Who will replace Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy in Congress? Here are possible candidates

SACRAMENTO — U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s decision to retire is not a surprise after he became the first speaker of the House to be ousted by a vote of the chamber, and provides a rare opportunity for an ambitious California Republican to seek higher office.

In a state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by about 2 to 1, only 12 of the 54 politicians representing the state in Washington are in the GOP — so those openings don’t surface often.

McCarthy, 58, has had the good fortune of representing one of the most conservative congressional districts in a state dominated by Democrats. Former President Trump won the district by a near 2-to-1 margin over President Biden in 2020.

So whoever voters pick might stick around for a while.

After serving as Republican leader in the California Assembly, McCarthy in 2006 became one of the few GOP newcomers to be elected to Congress in a year Democrats swept Republicans out of power. There might be some déjà vu in the future.

Two prominent Republicans who could jump into the race to replace McCarthy also represent the Bakersfield area in the state Legislature, including Sen. Shannon Grove, a former minority leader in the California Senate. And it’s possible the Democrats might win back control of the House in the 2024 election. The vacancy also may tempt some former members of Congress who represented districts in the Central Valley. Devin Nunes, a Trump supporter who now serves as chief executive of his media company, still has $11 million socked away in a congressional campaign account, according to the latest report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Bakersfield is the city with the most voters in McCarthy’s 20th Congressional District, which includes portions of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Along with the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada and a sliver of the Mojave Desert, the district swallows up a major portion of California oil country and some of the most productive — and lucrative — farmland in the nation.

So who will represent this vast district?

First elected to the Assembly in 2016, Fong serves as the vice chair of the budget and transportation committees.

The Republican began his career in politics as a staff member for longtime Bakersfield Rep. Bill Thomas, who served as a chair to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where Fong worked on international trade policy. Fong then served as district director for McCarthy, advising the congressman on issues affecting the Central Valley and helping serve constituents.

Fong has been a vocal critic of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push for restricting oil production in California and the administration’s overall energy policies, and has warned that the state’s electricity grid is not capable of supporting the administration’s mandated transition to electric vehicles. Fong also has criticized the spending of state money by Newsom and the California Legislature’s Democratic leadership.

Grove, who once described herself as a “gun-carrying, tongue-talking, spirit-filled believer,” served as leader of the California Senate Republicans for two years.

The Bakersfield Republican is a U.S. Army veteran and served six years in the Assembly before her election to the state Senate in 2018. An enthusiastic supporter of Trump before and after he lost the 2020 presidential election, Grove called him “the greatest of all time” and reiterated false claims that President Biden won the election because of voter fraud.

Grove is a staunch defender of the California oil industry, a critical economic force in her Bakersfield-area Senate district. She has opposed mandatory vaccinations for schoolchildren, including the COVID-19 vaccine, and this year successfully pushed through legislation to increase penalties for child sex traffickers.

Republican Nathan Magsig is a member of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year for the seat occupied by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove).

He has acted as a conservative firebrand in the Fresno area, voting earlier this year to sue the state of California over a law that requires cities to eliminate the Native American slur “squaw” from geographic features and place names. He has also echoed Trumpisms about unfounded election fraud claims.

The former youth pastor who also served as mayor of conservative Clovis was a staunch McCarthy supporter, telling The Times earlier this month: “My focus now is to show my support for him.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Biden, GOP Reach Debt Ceiling Deal with 2-year Agreement On Work Requirements

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached an “agreement in principle” late Saturday as they raced to strike a deal to limit federal spending and resolve the looming debt crisis ahead of a June 5 deadline, the House speaker said.

A deal would avert a catastrophic U.S. default, but risks angering both Democratic and Republican sides with the concessions made to reach it.

The Democratic president and Republican speaker reached the agreement after the two spoke earlier Saturday evening by phone, said McCarthy, speaking Saturday night. The country and the world have been watching and waiting for a resolution to political standoff that threatened the U.S. and global economy.

With the outlines of a deal in place, the legislative package could be drafted and shared with lawmakers in time for votes early next week in the House and later in the Senate.

Central to the package is a two-year budget deal that would hold spending flat for 2024 and impose limits for 2025 in exchange for raising the debt limit for two years, pushing the volatile political issue past the next presidential election.

Negotiators agreed to some Republican demands for enhanced work requirements on recipients of food stamps that had sparked an uproar from House Democrats as a nonstarter.

