Opinion: House Republicans struggle to govern

This week’s ouster of U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy shouldn’t have surprised anyone on Capitol Hill, given that the more conservative wing of the GOP hasn’t been satisfied with any Republican leader in Congress.

Since the Tea Party election of 2010, Republicans have mainly been good at one thing — attacking their own.

Speaker John Boehner couldn’t tame his party’s rebels and ultimately resigned. Speaker Paul Ryan gave up after a few years.

Kevin McCarthy couldn’t even last as Speaker for nine months, dogged on a daily basis by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and others.

It wasn’t hard to sense the outrage among Republicans, as eight GOP lawmakers joined Democrats in giving McCarthy the boot.

“I think those eight people should be purged from the Republican Party,” said an angry U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton.

Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Is Gaetz secretly an agent for the Democratic Party?” Gingrich tweeted.

For all of his ethics troubles as Speaker, Gingrich had his share of legislative accomplishments. That’s not a feature of the current GOP.

Republicans did produce the Trump tax cuts in 2017, but the vow to repeal the Obama health law simply faded away.

Despite repeated calls for dramatic change on spending and deficits, House Republicans haven’t even been able to agree on how much the feds should spend next year.

Two years ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had the same slim majority that the GOP currently enjoys, where just a handful of members could derail anything.

Democrats worked through their differences and produced a series of major legislative wins for President Biden.

No one sees that on the horizon for the GOP.

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” McCarthy complained to reporters. “That doesn’t work.”

The new brand of Republicans in Congress is really good at one thing — producing outrage in the media.

What they aren’t as good at is producing legislative results.

“Accountability is coming,” U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Suwanee, and other Georgia Republicans have repeatedly said since they took control of the U.S. House in January.

But since then, it’s been mostly talk.

In the past two weeks, Republicans held a hearing that undercut their own impeachment claims against President Biden, failed to come together on funding the government, and then splintered over the ouster of a GOP Speaker.

Democrats could hardly believe what they were seeing.

“It just shows the level of dysfunction,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.

And it’s hard to see how a new GOP Speaker will turn that around.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com