Kevin McCarthy Set a Record for Talking. Democrats Passed Landmark Legislation

On Wednesday, Kevin McCarthy claimed he wanted to focus on the “serious” issues facing the country instead of the unhinged murder meme Paul Gosar posted about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But on Thursday, when Democrats moved on from their colleague’s shitposting to take on those very issues, McCarthy had nothing to offer but more trolling and obstruction—a reflection of the emptiness at the heart of the contemporary GOP.

Democrats on Thursday were prepared to finally vote on President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate bill after a Congressional Budget Office analysis found that Build Back Better would add $367 billion to the deficit over the next decade, an increase that the White House and Treasury Department say will be more than paid for in tax revenue. But McCarthy temporarily blocked the vote with a marathon eight hour and 32 minute speech on the House floor, breaking the modern record Nancy Pelosi set in 2018 as she spoke in support of Dreamers. In that eight hour and seven minute address, Pelosi mostly stuck to the issue at hand, devoting much of her “magic minute” to reading the testimonies of the young, undocumented immigrants she and the Democrats wanted to be protected in a government funding bill that year. McCarthy, by contrast, was more meandering. Sure, he made clear his opposition to the Biden legislation, lamenting the price tag, calling the plan “reckless,” and suggesting it was inspired by “countries that are a different philosophy than America.” But the bulk of the speech was spent leveling bad-faith attacks at Democrats, attempting to secure his leadership position in Donald Trump’s GOP, and trying to one-up Pelosi, whose job he wants to take in next year’s midterms.

“I want her to hand that gavel to me,” McCarthy said at one point in his remarks.

It was, of course, an exercise in futility. Hours after he finally stopped speaking Friday morning, House Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion bill, sending the historic legislation to the Senate. If signed into law, notes CNBC, “the bill will profoundly change how many Americans live, especially families with children, the elderly and low income Americans.” Notably, the House passed it in the light of day, allowing Biden and the Democrats to bask in their hard-fought—though incomplete—political victory just as the Friday news cycle was revving up. “Hallelujah!” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement shortly after the bill prevailed in the House. “Now the Senate must seize the momentum, pass this bill, and send it to the Oval Office. Working families can’t afford for the Senate to fail.”

But McCarthy knew the overnight spectacle could only delay the inevitable. He also knew that his true audience was not in the lower chamber, but down in Palm Beach, perhaps catching up on the news after a day on the golf course. Indeed, McCarthy’s hopes to take Pelosi’s gavel rely not only on Republicans taking back the House in next year’s midterms, but on staying in Trump’s good graces—and, just on Thursday, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows slammed McCarthy’s leadership in a podcast interview with Matt Gaetz and suggested, in a separate interview with Steve Bannon, that the former president should be installed as House Speaker if the GOP regains the majority. (The Speaker doesn’t have to be a member of Congress.) “People would go crazy,” Meadows told Bannon.

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