Robert Reich: The Last Exit Ramp For Non-MAGA Republicans – OpEd


The question now is whether the deadlock among House Republicans over choosing a Speaker might propel the few Republican “moderates” to join with Democrats in electing a Speaker who’s not beholden to the extreme MAGAs. 

I hesitate to call them “moderates” because they’re still to the right of most Americans. But they are anti-Trump and anti-MAGA. For this reason, they hold in their hands the future of the Republican Party, as well as the future of the 118th Congress.

By my rough count, there are some 40 Republican Representatives — many from purple districts — who might be willing to vote with Democrats in selecting a Speaker.  

If they do not do so soon, the MAGA extremists in the House may get their way. 

What would that mean? As conditions for getting their votes, the MAGA extremists are demanding:

(1) a rule allowing them to oust Kevin McCarthy (or whomever they support for Speaker) at any time, should that person fail to bow to their demands in the future; 

(2) another that would allow them to use spending bills to defund particular programs and fire or reduce the pay of federal officials; 

(3) a pledge to hold votes on a balanced budget, term limits, and more border security; 

and, I’m also hearing 

(4) a pledge not to bring to the House floor a bill increasing the debt ceiling. This would constitute a wildly irresponsible act that would lead to a shutdown of the U.S. government, threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, and endanger the entire economy.  

There is still time for a deal to be struck between the few anti-MAGA Republicans in the House and House Democrats to elect an anti-MAGA Republican as Speaker. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton? Ohio Rep. David Joyce?

What should Dems seek in return for their votes? A power-sharing agreement similar to the one negotiated in the last Senate, whereby each party gets the same number of seats on all committees.

Friday will be the second anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. That attack provided a giant exit ramp for Republican lawmakers who wanted to get off the MAGA extremist Trump highway. But few took it.

The midterm elections of 2022 provided another exit ramp, when Republicans saw voters reject the MAGA extremists. Some Republicans have quietly taken it.

The current chaos surrounding the election of a new Speaker provides a third exit ramp. This one may be the last. 

If every House Democrat joins them, only five House Republicans could elect the next Speaker. Surely there are five who believe in governing?

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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