Biden also spoke earlier in the day with Democratic leaders in Congress to discuss the status of the talks, according to three people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The Republican House speaker had gathered top allies behind closed doors at the Capitol as negotiators pushed for a deal that would raise the nation’s borrowing limit and avoid a first-ever default on the federal debt, while also making spending cuts that House Republicans are demanding.

As he arrived at the Capitol early in the day, McCarthy said that Republican negotiators were “closer to an agreement.”

McCarthy’s comments had echoed the latest public assessment from Biden, who said Friday evening that bargainers were “very close.” Biden and McCarthy last met face-to-face on the matter Monday.

Their new discussion Saturday by phone came after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that the United States could default on its debt obligations by June 5 — four days later than previously estimated — if lawmakers do not act in time to raise the federal debt ceiling. The extended “X-date” gives the two sides a bit of extra time as they scramble for a deal.

But as another day dragged on with financial disaster looming closer, it had appeared some of the problems over policy issues that dogged talks all week remained unresolved.

Both sides have suggested one of the main holdups is a GOP effort to expand existing work requirements for recipients of food stamps and other federal aid programs, a longtime Republican goal that Democrats have strenuously opposed. The White House said the Republican proposals were “cruel and senseless.”

They also had appeared to still be laboring over a compromise on federal permitting changes that would ease regulations for developing oil, gas and renewable energy projects and foster new transmission line connections.

McCarthy, who dashed out before the lunch hour Saturday and arrived back at the Capitol with a big box of takeout, declined to elaborate on those discussions. One of his negotiators, Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, said there was “not a chance” that Republicans might relent on the work requirements issue.

Americans and the world were uneasily watching the negotiating brinkmanship that could throw the U.S. economy into chaos and sap world confidence in the nation’s leadership. House negotiators left the Capitol at 2 a.m. the night before, only to return hours later.

Failure to lift the borrowing limit, now $31 trillion, to pay the nation’s incurred bills, would send shockwaves through the U.S. and global economy. Yellen said failure to act by the new date would “cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests.”

Anxious retirees and others were already making contingency plans for missed checks, with the next Social Security payments due next week.

The president, spending part of the weekend at Camp David, continued to talk with his negotiating team multiple times a day, signing off on offers and counteroffers. Biden was upbeat as he departed the White House on Friday evening, saying: “It’s very close, and I’m optimistic.”

All sides also are hearing from other lawmakers, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the independent from Arizona, who has been in the center of big policy debates, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Biden and McCarthy have seemed to be narrowing on a two-year budget-cutting deal that would also extend the debt limit into 2025 past the next presidential election. The contours of the deal have been taking shape to cut spending for 2024 and impose a 1% cap on spending growth for 2025.

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the Republican whip who is in charge of counting the votes from McCarthy’s slim majority to ensure passage of any deal, said he is telling rank-and-file lawmakers not to believe what they’re hearing until party leaders deliver the news about any deal.

Any deal would need to be a political compromise in a divided Congress. Many of the hard-right Trump-aligned Republicans in Congress have long been skeptical of the Treasury’s projections, and they are pressing McCarthy to hold out.

“We’re constantly in touch with our members, letting them know that what is being reported, you should not accept that,” Emmer said. “If there’s an agreement, we will let them know.”

The Republican proposal on work requirements would save $11 billion over 10 years by raising the maximum age for existing standards that require able-bodied adults who do not live with dependents to work or attend training programs.

Current law applies those standards to recipients under the age of 50. The GOP plan would raise the age to include adults 55 and under. It would lower the number of exemptions that states can grant to some recipients subject to those requirements.

Biden has said the work requirements for Medicaid would be a nonstarter. He initially seemed potentially open to negotiating minor changes on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but his position has appeared to harden.

Lawmakers are not expected to return to work from the Memorial Day weekend before Tuesday, at the earliest, and McCarthy has promised lawmakers he will abide by the rule to post any bill for 72 hours before voting.

The Democratic-held Senate has largely stayed out of the negotiations, leaving the talks to Biden and McCarthy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has pledged to move quickly to send a compromise package to Biden’s desk.

Weeks of talks have failed to produce a deal in part because the Biden administration resisted for months on negotiating with McCarthy, arguing that the country’s full faith and credit should not be used as leverage to extract other partisan priorities.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Politics: State GOP Starts Convention with No Prominent Senate Candidate

SACRAMENTO —  Programming note: Next week we will begin sending the California Politics newsletter on Thursdays instead of Fridays. Please look for us in your inbox March 16.

Will a prominent Republican jump into next year’s race to replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein?

