Kevin McCarthy speaks for more than eight hours to delay House vote
WASHINGTON – California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House Leader, spoke at 8:38 p.m. determined to make history even though he had no hope of derailing the bill from around $ 2 trillion from Democrats to strengthen the social safety net and fight climate change.
Eight hours and 32 minutes later, he stopped speaking, a few groggy Republicans left to applaud his performance. The coup did nothing to break Democrats’ resolve to pass the legislation, but it set a record for the longest continuous speech in the House in modern history, surpassing the one President Nancy Pelosi set in 2018. , when she held the current position of Mr. McCarthy. of minority leader. For Mr McCarthy, it may have also bolstered his campaign to take over Ms Pelosi’s post, becoming the next speaker if Republicans take control in next year’s midterm election.
“Personally, I didn’t think I could last that long,” Mr McCarthy said near the end of his grueling, winding and at times absurd monologue, as some of the people behind him struggled to keep their eyes open. Finally, after 5 a.m., he finished. “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield,” he said.
Mrs. Pelosi had left hours before.
Mr. McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, blocked a vote scheduled for Thursday as he rose up against President Biden and his platform. But the Californian had another goal: to gain the respect – and perhaps support – of reluctant conservatives in his party, who have been told repeatedly by their leader, Donald J. Trump, that other Republican leaders do. had not fought enough the Democrats. Hours after he finished his speech, Republicans punched and patted him on the back as he arrived in the House to vote.
“You galvanize people, don’t you? You grab people’s attention and show them that we are determined to fight, ”said Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas known for forcing procedural delays. He added, “Look, I want the leader to fight, and that was good. Go fight. Let’s fight more. Let’s throw away everything we have on this nonsense.
Democrats said all he accomplished was to ensure that passage in the House of one of the most important domestic policy bills in half a century happened in broad daylight.
“I thought McCarthy was addressing the issues he was having in his own caucus,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He argued that the “far-reaching and successful implications” of the legislation would far outweigh the rhetoric.
Debate on the bill was scheduled to last 20 minutes before Mr McCarthy – who is not known for his soaring oratory – took over to deliver a roundabout and rambling speech crammed with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated by riffs on the story. He covered President Ronald Reagan’s missile defense initiative, his personal friendship with Tesla founder Elon Musk, and, at one point, a lengthy dissertation on the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River en route to the Battle of Trenton.
China has come back a lot and on several occasions: its responsibility for the coronavirus, its hypersonic missile and its models of American battleships. As an aside, he suggested that even the Chinese would not beef up the Internal Revenue Service to force its citizens to pay their taxes like the Democrats did in their bill.
As the clock ticked around midnight and then long after, Mr McCarthy seemed to lose track at times, spouting what sounded like Republican attacks madness.
“Inflation is at an all-time high of 31%, gas prices, Thanksgiving, a border that in just a few months breaks all the records of the last three years combined,” he shouted at one point.
The whole speech felt like a circular loop, tackling the same issues over and over again. When Ms Pelosi renounced a vote and fired Democrats after midnight, he said his opponents could leave, but he would not.
“I know some of you are mad at me, think I spoke too long,” he said. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a diehard Republican from North Carolina, sat behind him, stuffing his lip with chewing tobacco and spit in a cup. Mr. McCarthy, for his part, supported himself with peppermint candies, unwrapped one by one by helpers.
In the end, he didn’t even convince all Republicans on his right flank that he might need to run for president. At Radio show by Steve Bannon, featuring Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, blamed Republican leaders and party moderates for passing the Social Policy Bill because, he said, they helped pass the Social Policy Bill. related infrastructure earlier this month.
“Although we heard Chief McCarthy speak for a long time, it was like a very long death-rattle,” said Gaetz. “The outcome was already determined due to bad leadership and bad strategy.”
While the House has no equivalent to filibustering the Senate, Mr. McCarthy has used the so-called “magic minute,” a House custom that allows leaders to speak for as long as they want. wish when recognized for their one minute talk. Ms Pelosi used the tactic when she was Minority Leader in 2018 to speak for just over eight hours about undocumented youth known as Dreamers.
Ms Pelosi’s speech was believed at the time to set the record for the longest continuous speech in the chamber, dating to at least 1909.
“It’s a feat of epic proportions to speak for four straight hours and not produce a single memorable sentence, original glimpse or even a joke,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, wrote on Twitter. “McCarthy thinks he’s got wit, but so far he’s proven he’s only half right.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, who tried to intervene twice during Mr. McCarthy’s speech, said the Republican leader had “auditioned for his base”.
“I think he meant he did it longer than Nancy Pelosi,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday. “But if he wanted to outdo her, he should have done it in stilettos.”
Emily cochrane contributed reports.