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McCarthy’s winning streak

Josh Kraushaar Article
Thought Leader: Josh Kraushaar
July 24, 2023
Source: AXIOS

One of the defining skills of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) tenure is his ability to identify issues that divide moderate Democrats from their more progressive counterparts.

Why it matters: On issues ranging from crime, immigration, energy policy, COVID-19 mandates and, most recently, Israel, McCarthy has brought bills to the floor that win bipartisan support from Republicans and a sizable number of Democrats — while both marginalizing and raising the profile of polarizing progressives.

Driving the news: The most recent headache for House Democrats came this week after Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) called Israel “a racist state” during a progressive panel.

The big picture: This has been a familiar pattern on the House floor. The GOP’s biggest victory came during the debate over Washington, D.C.’s crime bill, when Republicans worked to overturn the local City Council’s less-punitive rewrite of the criminal code.

Zoom in: Republicans also point to several other areas in which they’ve divided Democrats on issues that resonate with voters.

What they’re saying: “It is normally easy to stay united in the minority, but Speaker McCarthy continues to find ways to divide Democrats and divide House Democrats from the White House,” said Dan Conston, president of the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC.

Reality check: Republicans have been taking tough political votes too, with McCarthy pressured to placate an empowered right-wing faction of Republicans.

The bottom line: A central maxim of politics: The party that’s united is the one that’s winning.

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