It’s a question that’s top of mind as more than 1,000members of the California Republican Party and their guests gather in Sacramento this weekend for a convention that kicks off today.

The fact that no prominent Republican has so far announced plans to seek California’s open Senate seat is another sign of the decline of a onetime GOP powerhouse that produced two presidents and four governors in the span of just over a half century, reports my colleague Seema Mehta.

The GOP is now so marginalized in California that a Republican has not won a statewide election since 2006. California hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Pete Wilson in 1988.

Republicans who ran in two of the last three Senate races in California did not make it past the nonpartisan primary, allowing two Democrats to advance to the general election in 2016, when then-Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris won over Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and in 2018 when Feinstein won reelection over Kevin de León, who serves on the Los Angeles City Council.

Next year could play out the same way and result in another race between Democrats. Or it could wind up very differently: If the Democratic vote splinters among multiple party candidates, a Republican could advance to the general election if GOP voters consolidate behind one candidate.

But at this point there’s no sign the party or its supporters are working to make that happen. Instead, the California Republican Party’s strategic focus is on smaller races for the House of Representatives and the state Legislature in regions where GOP voters are concentrated.

And in that domain, the party is celebrating some bright spots: It helped successfully defend GOP Reps. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, David Valadao of Hanford and Michelle Steel of Seal Beach in competitive congressional races and aided farmer John Duarte’s win in a new Democratic-tilting district in the Central Valley.

By helping the GOP win narrow control of the House, the California Republican Party is now celebrating its biggest win in years: the rise of Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy to speaker of the House.

“California Republicans are taking a victory lap for sure,” state GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson told Mehta.

Who should pick the state schools superintendent?

Here’s a surprising side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: It could force Californians to rethink how the state selects its superintendent of schools. Times reporter Mackenzie Mays explains:

When California children were stuck at home in distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and schools reopened unevenly across the state, raising equity concerns, frustrated parents demanded action from Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

But unlike in other states, where superintendents were leading the charge, it was Gov. Gavin Newsom who steered the pandemic response in California, negotiating with teachers unions and setting guidelines for schools. Meanwhile, Thurmond was criticized for a lack of action.

Now, two years after the governor and legislative leaders devised a multibillion-dollar plan to safely reopen schools, lingering COVID-19 frustrations could add momentum to a decades-long debate about the role of California’s superintendent of public instruction.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) has introduced legislation that would require California’s superintendent to be appointed by the governor instead of elected by voters, in what he called a “good government” policy that could add power and influence to an office that oversees nearly 6 million public school students.

McCarty said that Thurmond has “admirably” led the state’s schools and has been “an effective voice,” but that’s not enough, calling the role “nothing more than an education cheerleader.”

Read the full article here.

State of the road show

For decades, California governors have been giving an annual speech to the Legislature known as the “state of the state.” Like its federal counterpart that the president delivers to Congress, the speech is an opportunity for governors to tout their accomplishments and lay out a vision for the upcoming year.

Newsom hewed to tradition his first year in office but then began breaking the mold. In 2020, he focused the entire speech on just one topic, homelessness, a departure from the usual format touching on numerous big issues. In 2021, he used the speech to kick off his campaign against the recall election and delivered it on the field at an empty Dodger Stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year he shunned the usual location inside the ornate Assembly chamber in favor of a modern auditorium in a state government building.

And this year, Newsom is really mixing things up by taking the show on the road.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

McCarthy kicks 2 Democrats off key committee

As promised, House speaker has blocked California Reps. Schiff and Swalwell from the intelligence panel.

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blocked fellow California Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from continuing to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The denial follows through on a pledge by McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to remove Schiff (D-Burbank) and Swalwell (D-Dublin) from the panel in retaliation for a move by Democrats — and some Republicans — in the last Congress to strip GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona of their committee assignments.

“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who requested over the weekend that Schiff and Swalwell retain their seats on the panel. “But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security.”

McCarthy described his rejection of the California Democrats as a step toward maintaining “a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities.” The panel provides oversight of the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Military Intelligence Program.

McCarthy claimed the panel was misused with Democrats in the majority during the last four years, “severely” undermining national security.

Schiff and Swalwell were quick to react. Schiff called the move “petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump” and warned in a fundraising email that it’s also “a dangerous effort to go after anyone who holds [Republicans] accountable” and risks turning the committee “into a political plaything for their right-wing supporters.”

“This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios,” Swalwell tweeted. “[GOP] Speaker Boehner and Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away.”

