There are two things going on here in parallel to each other which the casual news reader might confuse, but it’s important to keep them straight. There’s an effort among some House Republicans, most notably Chip Roy, to slow down House business as a way of protesting Democratic attempts to fast-track legislation. Specifically, the GOP is pissed off that Dems changed the procedure for motions to recommit, which Republicans had successfully used to force changes to bills at the last minute in the past. Roy and other GOPers were so irritated by that that they recently threatened to force a slew of roll-call votes on “suspension” bills, i.e. uncontroversial bills with more than two-thirds support of the entire House. (One such bill was to award the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who fought off the Capitol rioters on January 6.) A roll-call vote on each would have taken an hour or more since members of the House aren’t all present on the floor at the same time in the age of COVID. Faced with a long delay at a moment when they were eager to proceed to the COVID relief bill, Dems pulled the suspension bills from the floor temporarily to avert that.
In other words, Roy et al. wanted to send a message about how House Democrats are doing business and they sent it. If the majority intends to limit the minority’s rights by limiting the motion to recommit then the minority will have to use other procedural tactics to make its objections clear. Whether they target “suspension” bills again or not to make their point is momentarily an open question, with Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy reportedly having discussed the matter. Even House Republicans who object to Democratic tactics don’t want to be forced into interminable late-night votes on matters which they know will pass easily.
While that’s been going on, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been engaged in obstruction of her own. More than once lately she’s forced a floor vote on adjourning the House. That vote is doomed to fail, of course, since Democrats control the majority, but the matter requires House members to carve an hour or so out of their day to go down to the floor and cast their ballot. That means hearings are disrupted and meetings with constituents are delayed — whatever they’re busy doing when Greene makes her demand. The point of this obstruction is … not fully clear. It doesn’t appear aimed at any particular procedural injustice. It’s more a combo of Greene wanting to strike back at Dems for stripping her of her committee assignments and wanting to register her objection to leftism with any tool available.
The problem is that it’s not just Democrats who have to come vote on her motions. Her colleagues in the GOP have to as well. And they’re getting more annoyed by the day,“It’s frustrating,” said Rep. Fred Upton, a veteran Michigan Republican. “I don’t see that this is resonating at home, the motions to adjourn. I mean it’s just a pain. It’s a pain in the ass.”McCarthy reportedly warned the caucus yesterday that if they’re going to obstruct there has to be a clear strategic goal in mind, as there is with Roy and his colleagues blocking the suspension bills. But no one takes McCarthy seriously so Greene objected again today, the fourth time in recent weeks. The result: No fewer than 40 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats against adjournment.
“It’s just pissing everyone off,” said one senior House Republican member, asking for anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.
“Tactics without reason, they go nowhere,” said Rep. Buddy Carter, a Georgia Republican. “So you’ve got to have a game plan. You just have to ask about the game plan there.”
Added Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw: “I’m not voting for any more motions to adjourn. These things are the games that both sides play. I’m not a fan of it from either side.”