Dems bide their time before deciding to help House GOP out of latest jam

Dems bide their time before deciding to help House GOP out of latest jam

House Democrats are at a crossroads — again — as they consider whether to bail out a flailing GOP.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Thursday abandoned a third speaker’s ballot for the moment, instead endorsing a temporary measure to formally empower an acting Republican speaker.

It’s a move that Democrats have awaited, and in many cases, embraced. But Jordan threw a wrench into the entire Hill’s expectations by indicating he would remain the GOP’s formal pick for speaker, keeping his party’s biggest megaphone.

That puts House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries into another difficult position as his party debates whether to help reopen the floor — letting critical measures like government funding or aid for Israel and Ukraine get voted on — or to watch Republicans squirm.

During a private caucus meeting on Thursday, Jeffries’ message was essentially to “wait and see” if Republicans make a formal offer in exchange for Democratic help on a vote to empower McHenry.

While quipping that Jordan was the equivalent of dream-haunting killer Freddy Krueger, Jeffries laid out several conditions for whoever Democrats might support as acting speaker: Someone who voted to certify the 2020 election, for instance (as McHenry did).

Democrats don’t know exactly how many of their votes the GOP would need on the floor. House Republicans are expected to take an internal survey on the measure in the coming hours.

“We’re just waiting to see what they come up with … So let’s see what really comes out of [GOP conference]. I hope it’s that Mr. Jordan has decided to do lesser and smaller things. And there’s room to talk,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said that “conversations are continuing until one or two things happen: They’re successful and find a way to move forward. Or, you know our Republican colleagues — demonstrate that they’re not yet ready to move forward.”

As recently as Wednesday, centrist Democrats had been largely on board with a plan to empower McHenry, even without specific concessions, to avoid a shutdown and expedite a response to escalating foreign crises. Those centrist votes, however, could now be in question.

A group of moderate Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus plans to huddle virtually Thursday afternoon to discuss the matter, according to a person familiar with discussions. Several of them had been in discussions with the author of the GOP’s McHenry resolution, Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), about specific assurances that funding bills would come to the floor.

Yet putting those requirements into legislative text ran into parliamentary problems, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Liberal Democrats, for their part, were clear that they opposed the idea of empowering McHenry.

“It is a big problem. And I think it is a big problem because the kinds of assurances that our leader has talked about needing — to make sure that we are not putting this body into the hands of insurrection and election deniers, and that we are really moving only on a bipartisan path are issues that are important to all of us,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said.

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