After a chaotic start to the new Congress, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are playing nice with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — for now.
Democrats said they’d work as much as possible with the California Republican — who last week endured 15 humiliating rounds of voting to become top dog — while one hardcore conservative said the recent chaos was actually a good thing.
New House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he’d had “positive, forward-looking” conversations with McCarthy in recent weeks, though he lamented the dysfunction among the GOP.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to build upon those conversations to do the right thing for the American people,” Jeffries said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
”We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable,” he continued, saying Democrats want to build on Biden’s legislative agenda.
”If Kevin McCarthy is willing to try to find common ground in that regard, they will find willing partners amongst House Democrats,” Jeffries said.
The Brooklyn pol said he hoped to have a better relationship with McCarthy than former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had, but voiced concern over the new speaker’s deal with far-right lawmakers.
“Our general concern is that the dysfunction that was historic that we saw this week is not at an end, it’s just the beginning,” he said.
“While the Congress was held captive this particular time, what is going to be a problem is if the American people will be held captive over the next two years to the extreme MAGA Republican agenda.”
McCarthy made a number of concessions to hardcore conservatives to get their support. Those include lowering the number of votes needed to hold a motion to give the speaker the boot, to just one.
He also agreed to a resolution setting up a special House committee to look into “the weaponization of the federal government,” which is expected to focus on investigations of the Jan. 6, 2021 siege of the U.S. Capitol.
The House is set to vote on the changes Monday. But some establishment Republicans are voicing concern about secrecy surrounding McCarthy’s concessions, the Guardian reported.
”We don’t know what they got, we haven’t seen it,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We don’t have any idea what … gentleman’s handshakes were made. And it does give me a little bit of heartburn because that’s not what we ran on.”
Still, most Republicans sought to strike an upbeat note after last week’s upheavals.
”Two hundred eighteen-plus Republicans realize that Kevin McCarthy needs a chance to govern, and we’re going to give him a chance,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said on “Meet the Press.”
“I’m confident that McCarthy’s going to be able to be given the green light to govern and to lead this conference.”
Last week marked the first time in nearly a century that members of the House failed to elect the speaker in a single round of voting.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) sought to cast the chaos as clearing the air.
”The dysfunction was in the prior Congress,” he told ABC’s “This Week.” “And the process that we went through this week was quite healthy from the standpoint of getting all of these issues resolved now.”