On Tuesday, members of the Congressional Black Caucus held an inspiring swearing-in ceremony, even as Republicans were fighting over who would become the next speaker of the House.
“In the work we do, we honor our history, like the many Black members that served before there was even a Congressional Black Caucus,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, the CBC’s new chairman.
Horsford, 49, counted among the 58 CBC members taking the oath of office, most praised the Biden-Harris administration, spoke glowingly of the CBC’s history, and kept an eye on their Republican counterparts as they tried to find the votes to select a new speaker.
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is 57 and from California, continued to face strong opposition from his own party as he tried to replace outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).
At least six members of the GOP have opposed McCarthy, who needs 218 votes.
Democrats have seized upon the GOP’s inability to unite.
“The 118th Congress has yet to begin, and Americans are already seeing how dysfunctional and disastrous GOP control of the House is going to be,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Washington).
DelBene is the new chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“While House Republicans fight one another in unprecedented ways, and Kevin McCarthy gives in to the most extreme flanks of the Republican Party in desperate plays for their support, Democrats are clear-minded, unified, and eager to get to work for the American people,” she said.
“No matter who becomes Speaker of the House or how many votes it takes, the contrast is clear, and in two short years, voters will reject this chaos and confusion.”
Further complicating McCarthy’s bid, Republicans with a small majority only occupy 222 seats in the 118th Congress, which means there’s enough opposition to block his candidacy.
He needs a majority of the present members to vote for him.
Incoming House Minority Leader, New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said no Democratic party member would be absent for a vote and did not expect any to simply vote “present.”
Headed into Tuesday, there was even the belief that Jeffries, 52, could get more votes than McCarthy in a first round of voting.
But, because the GOP controls the House, he wouldn’t become speaker.
“We’re focused right now on making sure that every single Democrat is present and voting, and I hope to be able to earn everyone’s vote,” said Jefferies, the first African American to lead a party in Congress.
“It’s unfortunate that all we’re seeing is chaos, crisis, confusion, and craziness take hold of the other side of the aisle, as opposed to trying to find common ground to deliver real results for the American people,” Jefferies continued.
“Hopefully, we’ll get to a place sooner rather than later when the Congress can actually function in a way that brings Democrats and Republicans together to get things done for the American people.”
Jeffries and Horsford focused on the historic battles of African Americans.
“Our community’s journey in this country has been a turbulent one. From slavery to Jim Crow, Jim Crow to mass incarceration and mass incarceration to a malignant narcissist in the White House,” Jeffries states.
Horsford added that “this is our opportunity to advance the mission, the vision and the goals of those 13 founders and the 166 Black members of Congress who have served in our nation’s 246 years in both the House and the Senate.”