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House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

Jeffries: No regrets on McCarthy ouster

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has “no” regrets about Democrats voting to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speakership — even if Jim Jordan wins the gavel.

“Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan have a different demeanor, but they practice the same extreme right-wing ideology,” Jeffries told us in an interview Monday night.

“They both voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election … to criminalize abortion care and impose a nationwide ban and … to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it,” Jeffries added.

Jeffries’ comments come as Republicans continue their so-far futile effort to choose McCarthy’s successor. While the eight House Republicans who voted against McCarthy on the floor have been lambasted by their colleagues, GOP lawmakers are also trying to shift some of the blame for the current debacle onto Democrats. Republicans argue that if Democrats had voted present or simply not voted — they claim some Democrats suggested that could happen — McCarthy would still be speaker and the current disaster avoided.

Jeffries and Democrats, though, are having none of it. They point out that Democrats voted the same way they did throughout January’s grueling floor fight over electing McCarthy.

Several Democrats also said it doesn’t matter whether McCarthy or Jordan wields the gavel as far as they’re concerned.

“A vote to not vacate is endorsing McCarthy’s agenda. It has been the same as Jordan’s agenda,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) “Jordan supported McCarthy and vice versa.”

“Kevin McCarthy is a man unburdened by shame or principle,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said. “The idea that he’s some Rock of Gibraltar in the institution is just fallacious, it’s totally false.”

Connolly added: “McCarthy is hostile to our interests. Why in the world would we vote for a continuation of that?”

Privately, some Democrats are concerned that the continued GOP dysfunction could drag the House — and the Congress — further into a political morass that hurts the country.

Unlike McCarthy, Jordan as a party leader is an unknown quantity. And Democrats worry that Jordan as speaker could fundamentally change the institution through a new rules package or launching investigations into members or other ideas they haven’t even considered yet.

“If he acts as speaker as he acted on the Judiciary Committee, it will be a nation torn apart,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) told us.

While Jeffries had a cordial working relationship with McCarthy, that doesn’t exist with Jordan. And Jordan has shown zero interest in working with Democrats.

Jeffries made clear he has no intention of softening his posture toward Jordan, even if the Ohio Republican wins the speakership.

“Jim Jordan is a poster child for MAGA extremism,” Jeffries said. “And that will be on full display if House Republicans elevate him to the speaker’s chair.”

Still, Jeffries insisted Democrats would continue to put up the votes necessary to keep the government funded and critical aid flowing to U.S. allies like Israel and Ukraine. Democrats provided the necessary votes to avert a government shutdown last month and raise the debt limit earlier this year.

“Nothing in that regard will change,” Jeffries said.

— Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Mica Soellner

Presented by AARP

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