Jeffries Sums Up Last Week: America Will Continue To Be ‘Held Captive’ By ‘Extreme MAGA Republican Agenda’

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks after US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on the 15th ballot at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 7, 202... Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks after US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on the 15th ballot at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2023. - Kevin McCarthy's election to his dream job of speaker of the US House of Representatives was secured through a mix of bombproof ambition, a talent for cutting deals and a proven track record of getting Republicans what they need. He only won election as speaker after they forced him to endure 15 rounds of voting -- a torrid spectacle unseen in the US Capitol since 1859. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said the concessions Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made to the MAGA-infused conservative holdouts in order to become speaker is “just the beginning” of “dysfunction” for the GOP-led 118th Congress, summing up well the new reality we all witnessed chaotically unfolding on the House floor last week.

“Our general concern is that the dysfunction that was historic that we saw this week is not at an end, it’s just the beginning,” Jeffries told “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday.

But what happened on the House floor last week was not only the beginning of “dysfunction” – it also was the beginning of the MAGA-wing members flexing the obstruction-y power they intend to hold over McCarthy and the rest of the Republican party for the next two years. Last week’s circus was just our first, real, public peek into the humiliation that awaits McCarthy. 

“And while the Congress was held captive this particular time, what is going to be a problem is if the American people will be held captive over the next two years to the extreme MAGA Republican agenda that apparently has been negotiated into the House rules and the functioning of the Congress,” Jeffries added.  

During the four day long speaker elections, McCarthy made a number of consequential promises to the 20 far-right holdouts in exchange for their votes — including giving each member the ability to force a vote to overthrow the speaker. Jeffries raised concerns that some of these promises made during the negotiations could impair — or even immobilize, just like it did last week — the functioning of the House. 

“That’s going to undermine the health, the safety, and the well-being of the American people,” Jeffries said. “It may undermine national security and a robust defense, and undermine our ability to actually advance an agenda that is anchored in kitchen-table pocketbook issues and not extremism.” 

Jeffries also said he will try to reach a “functional House” by trying to work with Speaker McCarthy, adding that if McCarthy and the Republicans are willing to work with Democrats and find common ground, they will “find willing partners.”

“Kevin McCarthy and I’ve had some positive forward looking conversations over the last few weeks and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to build upon those conversations to do the right thing for the American people,” Jeffries added. “Clearly, we’re going to have strong disagreements at times. But we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. That is what I believe the American people would like to see.”

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