McCarthy has also vowed to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but it’s unclear whether he has the votes to do so.

Under House rules, the speaker has unilateral authority to keep Schiff and Swalwell off the high-profile select intelligence panel. Removing Omar from a standing committee will require a full floor vote.

At least two Republicans — Reps. Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Nancy Mace of South Carolina — have said they won’t vote to remove Omar from the panel. With a razor-thin majority, Republicans can’t afford more than four defections if they wish to boot Omar from the committee.

Over the weekend, Jeffries urged McCarthy “to honor past practice of the House of Representatives and our mutual interest in working together for the good of the American people” by accepting his recommendations for Schiff to serve as the panel’s ranking member and Swalwell to retain his membership. Jeffries said the removal of Greene and Gosar from their committee posts was no “precedent or justification” for removing Schiff and Swalwell.

Greene was removed in February 2021 following a backlash over comments she made before taking office expressing support for baseless conspiracy theories and appearing to endorse violence against Democratic lawmakers. She later distanced herself from the comments.

Gosar faced similar punishment in November 2021 after posting, then deleting, a cartoon video with his face superimposed on a character who kills someone with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) face and wields swords against President Biden.

McCarthy said removing Schiff, the lead manager during the first impeachment of President Trump, is justified because Schiff “lied” to the public about details related to a whistleblower report that triggered the investigation and dismissed as a Russian ploy emails found on a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden. McCarthy has argued that Swalwell couldn’t get a security clearance in the private sector following a report that he was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy with whom he later cut ties.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

McCarthy Elected House speaker in Rowdy Post-Midnight Vote

WASHINGTON —  

Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on a historic post-midnight 15th ballot early Saturday, overcoming holdouts from his own ranks and floor tensions that boiled over after a chaotic week that tested the new GOP majority’s ability to govern.

“My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” McCarthy told cheering fellow Republicans.

Eager to confront President Joe Biden and the Democrats, he promised subpoenas and investigations. “Now the hard work begins,” the California Republican declared. He credited former President Donald Trump for standing with him and for making late calls “helping get those final votes.”

Republicans roared in celebration when his victory was announced, chanting “USA! USA!”

Finally elected, McCarthy took the oath of office, and the House was finally able to swear in newly elected lawmakers who had been waiting all week for the chamber to formally open and the 2023-24 session to begin.

After four days of grueling ballots, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus.

He fell one vote short on the 14th ballot, and the chamber became raucous, unruly.

McCarthy strode to the back of the chamber to confront Republican Matt Gaetz, sitting with Lauren Boebert and other holdouts. Fingers were pointed, words exchanged and violence apparently just averted.

At one point, Republican Mike Rogers of Alabama, shouting, approached Gaetz before another Republican, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, physically pulled him back.

“Stay civil!” someone shouted.

Order restored, the Republicans fell in line to give McCarthy the post he had fought so hard to gain, House speaker, second in the line of succession to the presidency.

The few remaining Republican holdouts began voting present, dropping the tally he needed. It was the end of a bitter standoff that had shown the strengths and fragility of American democracy.

The tally was 216-212 with Democrats voting for leader Hakeem Jeffries, and six Republican holdouts to McCarthy simply voting present.

The night’s stunning turn of events came after McCarthy agreed to many of the detractors’ demands — including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.

Even as McCarthy secured the votes he needs, he will emerge as a weakened speaker, having given away some powers and constantly under the threat of being booted by his detractors.

But he could also be emboldened as a survivor of one of the more brutal fights for the gavel in U.S. history. Not since the Civil War era has a speaker’s vote dragged through so many rounds of voting.

The showdown that has stymied the new Congress came against the backdrop of the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which shook the country when a mob of Trump’s supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican’s 2020 election defeat to Biden.

At a Capitol event Friday, some lawmakers, all but one of them Democrats, observed a moment of silence and praised officers who helped protect Congress on that day. And at the White House, Biden handed out medals to officers and others who fought the attackers.

“America is a land of laws, not chaos,” he said.

At the afternoon speaker’s vote, a number of Republicans tiring of the spectacle temporarily walked out when one of McCarthy’s most ardent challengers, Gaetz, railed against the GOP leader.

Contours of a deal with conservative holdouts who had been blocking McCarthy’s rise had emerged the night before, and took hold after four dismal days and 14 failed votes in an intraparty standoff unseen in modern times.

One significant former holdout — Republican Scott Perry, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who had been a leader of Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election — tweeted after his switched vote for McCarthy, “We’re at a turning point.”

