Rep. Pete Aguilar blames House speaker crisis on ‘Republican in-fighting and chaos’ – Press Enterprise
The crisis Republicans in the House of Representatives find themselves in, after the ouster of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, is one of their own making — and only they can fix it, according to the third-ranking Democrat in the House.
“Tuesday was a solemn day and it was unfortunate for our country and our democracy,” Rep. Pete Aguilar, R-San Bernardino, said Friday, three days after eight hard-right House Republicans — with the help of House Democrats — removed a speaker of the House for the first time in American history. “I know folks in the Inland Empire don’t like to see the chaos and confusion of Washington. They want to see us work to make their lives better.”
The former mayor of Redlands-turned-House Democratic Caucus chairman rejected an argument that some pundits have made, that the Democrats had a “duty” to support McCarthy for the sake of stability.
“It’s never been on the minority party to select the speaker,” Aguilar said.
“We nominated the person we wanted to be the speaker in January,” he said, referring to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York. “Fifteen times. This is all because of Republican in-fighting and chaos. They can’t select a leader, because no one is going to be extreme enough in this Donald Trump era.”
McCarthy was ousted from office due, in part, to his decision to work with Democrats to keep the federal government open with a continuing resolution rather than risk a government shutdown. But the resolution only funds the government through Nov. 17.
Aguilar says that even if McCarthy had survived the ouster attempt, the House would still be looking at another budget showdown next month.
“I think it was always going to be a challenge as long as Republicans refuse to live up to the agreement that they made,” Aguilar said. “The Fiscal Responsibility Act was negotiated by the speaker himself and then he walked away from the deal two weeks later.”
The bipartisan act was signed into law by President Joe Biden in early June and raised the government’s debt ceiling through January 2025 while also reducing non-defense spending. But members of the House Freedom Caucus, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, who made the motion on Monday that removed McCarthy from the speakership role a day later, hated the deal and pushed McCarthy to back out of it.
“The agreement is the law,” Aguilar said. “If they want to talk to us about changing the law, they need to come talk to us. We’re willing to talk about all of this. We want a bipartisan agreement on everything.”
McCarthy is not alone in fighting an ultimately losing war with the most conservative members of the Republican caucus. Similar battles drove the last two Republican speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, from the position as well.
The Democratic Party also has a wide array of ideologies, but hasn’t run into the same sort of in-fighting as Republicans have in the 21st century.
“There’s strong Democratic unity in getting things done for the American people,” Aguilar said. “We coalesce around ideas, solutions and policies. And I think that’s the biggest frustration about Kevin McCarthy: He just embraced the extremes.”
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