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US House of Representatives speaker's resignation is the chaos Trump needs - Ukrainian journalist Portnikov

5 October, 2023 Thursday
15:33

And by and large, it is chaos that Donald Trump needs to prevent further prosecution and then to be re-elected as president of the United States

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For the first time in US history, the removal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a historic event in itself. What makes this removal even more surprising from a historical point of view, as well as important for us politically, is the fact that one of the main reasons for Kevin McCarthy's resignation as Speaker of the House was the issue of assistance to Ukraine.

Kevin McCarthy's critics from the radical Trumpist Republican camp criticized him primarily for trying to negotiate with the US presidential administration not only a temporary budget but also continued funding for Ukraine in a situation where the United States is facing serious problems on the border with Mexico.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress himself, at his press conference after his ouster, compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. He also emphasized that the Russian leader is doing the same thing in his attitude toward Ukraine as Hitler did in the 1930s toward Czechoslovakia and then Poland. McCarthy reminded that all attempts to negotiate with the aggressors, and here he cited the sad experience of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, did not lead to positive results. That is why the former speaker called for further support for Ukraine and emphasized that this is exactly what the United States should do, especially since the current administration has a sad experience of leaving Afghanistan. McCarthy noted that he did not intend to send money to Ukraine, but wanted to help Ukraine with weapons.

Of course, now that the Speaker has resigned, these are his most radical statements on aid to Ukraine during McCarthy's entire tenure. We remember well how, just a few days ago, during the visit of the President of Ukraine to Washington, the Speaker of the House of Representatives refused to allow Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address Congress, reminding him that Zelenskyy is neither a member of Congress nor the President of the United States. Therefore, he does not understand why the president of Ukraine should speak in Congress. And during the meeting with the Ukrainian president, he spoke primarily about controlling money, but it is clear that McCarthy wanted to prevent his own resignation in this way, with this tone.

As a result, the search for compromises, not even among Republicans and Democrats, but among moderate and radical groups within the House of Representatives itself, led to a real fiasco. A fiasco that occurred a few days after McCarthy had agreed with the US Presidential Administration on a 45-day stopgap budget without aid to Ukraine and other important items. And in principle, the House of Representatives should have taken up the issue of creating a permanent budget mechanism. However, none of this will happen now.

A new Speaker of the House of Representatives is to be sought, a Republican, of course, because the Republicans have a fragile majority in the House. However, several questions immediately arise. Which congressman would agree to take the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives in a situation where it is obvious that the Republicans do not have a stable majority in this House and that there is a group of members of the party whose views are radically different from those of all other Republicans in the House? And we are not even talking about supporting Donald Trump, because McCarthy was a supporter of the former US president, just not as radical and tough as those eight congressmen who, together with the Democratic congressmen, voted for no confidence in the speaker.

Another serious lesson is McCarthy's willingness to make concessions to these radical Republicans and create a special opportunity for a vote of no confidence in the Speaker to be brought by any member of the House of Representatives. In previous convocations of the House, such a possibility was excluded in order to allow the Speaker to complete his term, which was regulated by special group opportunities for members. Who would now agree to become a speaker under such an arrangement?

After all, it will be obvious that the new Speaker of the House of Representatives will now be doomed to resign if some of his steps do not please a particular member of the House, supported by at least a small group of Republicans, as we have seen, eight votes is enough. It is the responsibility of the Speaker of the lower house of the U.S. parliament to seek compromise and understanding with the presidential administration on issues such as the budget and funding for state institutions. Because if no such compromise is found, it will mean that the American state simply ceases to function as an institution.

So, in essence, there are 40 days left for congressmen to agree on a new US budget. Instead, it is likely that they will spend this time searching for a new speaker of the House of Representatives.

It is worth recalling that Kevin McCarthy himself was elected in the 17th round of voting, and this is despite the fact that he was supported by 99% of Republicans. They continue to support him even now, despite his refusal to run for re-election. There are no other congressmen who have such support from the Republican faction at the moment. Maybe some compromise figure will emerge, but it will take time.

This means that the issue of adopting the budget is being pushed off for a longer period of time. It also means that there is no one to talk to the US administration about the budget itself or about the mechanisms of assistance to Ukraine, which should be either included in this budget or resolved through a special law or some additional decision. Now we can only guess what mechanisms the US administration envisioned to continue such funding. But until a new Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected, there is simply no one to talk to about this.

In addition, it should be understood that any new speaker is unlikely to be ready for serious compromises after he tries to win the support of the entire Republican faction, both moderate and radical members.

It's also worth noting that former US President Donald Trump, who has unquestioned authority among Republicans and is now approaching the possibility of being nominated as a candidate for the presidency in the 2024 elections by the Republican Party, did not support Kevin McCarthy at a crucial moment. Trump simply remained silent. In this way, he sent a signal to radical Republicans that they can do whatever they want in the House of Representatives.

Why? 

Most of the American media characterized the situation with a precise and obvious word that is synonymous with Trumpism: chaos. And by and large, it is chaos that Donald Trump needs to prevent further prosecution and then be re-elected as president of the United States. Trump is not just dreaming about this as some kind of satisfaction, but as something that is necessary to prevent his possible imprisonment.

And the issue of Ukraine will remain an important part of this political struggle, not the most important, but one of the most important. Thus, it remains to be seen what mechanisms the US presidential administration will find to continue funding military assistance to Ukraine, which, due to the non-election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, may find itself in one of the most difficult situations during Biden's tenure in the White House.

Source

About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, Shevchenko Prize winner.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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