In the days after Eric Cantor’s defeat stunned Washington, talk on the Hill has predictably turned not so much to which professor at Randolph-Macon College will replace him in the House as to who will fill his leadership position within the Republican Party.
Top prospects already are backing away. Jeb Hensarling has announced that he will instead be focusing on his family, his district, and chairing the Financial Services Committee, while the decidedly ambitious Paul Ryan, another favorite for the post, has said he’s just not interested in the position. Funny, that’s exactly what the ruthless pragmatist of House of Cards, Frank Underwood, would say.
People close to Ryan have noted his desire to serve as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. But perhaps more tellingly, he ran as vice president on the Republican ticket in 2012, and were he to appear on the ticket again in 2016, being the party’s designated majority leader might not be the most strategic position to be in.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has the overwhelming support of the party (though Pete Sessions is still in the running), and were Ryan to challenge him for the position, he’d risk losing the leadership race and alienating members whose good will could prove precious to him down the road. What’s more, as Underwood would surely note, majority leaders make a lot of enemies doing all that horse trading and deal cutting, particularly at a time when the GOP is going through so many transformations and reinventions.
The irony is that when actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Underwood as House majority whip and later as president, was studying up for the role, he shadowed McCarthy on the Hill. McCarthy was “very generous” with him, Spacey later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, adding, “I don’t envy him the position.”
McCarthy may not have much in common with Underwood’s merciless personality. Indeed, McCarthy is known for his congeniality, and, as he once noted to Business Insider, he and his colleagues “don’t murder animals or members or anything like that.” But it’s also true that if he’s chosen as leader, his rise on Capitol Hill would be unprecedented. Sound familiar?
Slate’s Dave Weigel recently remarked that he’s grown to hate people saying, “It’s just like House of Cards!” whenever anything devious happens. It’s just like politics! And sometimes I agree: Art imitates life. But also, as Oscar Wilde has argued, life imitates art far more.
What We're Following See More »
Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and several public interest groups filed the first major lawsuits Tuesday to block the repeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. The FCC's rules had prohibited Internet providers from slowing down or blocking websites. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the states' suit, said that the FCC’s repeal was “arbitrary” and “capricious” and violates federal law. The suit comes just a day after Democrats in the Senate said they were inching closer to acquiring the votes needed to pass legislation overturning the FCC's rule change. It has garnered the support of all 49 Democratic senators as well as one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
"A former C.I.A. officer suspected of helping China identify the agency’s informants in that country has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Many of the informants were killed in a systematic dismantling of the C.I.A.’s spy network in China starting in 2010 that was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years, several former intelligence officials have said. The arrest of the former agent, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China."
"Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. The resignation of nine out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks. It also underscores the extent to which federal advisory bodies have become marginalized under the Trump administration."
"House GOP leaders on Tuesday night pitched a new strategy to avert a looming government shutdown that includes children's health funding and the delay of ObamaCare taxes. Lawmakers need to pass a short-term stopgap bill by midnight Friday, when money for the federal government runs out. The latest GOP plan would keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 16, and be coupled with a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The continuing resolution or CR would also delay ObamaCare's medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years, and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019."
"A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown." Marc Short, the White House Capitol Hill liaison, said he's optimistic about a deal on DACA overall, but not this week. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also said he doubts an agreement can be made before week's end.