The implosion of the House Republican caucus on Wednesday afternoon didn’t just result in the removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker without a clear strategy from the insurgent members who joined with Democrats in ousting him. It’s opened the door to a scenario where Democrats take control of the chamber even though Republicans still have a small majority (at least on paper), and begin moving bills banning so-called assault weapons, “large capacity” magazines, and a host of other restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms.
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey and I will be talking a lot about this on today’s VIP Gold live chat coming up at 1:30 ET, and one of the comments from yesterday’s floor debate that grabbed our attention came from California Republican Tom McClintock, who warned that McCarthy’s removal could ultimately put Democrats in complete control of the executive and legislative branches.
“The House will be paralyzed. We can expect week after week of fruitless [speaker] ballots while no other business can be conducted. The Democrats will revel in Republican dysfunction and the public will rightly be repulsed,” Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said before the final vote on McCarthy’s fate. “It will end when the Democrats are able to enlist a rump caucus of Republicans to join a coalition to end the impasse.”
Though McClintock predicted “this House will shift dramatically to the left,” other members interviewed this week said they did not yet see a solution — or a likely 56th speaker of the House.
There’s no guarantee that McClintock’s predictions will come to pass, of course. At this point I don’t think anyone really knows how this ends. But if replacing McCarthy does end up dragging on for weeks, stalling House business in the meantime, we may very well see a group of “moderate” Republicans form that tries to find a resolution through a deal with Democrats installing a “moderate” Dem as Speaker. I don’t think we’d see Republicans backing Hakeem Jeffries or AOC for Speaker, but no matter how “moderate” in theory a Democrat House Speaker might be in theory, in practice they’d still be in a position to advance Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda and at least bring a number of gun control bills to the House floor for votes.
Again, on paper Republicans would still have a slim numerical majority, but that doesn’t mean they’d be unanimous in voting down those bills. We’ve seen GOP members like Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick vote in favor of gun bans and expanded background checks in the past, and it’s entirely possible that Democrats could cobble together enough votes to approve one or more pieces of legislation aimed at legal gun owners and their right to keep and bear arms.
Unfortunately, the answer to the question I posed in the headline is “yes.” Wednesday’s vote could very well lead to a situation where gun control bills have a clearer path to Joe Biden’s desk, at least if it results in a Democrat getting the gavel. The best way to prevent that from happening is for the GOP caucus to rally behind a single candidate, but it doesn’t sound like we’re anywhere close to replacing chaos with consensus.