Post McCarthy-What’s Up With Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers as Trump Backs Jordan?

With the unprecedented firing of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker of the House, CNN reported that Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus could be another casualty of the tumult on the Hill as its GOP members reportedly were eyeing an exit from the bipartisan group that grew out of the No Labels movement.

In the days that followed the Republican caucus internecine warfare it looked as if the GOP caucus might actually be lurching even further right, with the announcement of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) to wield the Speaker’s gavel.

After McCarthy was deposed, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked the New Jersey Democrat from Bergen County if the fact that “every Democrat voted to fire McCarthy”, meant that the bipartisan Problem Solvers was doomed.

“The group exists and it’s strong and you know I am grateful for the members on both sides of the aisle,” Gottheimer said. “Listen, this was an emotional day yesterday and I understand and have deep respect for all my colleagues. The key now, of course, is after working incredibly hard to avoid a shutdown this weekend, which we did successfully working together and of course the debt ceiling deal a couple of weeks [months] back.”

The former Clinton speechwriter emphasized he was now focused “on making sure that 40 days from now we don’t shut the government down and that’s my number one focus and then looking for ways that we can run the House in a more bipartisan way that of course doesn’t encourage extremism and encourages more bipartisan governing which as you know is my focus.”

According to its website, the Problem Solvers Caucus started in 2017 “as an independent member driven group in Congress, comprised of representatives from across the country—equally divided between Democrats and Republicans-committed to  finding common ground on many of the key issues facing the nation.”

In an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, before the vote on McCarthy, but after Congress had voted to keep the government open, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, made his best case for retaining McCarthy who had advanced the Continuing Resolution, that garnered 209 Democratic votes and 126 Republicans.

Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, told CBS deposing McCarthy wouldn’t “send the right message…Are we going to reward bipartisan bills being put on the floor or punish them. That is a choice.”

Only one Democrat, Rep. Mike Quigley voted no on the Continuing Resolution as a protest vote for McCarthy’s call to not include the $300 million in additional military aid for Ukraine, on top of the $75 billion the U.S. has already sent the beleaguered nation.

Ninety Republicans opposed McCarthy’s 11th hour bid to keep the government open with the Continuing Resolution. The PSC is composed of 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans.

In addition to Gottheimer, the PSC includes Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ) and Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ. New York State is very well represented, with seven of the state’s 26 Representatives on the roster.  Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY), Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY).

All of the Republican PSC members from New York voted to keep the federal government open and voted to keep McCarthy as Speaker as did Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ).

Yet, the PSC did see defections among the 90 Republicans who voted to tank McCarthy’s Continuing Resolution including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA).

Mace was the only Republican on the PSC roster  to vote as part of the gang of eight that ended McCarthy’s Speakership.

Ironically, Mace’s first vote as a new member back on Jan. 6, 2021, was to certify President Biden’s 2020 election victory. That put her at odds with the 147 Republicans in the House and Senate that voted to not certify the 2020 election results after the violent mob had seized the U.S. Capitol for several hours.

That “no” roster included Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) but also McCarthy, as well as Jordan and Scalise, the two men that have said they are campaigning to replace McCarthy.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Mace to describe her first voting day on the job.

“It was scary. At one point, the Cannon Office Building, where my office resides, was evacuated due to threats,” Mace recounted. “We found out later there were – there was not one, but there were multiple pipe bombs planted or delivered to the Republican Party in different places in D.C. on the Capitol. It was un-American what happened yesterday. These were not protesters. These are rioters, violent rioters. This was anarchy.”

Mace, just a few days on the job, told NPR that Trump’s followers were lied to about how the nation’s elections process actually worked.

“These people, the American people, were lied to. His followers were lied to,” Mace declared. “Many – millions of people believed that Congress could usurp the role of the Electoral College and singularly overturn the results of the election in a largely ceremonial vote to certify the Electoral College and the outcome in 50 states that legally certified their elections this cycle. The American people, millions of them, believed that the vice president could single-handedly overturn the results of the election yesterday.”

The New York Times reported, that after they had taken out McCarthy Mace appeared with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Steve Bannon’s War Room, which has been the online TV set bunker for the Trump restoration. On Bannon’s podcast, the self-styled field marshal of the MAGA movement, hailed Gaetz and Mace as heroic and gave them a chance to pitch his considerable following for campaign cash.

“Ms. Mace has previously called Mr. Gaetz a ‘fraud’ and accused him of opposing Mr. McCarthy because he wouldn’t defend him against ‘allegations that he sex-trafficked minors,’ the Times reported.

But it was a new day on Bannon’s program.

“I do need help because they’re coming after me,” Mace told Bannon, referring to the GOP caucus she had crossed. “They’ve threatened to dry up all my money. I’ve had multiple members, previous to the vote last night, threaten to withhold fund-raising if I took this vote. It’s a huge amount of pressure. They call your staff, they scare them.”

Evidently, the most pressing problem for Mace that needs solving right now is raising sufficient campaign cash.

Perhaps most troubling, is that Trump has endorsed Jordan for Speaker, who successfully evaded a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 Select Committee after the panel confirmed Jordan had spoken with Trump on the morning of the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol.

With each passing day of this beltway chaos, which is just a continuation of what was playing out on Jan. 6, Rep. Bill Pascrell’s Dec. 11,2020 letter to Speaker Pelosi looms larger and larger. In that correspondence he urged her not to seat 126 House Republicans that had put their names on “a malignant lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin” demanding “the will of the voters of these states be overturned and the Electoral College votes be stolen and awarded to Donald Trump.”

Pascrell urged a close reading of the Constitution’s 14th amendment, passed after the trauma of the Civil War which gave Congress the power to not seat members that “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

“Stated simply, men and women who would act to tear the United States government apart cannot serve as Members of the Congress,” Pascrell wrote. “These lawsuits seeking to obliterate public confidence in our democratic system by invalidating the clear results of the 2020 presidential election attack the text and spirit of the Constitution, which each Member swears to support and defend, as well as violate the Rules of our House of Representatives, which explicitly forbid Members from committing unbecoming acts that reflect poorly on our chamber.”

Pascrell continued. “Consequently, I call on you to exercise the power of your offices to evaluate steps you can take to address these constitutional violations this Congress and, if possible, refuse to seat in the 117th Congress any Members-elect seeking to make Donald Trump an unelected dictator.”

Trump is said to be making plans for what will be branded as a triumphant visit to Capitol Hill, the destination he had wanted to visit on Jan. 6.

It’s not over.

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