Opinion: These are not normal times on Capitol Hill

With little to show for their work in the 118th Congress, Republicans in the U.S. House returned this week to what they seem to do best — fighting with each other while struggling to advance their party’s agenda.

But you shouldn’t frame current events in Congress as a boilerplate legislative struggle between Republicans and Democrats. This is mainly about what’s happening inside the GOP.

Since taking over the House last year, Republicans have demonstrated a peculiar inability to govern. It is not a normal situation by any means.

Deals are made and then reneged on. Bills are passed by the GOP House, but never sent to the Senate. It’s almost like some Republicans don’t want to make laws.

For example, when House Speaker Mike Johnson said this week he would force votes on aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, several House Republicans immediately demanded the addition of provisions on illegal immigration and border security.

But earlier this year, Republicans scuttled that exact same combination of foreign aid and border security policy changes.

Sitting on the sidelines, Democrats can’t believe what they’re watching in the House.

“These guys are so bad at legislating, they’re even bad at not legislating,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Not even six months after the House made history by ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy, current House Speaker Mike Johnson is hearing the same kind of GOP footsteps. Attacking him daily, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, turned up the heat this week by calling on Johnson to quit.

“Speaker Johnson must announce a resignation date,” Greene said, labeling him the ‘Deep State Speaker’ — a sort of modern-day Manchurian Candidate beholden to Democrats.

“I am not resigning,” Johnson told reporters, making a statement that didn’t exactly convey a position of strength.

“Any attempt to remove the Speaker now is unnecessary,” argued U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Lithonia.

Whether Johnson stays or goes, the underlying GOP dysfunction is clear to those in the party who want to see it.

“Instead of bickering amongst themselves,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, “Republicans should do their damn job and vote on the important issues facing our nation.”

For reporters on Capitol Hill, it’s not hard to tell which party is more divided right now.

“All you guys want is drama,” U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, told us outside the Capitol.

But when asked for his opinion on Speaker Johnson, Clyde turned on his heel and left.

No matter the answer, the internal GOP drama continues to overshadow the work of Congress. And that isn’t normal.

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