Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson often talks about his love for the House of Representatives – a place that he has called home for 24 years. The 73-year-old Simpson has made it clear that he will run for re-election next year, which means that he likely will be around for at least a couple more years.
Lately, though, there hasn’t been much to “love” about serving in the House, with the “firing” of the House speaker. Simpson’s good feelings could be put to the test if Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a conservative firebrand who has a long history with the House Freedom Caucus, becomes speaker.
“I am deeply disappointed that eight House ‘Republicans’ joined the entire Democratic caucus to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House,” Simpson said in a release from his office. “Instead of using our limited time to work on critical appropriations bills, we watched a political personal stunt unfold. A House divided cannot stand.”Advertisement
As you might imagine, nothing is being done on those appropriations bills, which could mean a government shutdown on Nov. 17. Don’t blame fellow Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher for this one. He voted to keep McCarthy and is frustrated that Congress is not spending a minute on the pressing budgetary issues.
“That’s a problem,” Fulcher told me. “People are looking at this as a Republican revolt against McCarthy, and that’s not the case. You have every single Democrat voting against him and eight Republicans. Some 96 percent of Republicans didn’t want to do anything, and the vast majority of members of the Freedom Caucus (of which Fulcher is a member) wanted to stay the course.”
One notable exception was Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who led the charge against McCarthy and convinced seven other Republicans to go along.
“This was personal – Matt and Kevin,” Fulcher said. “It has been personal since the get-go. My personal opinion is Matt wanted to pull this trigger all along.”
Gaetz may be basking in glory at the moment, but not so much in Fulcher’s eyes.
“Don’t look for a lot of Matt Gaetz legislation to pass. We have come to a grinding halt. We can conduct business in committee, but we cannot legally conduct any more business without a speaker of the House.”Advertisement
Finding a new speaker will not be an easy task.
“We have a broad conference,” Fulcher said. “We have Republicans in New York who would be Democrats in Idaho. Then we have conservatives who are farther right than what there is in Idaho. There are members who are trying to negotiate a coalition government with Democrats, which may sound like a good thing to the outside world. But that’s not a good thing. The only thing that’s standing in the way of a socialistic system is the House. It’s important to have a speaker with 218 votes from the Republican side.”
Fulcher is backing Jordan, who was endorsed by former President Trump. But Fulcher’s support has nothing to do with the former president. “Jim is the real deal. For someone like me, he’s a conservative and a liberty-focused guy. He’s a friend and a good man.”
Fulcher says he also could support the party’s No. 2 man in the House, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Fulcher’s main reservation is that Scalise has been going though cancer treatments – and Fulcher, a cancer survivor, has some personal expertise in that area.
“I went through a very robust level of cancer therapy. What Steve is going through is not as aggressive. I’m telling Steve that he will come out of it fine, but in about three to five weeks, one of the biggest challenges is getting out of bed. Nothing happens with your mind, you can think clearly, but your physical strength is zapped,” Fulcher said.
“That job is a punching bag – the worst job in politics,” the Idaho congressman said. “I’ve told others that if we coalesce around Steve, they are going to have to a lot of the footwork for the next six months, because Steve may not have the endurance to do it. He could be right guy over time, but the timing is not right for him.”
Whether the timing is right remains to be seen. Simpson and Fulcher can brace themselves for at least a few long days and nights in Washington.
Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Op-Ed was submitted by Chuck Malloy. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Congressman Matt Gaetz, Congressman Mike Simpson, Congressman Russ Fulcher, Freedom Caucus, Kevin McCarthy, Louisiana, Ohio, Representative Jim Jordan, Representative Steve Scalise, Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives