Most observers agreed that it was inevitable, but on Wednesday night, the lingering uncertainty was finally resolved: House Republicans fell far short of expectations in the midterm elections, but they’d crossed the numeric threshold and secured a majority in the next Congress.
Some of the immediate focus was on the inescapability of legislative gridlock: Whatever the incoming GOP majority might want to pass will likely die given Democratic control of the Senate and the White House. But Thursday morning, I made the case that this probably won’t matter, at least not much, because Republicans aren’t especially interested in legislating anyway.
This is, after all, a post-policy party, indifferent toward governing. Republicans will obsess over Hunter Biden and pursue impeachment crusades, but as a New York Times analysis summarized, “Their agenda is investigative, not legislative.”
And as Thursday progressed, GOP lawmakers were kind enough to effectively endorse the thesis.
CNN got the ball rolling with this report, quoting Republican Rep. Brian Mast talking up the prospect of government shutdowns now that his party is poised to take control. “Nobody’s ever really liked (government shutdowns),” the Floridian said. “But I think you’re in a different state of play right now, where people will be, in part, pining for government shutdowns.”
Soon after, it was time for a head-spinning Capitol Hill press conference. Talking Points Memo reported:
Key soon-to-be House Republican committee chairs, flanked by members with funereal expressions and unintelligible visual aids, unveiled their big investigatory plans for January: something something Hunter Biden. For those not well-versed in the rabbit holes of the right’s Hunter Biden fixation, the “crimes” were a bit hard to follow.
At one point, one of the reporters covering the event asked the lawmakers a substantive question unrelated to the GOP conspiracy theories. Republican Rep. James Comer, who will soon lead the House Oversight Committee, quickly tried to nip the line of inquiry in the bud.
“If we could keep it about Hunter Biden, this is kind of a big deal, we think,” the Kentucky congressman said.
To be sure, the assembled Republicans certainly seemed to believe their Hunter Biden conspiracy theories were “kind of a big deal,” but to those of us without far-right decoder rings, the entire pitch was a mess.
Soon after, Republican Chip Roy, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told NBC News that he supports impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, adding, “It’s not even a close call.”
For good measure, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, confirming earlier reporting, told Capitol Hill journalists that incoming GOP leaders are, in fact, on board with “investigations into the treatment of pre-trial Jan. 6 defendants.”
All of this happened literally the first day after the party secured its House majority. This should’ve been a day in which Republicans proved that they’re prepared to govern and lead the people’s House. They did the opposite.
What Americans saw was a party that’s fundamentally unserious. On Thursday, it appeared the GOP was hardly even trying.