This purity-over-progress approach not only makes life difficult for the speaker. It makes the entire Republican conference look like a bunch of obstructionist zealots. This can play well in deep-MAGA districts, but not so much in battlefield areas. Those are, to be sure, increasingly rare. But with a majority this slim, House conservatives are playing with fire. All Democrats have to do is flip a handful of seats to take the gavel out of Mr. McCarthy’s hand. They could, for example, pick up some ground unexpectedly lost to Republicans in New York in the midterms (starting with George Santos’ district). And they could take a seat or two thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act that can lead to various Southern states redraw their congressional districts to address sketchy gerrymandering. (Alabama had already received his marching orders.)

Even if Republicans hold their own in the House — where, to be fair, a certain level of insanity was expected — the sidekicks’ shenanigans do nothing to help the party’s brand. Many, many Americans are tired of political chaos and the resulting backlash. And many are especially tired of it on the issue of abortion, which drew key numbers of swing voters to Democrats in last year’s midterms. But time and time again, Mr. McCarthy’s troops seem dead set on signaling that the GOP is a bunch of bombshells hurling fringe residents actively trying not to govern. Swing voters aren’t all that keen on posturing, do-nothing Congress either.

Some members of the Republican House are put off by these political games. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, for example, was eavesdropped Thursday drops all kinds of colorful language, including an “f” bomb or two, about people being forced to vote on the abortion amendment, according to Politico. Although Mrs. Mace didn’t mind shortening her pejorative. Nor, it should be noted, did she risk voting against the offending amendment, much less the overall bill. “It will not pass the Senate anyway; it doesn’t matter,” she said The Hill.

It doesn’t matter. Well, except that, going forward, Mrs. Mace can expect the situation to get a lot worse. However much blood and tears have been shed over the NDAA, they are nothing compared to the carnage anticipated in the impending cage match over government funding. Already the hardliners have made it clear that they will cause as many problems as possible to achieve their off-the-beaten-path goals. In protest against the debt agreement, a group of conservatives ground action on the House floor to a halt for several days in June during lobbying (or, if you prefer, blackmail) the speaker to give them more power – including more freedom to cut spending beyond the levels set in the debt-ceiling agreement. With the conservative knife at his throat, Mr. McCarthy allowed the conference to move forward with appropriations proposals that do just that.

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