Congressman Salud Carbajal | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

This first appeared on Newsmakers with JR.

On Wednesday, Republicans narrowly nominated Rep. Steve Scalise to be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, but GOP leaders promptly adjourned the chamber because the right-wing Louisiana congressman still lacks the votes to win election to the powerful post.

The instant reaction to the news from Santa Barbara’s Man in Washington, Rep. Salud Carbajal: “Likely continued chaos.”

Salud checked in from Capitol Hill for a conversation with Newsmakers on a day when the U.S. response to the barbaric and murderous surprise attacks by Hamas terrorists against civilians in Israel not only eclipsed the high-stakes intrigue and maneuvering over the second-in-line-to-the-presidency Speakership, but also emphasized the real world peril of political dysfunction that has brought business in the House to a halt.

Fresh from a secret White House briefing about the fast-moving and treacherous Mideast situation, Carbajal said that the Biden Administration would ensure that Israel has “all the resources it needs,” as a new coalition government prepared for an all-out assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip; he also ventured that, despite a possible government shutdown looming next month, the turmoil in the House would not impede delivery of U.S. support for Israel, even as Scalise reportedly promised GOP colleagues to lead the blockade of budget approvals, absent implausibly large fiscal concessions by the Administration.

The intersection of intraparty Republican feuding with national security concerns also overhangs continued U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, as it defends itself against a war of aggression by Russia. Opposition to Ukraine aid has become an increasingly popular position among Republicans, since Donald Trump first staked out the pro-Russia stance, but Carbajal asserted that Ukraine still enjoys strong bipartisan majority support in the House and Senate.

Still, Ukraine aid was one of the underlying issues that led to the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week, when every House Democrat voted with eight Republican extremists to “vacate the chair,” the first time in history an incumbent Speaker was voted out during their term.

More seriously, the GOP’s anti-McCarthy faction targeted him for forging compromises with the White House over two crucial economic matters: raising the nation’s debt limit and extending the deadline for congressional approval of appropriations bills to avert a government shutdown several weeks ago.

Significantly, Scalise voted for the extreme position on both matters, raising questions about his willingness to negotiate over budget legislation in advance of a Nov. 17 deadline for passage of appropriations bills to avert yet another threatened shutdown. As a practical matter, Scalise still needs to secure the votes of at least 217 of 221 House Republicans to win the Speakership.

It seems unlikely the House will go back into session unless and until he does. (Editor’s note: Scalise announced late Thursday that he is withdrawing from the contest for Speaker, making Salud’s Wednesday forecast of increased chaos look on-the-nose.)

On other issues we discussed, Carbajal:

  • Described the $2.6 million in cash on hand of his 2024 election fund as necessary to finance “a grassroots campaign” for his bid for a fifth term, despite the overwhelming expectation he will enjoy another walkover victory.
  • Shrugged off public opinion research that shows a vast number of Americans — 77 percent in the most recent Associated Press survey — believe the 80-year President is too old to serve another term, and insisted that it is a dearth of effective messaging about the Administration’s accomplishments, not Biden’s age, that underpins his poor polling performance in projected match-ups with Trump.
  • Asserted there is “strong unity” among House Democrats in “standing with Israel,” despite well-publicized comments by several left-wing caucus members who have called for ending military aid or blamed Israel for the Hamas attacks.
  • Surmised that Iran was involved in the planning and financing of the Hamas attacks, because its leaders are longtime patrons of the terrorist group, agreeing with a suggestion that its leaders may view the attack as a way to disrupt recent bids to soften long-hostile relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief rival in the Arab world.
  • Touted his proposed legislation to tax energy and other corporations for carbon emissions (Salud sharply objected to our use of the word “tax,” insisting it was a “fee”) and to distribute the money raised to American families to help ease increased costs expected to arise during a proposed to green energy sources.

All this and more, right here, right now, on Newsmakers TV.

You can watch our conversation with Rep. Carbajal via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Cox Cable Channel 17, broadcasts our show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday,.


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