In long hours, the GOP’s “angry” McCarthy stops a Biden bill

Partly political activity, partly tactical tactics, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy unleashed a long, divergent and stained-glass speech, taking control of the House floor and advancing passage of President Joe Biden’s great domestic political bill.

Sneering with contempt one minute, spilling sarcasm the next, McCarthy continued for hours as Thursday night became a Friday morning. He has raised complaints that have gone far beyond Biden’s legislative package, turning into a monologue of complaints about what’s wrong with the country and the Democrats who control Washington.

Far from the “happy conservative” he claimed to be, the California Republican debuted a new role: an angry heir to Donald Trump’s legacy, picking up where the former president left off, ruthlessly attacking his political opponents and their ideas with savagery that is. rare even for the divided halls of Congress The speech was a fact checker bonanza.

“If I sound angry, I am,” he said when the speech began.

“I’m just getting ready, sit down,” he said a few hours later. At another point, he said, “I know you don’t like me, but that’s okay.”

The lengthy speech provided a politically hurt keystone to an extremely tense week in what was one of the more partisan and dangerous years in Congress.

Monday began with a celebration, a rare bipartisan achievement, as Biden signed the relevant $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill into law. Earlier this week the House censored one of its own, MP Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., For posting a graphic video depicting violence against co-elected officials. And as Friday began, McCarthy was deep in his stem, closing business as usual.

Overheated rhetoric is nothing new in politics, but the post-Trump era set the bar for an annoying new normal, a climate that allowed fiery speeches to quickly transform into more dangerous terrain – like the former president’s own massacre that sparked the Jan. 6 rebellion at the Capitol attempting to annul Biden’s election.

McCarthy’s speech began like almost any other during the final debate on Biden’s bill. Democrats have been working to finish work on the package of social services and climate change programs, archiving their own differences to meet the president’s domestic priorities.

Typically, floor talks last one minute during the debate, but McCarthy used the prerogative given to party leaders to speak as long as they wish. As the minutes stretched to hours, it was clear that McCarthy’s speech had become something else – a moment.

He tore up Biden’s package as reckless overspending, blamed the administration of President Nancy Pelosi’s House and diverted from topic to topic – inflation, immigration, the threat of rising China, his childhood in California, the Lincoln presidency, the era by Jim Crow, even the influence of the movie “Red Dawn” on his politics – all while stabbing the air, frowning across the corridor, his voice cracking at times.

On one occasion he called on a number of Democrats to join the Republicans to oppose Biden’s package, trying to deny the party the votes it will need for passage. There seemed to be no takers.

Dozens of Republicans, some sitting directly behind him, urged him on. Democrats on the other hand whistled, and some tweeted squeaky responses.

“Loved it,” said Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., The brother of former Vice President Mike Pence. “This is a historic moment for Kevin, for sure.”

Tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., The Intelligent Committee chairman: “If you would take the worst speaker in the world / Give him the worst speech in the world / And make him read it for the longest time in the world / That would be a lot like listening to Kevin McCarthy tonight. Besides, probably better. “

It’s no secret that Democrats are facing a potentially difficult midterm election next fall that has endangered their slim majority. If Republicans take control, McCarthy is ready to become a speaker, a task he has tried, and failed, to achieve before, only to bow when it was clear he would not have the support of his Republican peers.

McCarthy’s sudden performance could be seen as a kind of audition, a call to the Republican colleagues who last denied him the job.

It could also be seen as a performance for another audience – by one. Earlier Thursday, McCarthy said he received a phone call from Trump, who played golf but called him. McCarthy would not reveal what had been said, only that they had spoken.

Their sometimes was a stony relationship, though McCarthy was among the first in Congress to support Trump’s 2016 campaign and enjoyed the former president’s special status as “My Kevin”.

Republicans in the House remained close to the previous president, imitating his style. The Republican House campaign committee recently held a fundraiser with Trump and the party has determined that his support will be essential if they hope to regain control of Congress.

Unlike the Senate, which is known for its long obstruction-style speeches, such addresses in the House are rare. Pelosi holds a contemporary record, delving into his own eight-hour floor speech in 2018 in support of immigration law changes, reading heartfelt letters from immigrants, some seeking protection against deportation.

Late at midnight on Friday as lawmakers showed up, Pence said McCarthy could be on his way to breaking Pelosi’s speech record.

The House was ready to return after dawn on Friday and try to pass the Biden package again, sending it to the Senate.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who is part of the vote-counting whip team, said it did not appear McCarthy’s speech shifted any support for Biden’s bill on her side of the aisle.

“I think Kevin is also trying to show his conference that he’s a tough guy,” Jackson Lee said. “And he has the right to do that. And when I was there, I showed him the respect a person on the floor deserves. But honestly, there are desperate people in my district who need every aspect of this bill. “

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Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Mary Clare Jalonick and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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