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    Susan Shelley: The revolt in the House
    • October 7, 2023

    The most revealing thing that occurred in the House of Representatives last week was the eviction of former Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer from their “hideaway” offices in the Capitol.

    It happened within hours of the vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House. After all Democrats joined eight Republicans in voting McCarthy out, interim speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, declared the House to be in recess, angrily slamming the gavel with such force that if he had been at a carnival he would have won a giant stuffed panda.

    According to reporting by Politico, McHenry informed Pelosi’s office via email that she had to have all her belongings moved out of her office by the next day. The email said the “room will be re-keyed” and reassigned.

    The New York Post reported that Hoyer was also told on Tuesday that he had to vacate his Capitol hideaway office by Wednesday.

    It’s not uncommon for party leaders to use the loss of preferred office space as a tool of party discipline, but it’s usually in their own parties.

    Nancy Pelosi was not in the Capitol for the vote to remove McCarthy because she was in California for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s funeral. She complained in a statement that McHenry’s order was a “sharp departure from tradition.”

    The timing would seem to indicate that Republican party leadership expected something of former speaker Pelosi, and rage was the reaction when it wasn’t delivered.

    McCarthy himself seemed to confirm this in a post-removal press conference. He mused about his life, starting with his childhood in Bakersfield, and he related a story about something that happened in 2022, after Republicans had won the majority but before he had become speaker.

    “Nancy Pelosi came to me, she was speaker at the time on the way out, and I told her I was having issues with getting enough votes. She said, ‘What’s the problem?’ I said they want this ‘one person can rule you out,’” McCarthy said. “And she said, ‘Just give it to them. I’ll always back you up. I made the same offer to Boehner, and the same thing to Paul, because I believe in the institution.’”

    McCarthy concluded, “I think today was a political decision by the Democrats.”

    It sounds as if he thought they had a deal — Pelosi would deliver the votes of enough Democrats to defeat the motion to remove McCarthy.

    But then nobody on the Democratic side lifted a finger to save him.

    Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana, one of the Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy as speaker, described another reason that McCarthy may have thought he had an understanding with Democrats.

    Speaking to Jan Jekielek on the American Thought Leaders interview program, Rosendale explained that the agreement McCarthy made in order to become speaker required single-subject bills to fund the government, as required by the Budget Act of 1974, instead of “continuing resolutions” and “omnibus” bills that are thousands of pages long and stuffed with earmarks for pet projects.

    Rosendale said McCarthy broke his word on that and instead “completely orchestrated” a delay in bringing appropriations bills to the floor for a vote so that the House would be up against the September 30 end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline. Then, with everyone talking about the shutdown of government, McCarthy negotiated a continuing resolution that “extended Nancy Pelosi spending levels and Joe Biden’s policies.”

    That continuing resolution, Rosendale said, “was passed with 209 Democrat votes and only 125 Republican votes.” He said McCarthy was allowing the Democrat minority to “dictate the policies leaving the House. And that’s what we witnessed. When you see more Democrats voting for these major spending measures than Republicans, clearly that wasn’t a compromise, that was selling out the Republican party.”

    And there was more. “On top of that, we heard that he negotiated a separate deal with the president to tie border security funding to Ukraine funding,” Rosendale said, “and that was it.”

    The fight over the budget process may seem arcane but it affects all of us. We’re experiencing high inflation as a result of the U.S. government printing money to the tune of about $2 trillion per year to cover federal overspending. The national debt is now up to $33 trillion. Interest rates are rising, which could cause a real estate crash and a severe recession. Fiscal insanity in Washington hurts regular people. It’s not unreasonable for lawmakers to go to war for a transparent, responsible budget process. The regularly scheduled cliff-hangers of debt ceilings and shutdowns have led to massive deficit spending and wrecked the value of your currency.

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    In August, the leaders of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — met to discuss the creation of a new joint BRICS currency in an effort to reduce their reliance on the dollar. The world is not “de-dollarized” yet, but it’s a bright red flashing warning sign that U.S. influence in the world is threatened by our government’s reckless fiscal policies. That has implications for national security.

    The battle over the budget process is a serious debate, or should be. Unfortunately, legitimate concerns are being drowned out in name-calling.

    But at least there’s this: the lawmakers who want to vote for unlimited spending for Ukraine and those who want to vote on transparent budget bills do agree on one thing. Some wars just have to be fought.

    Write [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Susan_Shelley

    ​ Orange County Register