Trump may have played a role in swaying some holdouts — calling into a meeting of Republican freshmen the night before, and calling other members ahead of voting. He had urged Republicans to wrap up their public dispute.

As Republican Mike Garcia of California nominated McCarthy on an earlier ballot Friday, he also thanked the U.S. Capitol Police, who were given a standing ovation for protecting lawmakers and the legislative seat of democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.

But in nominating the Democratic leader Jeffries, Democrat Jim Clyburn of South Carolina recalled the horror of that day. “The eyes of the country are on us today,” he told his colleagues.

Electing a speaker is normally an easy, joyous task for a party that has just won majority control. But not this time: About 200 Republicans were stymied by 20 far-right colleagues who said McCarthy was not conservative enough. Only the 12th ballot on Friday afternoon did McCarthy start making gains, flipping their votes to support.

The House adjourned Friday until late in the night, giving time for last-minute negotiations and allowing two absent Republican colleagues to return to Washington.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, much the way that some past Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right flank. The result: government shutdowns, standoffs and Boehner’s early retirement when conservatives threatened to oust him.

The agreement McCarthy presented to the holdouts from the Freedom Caucus and others centers around rules changes they have been seeking for months. Those changes would shrink the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence in drafting and passing legislation.

At the core of the emerging deal was the reinstatement of a House rule that would allow a single lawmaker to make a motion to “vacate the chair,” essentially calling a vote to oust the speaker. McCarthy had resisted allowing a return to the longstanding rule that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had done away with, because it had been held over the head of Boehner. But it appears McCarthy had no other choice.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

Why Are Some Republicans Revolting Against Kevin McCarthy’s Bid To Be Speaker of the House?

The insurgent Republicans want to balance the budget, impose new barriers to immigration, and increase transparency for future earmark spending.

For the first time in 100 years, no one was elected speaker of the House on the first ballot when the new session of Congress opened on Tuesday—thanks to a breakaway faction of Republicans who denied Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R–Calif.) bid to return to the top post in the House of Representatives.

McCarthy finished second to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.) in the first round of voting, but neither candidate reached the magic number of 218 needed to win a majority. Rep. Andy Biggs (R–Ariz.) received 10 votes on the first ballot, while Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) picked up six votes and three other lawmakers got one vote each. In all, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy, who can afford to lose just four votes and maintain a majority of the closely divided chamber.

In a second round of balloting, Jeffries got 212 votes while McCarthy received 203, and Jordan consolidated the 19 Republican votes against McCarthy.

But why, you might be wondering, would a group of Republicans trigger this sort of chaos?

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Scott Perry (R–Penn.), one of the renegade Republicans, laid out the answer to that question in a lengthy statement posted to his Twitter account. Perry said that the group of Republicans opposed to McCarthy was seeking “firm commitments” from McCarthy on four “concrete policies” they wished to bring to a vote.

Those policies, according to Perry: A balanced budget, passage of the Fair Tax Act (which would replace the federal income, payroll, and estate taxes with a national sales tax), passage of a proposal crafted by Texas Republicans that aims to crack down on illegal immigration, and the imposition of term limits for members of Congress.

Additionally, Perry said that McCarthy was asked to support two changes to how the House operates. First, to require a two-thirds vote to approve earmarks, which would have to be voted on individually. Second, to allow amendments that would cut spending to be introduced on the House floor to any legislation.

As a set of proposals, it’s a bit of a mixed bag—though the immigration element would be a massively expensive attempt to limit the free movement of people. It’s also a bit crazy that lawmakers have to resort to once-in-a-century tactics just to get congressional leaders to consider balancing the budget.

But it is certainly not a radical or wildly irresponsible list of demands. More transparency and accountability on earmarks—something that hasn’t really materialized despite the promises of those who pushed to end the earmark ban—would certainly be welcome. Floor amendments to legislation would be a step toward restoring the so-called “regular order” of moving legislation through Congress, another welcome and overdue reform.

In that same Tuesday morning statement, Perry said McCarthy effectively forfeited his chance to be speaker by refusing to go along with those requests. Later on Tuesday, Perry and his fellow breakaway Republicans followed through with that threat.

What happens now? It’s unclear. There will be a third vote in the House, and perhaps many more. In 1855, it took 133 ballots before a stalemate for speaker of the House was broken.

“We are going to continue to vote until Kevin’s the next speaker,” Rep. Dave Joyce (R–Ohio), a McCarthy supporter, told CNN after the second round of balloting on Tuesday.

