Donald Trump publicly encouraged Republican Senators to vote against the bipartisan portion of President Biden’s infrastructure package. Fifteen Republican Senators voted last night to advance it anyway. Even as Trump’s grip on the Republican House seems to be nearly as intact as ever, Trump’s grip on the Republican Senate seems to be slipping pretty severely. So what’s going on?
Consider that the Republican House is led by Kevin McCarthy, a political idiot who owes his current job to Trump, and who may therefore be inclined to continue following Trump’s lead no matter how poorly is goes for him. Also consider that the Republican Senate is led by Mitch McConnell, who is overwhelmingly corrupt in his own right, but who cares a whole lot more about his own ambitions than about protecting Trump.
But is the difference between the Republican House and the Republican Senate really as straightforward as the difference in leadership? We may soon find out. McCarthy made an awfully dumb move by refusing to put any of his own House Republicans on the January 6th Committee, which as a result will carry out a very honest investigation led by six Democrats plus Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. As this investigation goes on, will House Republicans in general begin to realize they’ve made a mistake by following McCarthy down this Trump-led rabbit hole?
There are plenty of House Republicans who still believe that they need Donald Trump’s blessing – or that they at least need to avoid his wrath – in order to keep their own seats in 2022. But in this week’s Texas special election for a U.S. House seat, the Trump-endorsed Republican lost by seven points to another Republican candidate. Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be of that much help to Republican politics these days, even in a red state like Texas.
Then there’s the reality that as the January 6th investigation continues, things are likely to get a lot uglier for Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. House Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mo Brooks will likely be called as witnesses. If they lawyer up and try to fight the subpoenas, it’ll mean that they fear criminal prosecution.
The public will grow angrier about January 6th, and voters in the middle may look to take out their frustrations on Republicans in the midterms. If that’s the direction this heads in, House Republicans who aren’t directly connected to the Capitol attack may begin looking for a way to insulate themselves from it by publicly standing against the insurrectionists. They could turn against McCarthy in the process. So maybe the dam really is about to break.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report