House Republicans take on Empire state of mind amid debt ceiling standoff, Trump indictment

Congress first met in New York City’s Federal Hall on March 4, 1789. House Republicans found their own “vagabond shoes” were “longing to stray” this week. They headed to New York City to “be a part of it.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spoke at the New York Stock Exchange about the debt ceiling on Monday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, conducted a field hearing a few blocks away. Jordan probed the crime problem in Manhattan. Republicans argued that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was wasting his time prosecuting former President Trump and should focus on more pressing issues. HOUSE WILL VOTE SOON TO CAP FEDERAL SPENDING AT 2022 LEVEL, RAISE DEBT LIMIT FOR ONE YEAR: MCCARTHY Republicans did everything in Manhattan but sell the island back to the Dutch for a couple of clocks. McCarthy even converted himself into a New York Yankees fan for a day. “It’s an honor to be in New York. I love this time of year. It’s the beginning of baseball season. We all know one of the most famous Yankees. The Bambino. Babe Ruth. You know what he said? You just can’t beat the person who never gives up,” said McCarthy.  US NATIONAL DEBT PATH IS A CATASTROPHE: STEVEN MOORE McCarthy’s quotation met a quick rejoinder from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Don’t quote a Yankee to me in New York City,” scoffed Schumer. Schumer then quoted Yankee legend Yogi Berra to McCarthy. “‘It’s déjà vu all over again,’” sniped Schumer about McCarthy failing to produce a budget plan. A crowd rose to applaud McCarthy when he spoke at the New York Stock Exchange, not far from the trading floor.  “I wish I could get that kind of applause in Congress,” said McCarthy. When it came to New York, perhaps McCarthy was thinking if he could make it there, he could make it anywhere. KEVIN MCCARTHY EXPLAINS HIS PLAN TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING “How many of you watched the speaker’s vote? Fifteen rounds? A good boxing match,” said McCarthy to the New York crowd of the House speaker’s election in January – the longest since 1859. McCarthy hoped to achieve several goals with his speech at the Stock Exchange. One objective was to commemorate the 100-day mark of his speakership, touting some of the GOP’s legislative accomplishments. The other intention was to criticize President Biden over not engaging about the debt ceiling. Another aim for the speech was to communicate to House Republicans that he was working on a plan – some sort of plan – to address the debt ceiling in the next few weeks. President Biden hasn’t engaged on the debt ceiling. But Republicans haven’t produced their own package, either. Fox is told that only 90 to 100 House Republicans joined a conference call Sunday to address the path forward on the debt ceiling. Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., who leads the Republican Study Committee (RSC), recently wrote to McCarthy, pushing for a vote on a debt limit package in the next couple of weeks. “The time for discussion is coming to an end. The time for action is now,” wrote Hern.  MCONNELL RIPS BIDEN’S ‘EXTREME POSITION’ ON DEBT LIMIT IN FIRST SPEECH BACK AFTER CONCUSSION “We’ve been talking about this for 89 days,” said Hern. “In the business world, you would no longer be leading your company if it took you 89 days.” Hern argued that Republicans kept “saying the same thing over and over.”  McCarthy hopes Republicans can coalesce around some debt ceiling package in the near future. The proposal is not expected to be capable of preventing a U.S. default later this year. Any partisan, GOP proposal probably couldn’t muster enough votes to clear a Senate filibuster let alone pass the Senate. But, McCarthy needs some sort of cover to satisfy rank-and-file Republicans. McCarthy offered few specifics during his speech in New York. He wants to cap spending at last year’s levels and curb future increases to just 1% annually. McCarthy also wants to claw back unused COVID dollars. That proposal sounds great. But it’s easier said than done. It’s hard to account for “unused” pandemic money. And any specific mechanism to reel-in that cash is vague at best. It’s even unclear if Republicans can coalesce around a debt ceiling package which can pass. Legislation is about concrete specifics. All the GOP is doing so far is jawboning. YOUNG COUPLE’S SHOCKING STORY OF BEING NEARLY $1 MILLION IN DEBT GOES VIRAL: ‘ABSOLUTELY INSANE’ “What we got today was not a plan,” said Schumer. “It was a recycled pile of the same things he’s been saying for months.” Schumer was also skeptical McCarthy could conjure up the necessary votes to pass any debt limit bill with such a narrow majority and a divided Republican Conference. “Let’s see if he can get his 218 votes,” said Schumer. “One hundred days” is a yardstick politicians and political observers often deploy to judge the success or failure of a presidential administration or congressional majority.  House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., provided reporters with a stat sheet about how Republicans were faring this year. Scalise’s office noted that the GOP majority passed 59 total bills to this point compared to 37 in the last Congress. Plus, President Biden signed three bills into law. The president affixed his signature to two bills at the same point in the Congress two years ago. Republicans approved several marquee measures in the early months of this year. There was a bill to tame gas prices. A package to give parents more say over their kids’ education. President Biden even signed into law a bill to rebuke the District of Columbia for legislation that bipartisan lawmakers regarded as soft on crime.  HOUSE GOP PLOWS AHEAD WITH ITS OWN PLAN TO CUT SPENDING AFTER BIDEN REJECTS COMBINED DEBT, SPENDING TALKS But the thin GOP House majority blocked consensus on how to tighten the border and adopt a budget.  George Washington University political science Professor Casey Burgat suggested giving Republicans “a little bit of truth serum” to get a straight answer about how well House Republicans fared over the first 100 days of McCarthy’s speakership. “I don’t think they’d give themselves a passing grade if they were being honest,” said Burgat.  Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., took to Fox over the weekend to rail against the GOP for focusing on the wrong things. She started with gun violence after a spate of mass shootings. “Republicans can no longer be silent on this issue. And it’s not about the Second Amendment. There are plenty of things we can do besides offering prayers and silence,” said Mace. Mace then criticized her own party for taking strident positions against abortion. “It’s so extreme that the middle, the independent voters, right of center, left of center – they cannot support us,” said Mace.  So Republicans are leaning into their investigations. There’s hope among some Republicans that the House will impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT ANSWERS FROM MAYORKAS ON ‘ABUSE OF PAROLE’ AT THE BORDER AFTER FIERY HEARINGS “I’d love to know why it takes so long,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Democrats believed they knew why Republicans hosted the New York hearing on Alvin Bragg. “This hearing is being called for one reason and one reason only. To protect Donald Trump,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel. “They are using their public offices and the resources of our committee to protect their political patron, Donald Trump. That is an outrageous abuse of power.” Republicans may struggle to advance key legislative items. But they’ve written reams of letters as part of their investigations into President Biden and Hunter Biden. Bragg is only their latest target. “When you’re starting to see non-legislative activity, that’s a good signal that you don’t have the votes,” said Burgat.  So, it’s unclear if Republicans can pass their own debt ceiling package. They aren’t even sure what to do about Mayorkas – even though some rank-and-file members would like to impeach him.  As they said in “Casablanca,” we’ll “always have Paris.” If the GOP struggles with its agenda in Washington, it will always have New York. As they say, “a bad day in New York City is still better than a good day anywhere else.”
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