for the Democrats to continue to allow the Republicans to demonstrate their inability to lead. What greater proof could they have in persuading Americans to make a change in the 2024 election?

    But, for the sake of the nation, this foolishness must end. If it takes some Democrats to step up, so be it. Conflicts are spreading across the world. The House must make critical decisions about responding to them. The threat of another government shutdown looms. The people’s business must get done.

    If Republicans cannot get their act together, it may take people like U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the Second District Democratic representing eastern Connecticut, to step forward and support a moderate Republican candidate for speaker, should one emerge. Courtney is a pragmatic politician. He has worked effectively when his party was in the majority and when it was in the minority. He has worked across the aisle to make sure defense dollars keep flowing to Connecticut and to bolster submarine construction to protect national security.

    Potential candidates for the speakership that some Democrats should consider supporting are Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia.

    Emmer, the majority whip, served two terms as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, helping fellow Republicans win House elections. Emmer knows if the radicals are allowed to drag the party too far right, it will assure Democrats regain the majority in 2024. He will want to get things done. Scott called the far-right malcontents that pushed the House into this situation “nothing more than grifters.” That’s certainly a point in his favor.

    No Republican can solicit Democratic support in return for some sort of deal. That will doom their bid for the speakership. So it may take some Democrats, with no quid pro quo in place, to end this stalemate and get Congress working again.

    The Day editorial board meets with political, business and community leaders to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Timothy Dwyer, Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larraneta, Owen Poole, copy editor, and Lisa McGinley, retired deputy managing editor. The board operates independently from The Day newsroom.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.