It might look chaotic and weird, but actually, this is just fine. It’s democracy. For the moment, and maybe longer, think of the House of Representatives as functioning more like a multi-party democracy than the two-party duopoly that we’re used to seeing.

In multiparty systems, two or more parties have to come together and form a coalition in order to achieve a governing majority. That requires some horse-trading and usually involves drawing up a semiformal document outlining what policies the coalition will work together to craft (and sometimes, equally importantly, which policies will be off-the-table).

For the purposes of the speaker election, Perry and his fellow renegade Republicans are operating like a minority party in a multiparty system: offering their support in exchange for getting to put a hand on the steering wheel of the future coalition government. If McCarthy doesn’t want to make a deal with them, he might have to seek a coalition government with a centrist faction of Democrats. Failing that, Republicans might try to find someone else within their ranks who can get the requisite 218 votes from the chamber.

Click here to read the full article at Reason.com

Proposed legislation would redirect federal funds away from California high-speed rail

High speed rail constructionTwo House bills introduced this month by Republicans from California seek to redirect federal funds from the state’s high-speed rail project and use the money for other purposes. The Trump administration in February demanded funds back from the controversial project, which has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.

A bill introduced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would “repurpose” about $3.5 billion worth of federal funds for the rail system to water infrastructure projects to help the state cope with future droughts. A second piece of legislation, dubbed the “High-Speed Refund Act” and introduced by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, requires that any funds the Transportation Department provided to the high-speed rail development go instead to “important freight and highway projects.”

“The California high-speed rail project is a boondoggle that California and American taxpayers must move on from,” McCarthy said earlier this month. “Since its inception, the project’s costs have ballooned while oversight and accountability within the California High-Speed Rail Authority has been nonexistent.” …

Click here to read the full article from CNBC

All 14 California Republicans in House Hold the Line on Tax Reform

Kevin McCarthyAll 14 California Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass the Senate’s version of a new budget bill that prepares the way for tax reform.

They did so even though one of President Donald Trump’s proposed reforms is an end to the state and local tax deduction (SALT), a $1.8 trillion boost that would hit high-tax, Democratic-dominated states like California, whose high earners benefit disproportionately from the deduction.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had warned California’s Republican delegation that they would be hurting their own state if they voted for the budget. According to the Sacramento Bee, she called them potential “accomplices” in hurting California taxpayers, describing tax reform as “really an urgent time for the state of California.” She advised them they would have more leverage over the final legislation if they voted no.

But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) disagreed, telling the California Republican Party convention in a speech over the weekend: “I don’t think it’s fair that somebody else subsidize poor management of California or New York policies. … No longer can Sacramento say, I’m gonna raise the rates, just cause I’ll have the federal government subsidize it. They will have to be held accountable for when they want to raise taxes higher.”

Some representatives, like vulnerable Mimi Walters (R-CA) of Orange County, seemed undecided. Capital Public Radio quoted her spokesperson as saying: “The Congresswoman’s top priority is putting more money back into the pockets of middle class Californians. …  She will carefully review any change to the SALT deduction to determine the impact on hard working taxpayers in need of tax relief.” In the end, however, Walters, too, held the line.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

House GOP leader asks Jerry Brown: How would you replace Obamacare?

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has written to Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of other states soliciting their input for replacing Obamacare.

Dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation has been central to debate in Washington since voters in November handed Republicans control of the White House and Congress.

“As Obamacare continues to saddle patients with less choice, higher costs, and mountains of mandates, it is clear that major health care reforms must be made to strengthen and improve health care for all Americans,” McCarthy wrote in the letter last month, which was signed by five other House Republicans, including Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas.

“Lawmakers, governors, and state insurance commissioners have a tremendous opportunity to achieve our shared goal of enacting health care reforms that lower costs, improve quality, empower states and individuals, and bring our health care system into the 21st century,” they added. …

Click here to read the full article

Donald Trump forces a California water deal without lifting a finger

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s politicians and pundits – including this one – have been busily speculating on what effect a Donald Trump presidency could have on a state that rejected him overwhelmingly.

Well, we saw the first major impact last week, without Trump even lifting a finger.

A compromise bill that, in effect, reallocates federally controlled water in California – much to the delight of farmers and the dismay of environmentalists – won final congressional approval Friday.

Hammered out by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House, it broke a half-decade-long political logjam over the issue, and there is little doubt that uncertainty over Trump’s attitude was its driving force. …

Click here to read the full article