NOVEMBER 11, 2020 BY STEVEN HAYWARD POWERLINE
Right now it appears that Republicans will have at least 210 seats in the House in the next Congress, and perhaps a many as 214 if the remaining races where the GOP candidate leads all break their way. That would leave Democrats with a slim 7-vote majority, and leave the GOP needing to gain only four seats to take control in the next election.
Given that over ten House Democrats didn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker after the 2018 midterms, it raises a tantalizing possibility: Could four House Democrats be induced to support a Republican for Speaker (or even switch parties)? Highly unlikely, but a second possibility might be considered: Republicans could pledge their support for a moderate Democrat to become Speaker. If there is a challenge mounting to Pelosi within her own caucus, the potential for mischief is well nigh irresistible.
I don’t think this has ever happened before in the House, but there is a precedent for it on the state level—specifically in California in 1980. Following that election, majority Democrats in the state Assembly were split over choosing the next speaker between Leo McCarthy, the incumbent speaker, and challenger Howard Berman. This factional fight represented the geographical split among California Democrats, with McCarthy coming from the Bay Area while Berman was part of the LA-based Democratic machine run by Berman and Henry Waxman that was tired of Bay Area domination of the party.
The Democratic caucus was badly split, with San Francisco’s ambitious Willie Brown waiting in the wings. I’m not sure who instigated the deal, but Brown teamed up with Republicans and a handful of Democrats to install Brown as speaker in 1981. What did Republicans get from the deal? Increased representation on key committees, and the vice chairmanship of all the committees. Brown of course stripped Republicans of these concessions two years later after Democrats had a good election, and Brown—an extremely talented politician—went on to dominate the legislature for nearly 15 years, frustrating Republicans at every turn. It was probably a bad deal for Republicans in the long run, though it at the time it surely looked like a deal worth trying.
One might imagine Republicans backing a Democrat in the House in return for equal membership on some key committees, and perhaps some procedural promises. If prospective President Biden is serious about his “healing” and “governing from the center,” he might have to bless such a deal.
I suspect the odds of such a deal are very low, but it is worth floating if only because it will further enrage The Squad and the rest of the progressive left in the House. You should never miss a chance to sow further discord amongst your enemies. And if such a deal did happen, make sure you are long on popcorn futures, as the progressive left would have a full meltdown.
read more at Powerline; used with permission
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