Looking For: The GOP Negotiators Who Won’t “Burn The House Down.” Apply to: Kevin McCarthy.

“We can’t have this ‘burn down the house’ mindset,” said Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, another Republican with a bipartisan streak who plans to stay on next year. “We have to be a governing party when we are in the majority, so we need people like Upton and people like that. So other people have to step in.

The jolt of Upton’s retirement is less about protecting his seat, as it will likely remain in GOP hands, and more about the question before the House Minority Leader: what will be the exodus of his centrists, along with other high-ranking Republicans who don’t? seeing negotiation as a dirty word, what does next year mean to him? Republicans say McCarthy, the minority leader and the president’s undisputed favorite if the House turns around, has started conversations with his leadership team and other lawmakers about how to debate the conference on a handful of issues after the turning of the room.

“We’re going to be in the majority, so it won’t be about saying no to certain things anymore,” said Katko, who added that other members will fill the void when he and other experienced lawmakers leave. “We need to be able to bend a bit, and I think Kevin is already talking about that.”

Still, the Republican leadership team will be dealing with a conference that has clearly become more populist and, well, Trumpian in the four years since the party last controlled the House.

An example of how much the House GOP has changed: Of 133 members who voted to raise the debt ceiling the last time their party held a majority, only 33 are seeking re-election this fall. And not everyone is guaranteed to be in Congress in January; two of those deal-making Republicans, Representatives David McKinley of West Virginia and Rodney Davis of Illinois, are facing tough member primary battles.

And for McKinley, at least, it becomes a test of GOP voters’ appetite for bipartisanship when the party takes office, likely in January. In all, at least six of the 13 Republicans who voted for last year’s cross-cutting infrastructure bill will not return to the next Congress, including longtime Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who died last month. latest. Several others are facing tough re-election bids through their states’ once-a-decade redistricting process.

It’s far from clear who will replace those Republicans and what political brand the new members will bring — a stark reminder of how the current primary season will shape the direction of the House GOP conference for the next two years.

In the Texas primaries, for example, GOP leaders avoided several scenarios in which an ultraconservative Republican might have won. Morgan Luttrell, backed by McCarthy, won the primary for Brady’s seat after a showdown between House Republican leaders and their most eye-catching Trump cronies. Reps. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) endorsed Chris Collins, who ultimately lost the race to Luttrell.

Another leadership favorite, Wesley Hunt, prevailed in the new Houston-area seat, where he easily defeated GOP activist Mark Ramsey. And in North Texas, a closely watched third primary quickly turned from a battle to oust Rep. Van Taylor to a push to replace him after the GOP incumbent resigned amid a sex scandal. Former Collin County judge Keith Self ultimately prevailed over businesswoman Suzanne Harp, whose son is a top Cawthorn aide.

While Texas was a bright spot for McCarthy, he won’t be able to avoid new MAGA members entering his ranks next year from other states. Part of the reason is redistricting — members’ willingness to make deals often comes from the purple nature of their districts as much as their personal politics, and those districts are shrinking this year as state Republicans draw maps attempted to restrict gambling. domain.

Losing members like Katko, Brady, Young, Upton and Rep. Tom Reed (RN.Y.) does more than rob McCarthy of possible avenues for bipartisanship; it also deprives the conference of institutional knowledge after a turbulent period marked by two impeachments, a global pandemic and an attack on the Capitol. Together, the five members named above have accumulated approximately 150 years of experience in the service of the House.

“I think there’s always a big benefit to having people who can go back and say, ‘You know what, I remember when this happened 20 years ago,'” the rep said. first-termer Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), pointing to Katko and Upton’s “wisdom and wisdom experience.”

But he added that while his departing colleagues will be missed, the ebb and flow of retirements and new additions are helping keep the corps from stagnating.

Meijer noted that his freshman class, which was sworn in at the height of the pandemic and just days before the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, doesn’t know what “regular order” looks like — and that a much of the House has changed significantly since there was a regular order.

McCarthy has vowed to try to undo some institutional changes made by House Democrats if he takes office, including an end to proxy voting and the removal of metal detectors outside the chamber after the Attack on the Capitol.

“We’ve changed more history in Congress than at any time in any Congress under one party and one rule,” McCarthy said in November, slamming Democrats.

But that doesn’t mean the speaker-in-waiting isn’t ready to use the tools current Speaker Nancy Pelosi has employed against some of her most troublesome conservatives; he has already vowed to fire several Democrats from their committees.

Despite all the changes the House has seen since 2018 and an ideological congressional constituency increasingly stretched by bitter partisan polarization, some outgoing Republicans remain optimistic the institution will recover rather than crumble. .

“I just hope and pray that people come and pick up the torch of what we did,” Katko said.


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