The Republican-run House of Representatives often has a reputation of being much more rambunctious and much more beholden to Trump while Senate Republicans, even in their Trump-ified iteration, are known for being much more staid in their demeanor. After all, a majority of House Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and only eight did so in the Senate on January 6. Similarly, the Senate likes to see itself as the grown-ups who focus on serious business while the House hates being treated as the children’s table.
But Tuesday and Wednesday showed the irrelevancy of that mindset. Beneath the comedy of errors, a deep rot exists within the GOP and it reveals just how much Trump has hamstrung the ability of the Republican Party to govern.
On Tuesday evening, the Mojo Dojo Casa House of Representatives failed to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas. The plan died a public death on the floor when three Republicans voted against it (with Congressman Blake Moore of Utah joining them to allow for the opportunity to bring impeachment up again). Then, in a dramatic turn of events, Congressman Al Green of Texas wheeled onto the floor fresh from surgery to vote against impeachment, killing it.
The vote was a massive embarrassment for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who held the vote to impeach Mayorkas not because of any legitimate evidence of crimes committed, but because he needed to aid and abet the most fringe elements of the House GOP such as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Moreover, Johnson did not even wait until House Majority Leader Steve Scalise returned from undergoing cancer treatments or Kevin McCarthy’s old House seat was filled, which would have given him an extra cushion. Instead, he went full speed ahead with a doomed impeachment that would do little to solve the influx of migrants that Republicans have taken to calling a crisis at the US-Mexico border. Indeed, even in the remote possibility that Mayorkas would be convicted in the Senate, President Joe Biden would simply just replace him with someone who has similar policies.
Rather than focusing on actually fixing any problems that they have highlighted, Johnson engaged in theater to please Trump and his allies in an effort to keep his gavel. Doing so not only made him look foolish, but also cheapened the impeachment process.
As if to add to the humiliation, the House then failed to pass a standalone bill to aid Israel. Johnson chose to put the vote on the floor for multiple reasons: he knows that Republicans reflexively hate Ukraine, since Greene has said she would file a motion to vacate if he pushed for Ukraine aid; in addition, he tried to do it under a so-called “suspension of the rules” wherein a vote can happen without it going through the House Rules Committee, since he knows many conservatives would disapprove of it.
That did nothing but infuriate Democrats for trying to separate Ukraine aid from Israel aid and when House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Joe Biden decided to play hardball and come out against it. In an attempt to box in Democrats and protect himself from the most extreme parts of his conference.
But if the House was a lesson in what happens when Republican elites try to appease Trumpism, the Senate GOP is a warning that Trump could blow up the hard work of governing. For the past few months, Republicans chugged along in negotiating with Democrats to extract concessions on immigration in exchange to aid for Israel and Ukraine, only for Trump to blow up the entire thing.
In the end, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against the deal that he had dispatched poor Oklahoma Senator James Lankford to negotiate. McConnell’s feelings about Trump are well-known at this point. But his actions show that he is as much a hostage to Trump’s whims as he was when Trump was in the White House.
All of these belly flops might seem hilarious and an example of karma ultimately coming back for McConnell and Johnson. But they spell bad news for the ability to govern. The House has basically delayed passing any spending bills because they will inevitably anger some conservative Republicans. Meanwhile, the inability to support American allies significantly diminishes the country’s standing as the leaders of the free world.
The comedy of errors that is congressional Republicans’ inability to govern could easily end as a tragedy. And either way, Donald Trump remains the star of the show and the one laughing.