Juan Williams: The GOP can't govern

Juan Williams: The GOP can't govern
© Greg Nash

The odds favor the GOP keeping its Senate majority in November.

But what if Republicans beat the odds and also keep the House?

Can anyone unite the bitter, dysfunctional GOP House conference, which remains at the heart of the federal government dysfunction and has the lowest public approval rating of any branch of government?

ADVERTISEMENT
The troubles of the current House Republican leadership began when the House Freedom Caucus forced the resignation of a pragmatic conservative, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerNancy Pelosi had disastrous first 100 days as Speaker of the House Blockchain could spark renaissance economy 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Ohio), in 2015.

Those same hardline members derailed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE’s (R-Calif.) bid to replace BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerNancy Pelosi had disastrous first 100 days as Speaker of the House Blockchain could spark renaissance economy 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE because they labeled him as weak and insufficiently conservative.

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) originally did not want the Speaker's job but was drafted into it when his colleagues begged him, arguing he was the only Republican they were willing to support. 

Since Ryan became Speaker in 2015, one major thing has changed: the takeover of the GOP by Donald J. Trump.

Since then, the same House conservatives who rendered Ryan and Boehner incapable of governing or passing major legislation have kept their seats. Meanwhile, GOP moderates have fled in a season of record Republican retirements.

Most of the Freedom Caucus members hail from safe red districts, often gerrymandered, and they are likely to return in the 116th Congress with increased seniority. 

They will be representing the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity-Drudge Report fans who say Republicans need to be even more combative and enthusiastic in their support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE.

To win favor with the far-right corner of the House GOP, McCarthy developed a close personal relationship with Trump. He has remained one of the few members of Congress to regularly talk, visit and golf with the president. 

McCarthy is a Trump apologist and makes no apologies about it. 

With that crass strategy in play, McCarthy has stiff-armed House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure This week: Democrats revive net neutrality fight MORE (R-La.) and other hard-right members for the top spot. 

McCarthy will inherit a GOP majority that since the 2010 elections has proven itself incapable of delivering on its campaign promises. In the last two years, they have fallen flat on almost all of President Trump's campaign promises as well.

Here's their sad record:

They didn't pass "repeal and replacement" of ObamaCare as they said they would.

They did nothing to bring down the national debt or balance the federal budget. In fact, they blew another trillion dollar hole in it with recent tax cuts for the wealthy.

There is no plan or funding to build a border wall.

And they have no plan for comprehensive immigration reform or a permanent fix for young people who grew up here or even served in the military — the so-called Dreamers. 

Finally, they have no plan to get control of entitlement spending. That was Ryan's dream from his first day in Congress and it never happened.

The House GOP did, however, vote to raise the debt ceiling and voted to fully fund Planned Parenthood.

Are far-right voters screaming yet? 

After the GOP Congress sent Trump a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March, he signed it saying "I'll never sign another bill like this again.”

Last week, lo and behold, the president signed another bill just like the March omnibus. This one has more deficit spending and again, no border wall. 

The Congressional GOP did pass the Trump tax cuts but they have been a dud with voters who realize that 80 percent of the benefits go to the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

A voter who backed any of these so-called conservative Republicans in the last four elections deserves to get his or her vote back. Conservative voters were given a lot of red meat on the campaign trail and in their media diet but only now can see they bought the sizzle and never got the steak. 

A McCarthy-led House GOP would have one job and one job only: to defend Trump from Democratic attacks, investigations, and impeachment proceedings. They have already shown they are willing to do that.

Let’s not forget it was Ryan who allowed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump hits Twitter: 'They don't treat me well as a Republican' Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Schiff, Nunes pressed DOJ for Mueller briefing MORE (R-Calif.) to run wild. Nunes protected Trump from the Russia probe.

Ryan spent eight years carping about the need for more oversight of President Obama but when it when he came time to provide oversight of Trump, he did nothing.

And when Ryan's political obituary is written — or when he attempts a political comeback as, say, Governor of Wisconsin — he will have to explain his failure to stand up to Trump. 

Since Article One of the Constitution requires impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, the most consequential political battle of 2019 will not be between Donald Trump and Bob Mueller. 

It may well be between two Californians — House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Julián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Swalwell on impeachment: 'We're on that road' after Mueller report MORE (D) and McCarthy — as they try to control their members in the 116th Congress.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, "'What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?' — Trump's War on Civil Rights" is out now, published by Public Affairs Books.