CONTRIBUTED BY DREW WHITE
The battle for Speaker last week was a necessary step to begin cleansing our nation’s capital of its endemic corruption. Contrary to the wailing and gnashing of teeth emitted by the corporate media, taxpayer-abusing elites on K Street, out-of-touch pundits and unscrupulous political mercenaries in the Republican party establishment, the refusal of 20 conservative “rebels” to bend the knee to the swamp may well have reignited the dormant spark of deliberation in our republic.
The 20 courageous conservatives — led by Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA) — stood their ground, after months of good faith negotiations, to secure changes to the House of Representatives that will allow Congress to better represent the will of the people. Leadership, arrogant in their decades-long belief that conservatives are expendable, not only refused to bargain, but threatened holdout lawmakers just hours before the first vote.
The result was a cathartic political pummeling that had been a long time coming. For those who may have found the process messy and unseemly, welcome to what representative government is supposed to look like. It’s called debate. And it is something we used to do fairly frequently in these United States.
The reforms to the House are myriad and potentially transformational. Among them are new points of order against unauthorized spending, a 72-hour rule to read legislation before it comes to the floor, the ability to target specific accounts within agencies, conservative representation on the Rules Committee which determines the legislative process for bills, the creation of an empowered select committee to expose and disarm the weaponization of federal agencies against the American people and single subject bills that are debated individually and not rolled into massive thousand-page omnibus monstrosities.
Sound good? Those of us who worked with and supported these 20 conservatives knew these changes were worth fighting for, which was why every time the ambitious and purely transactional Kevin McCarthy lost a ballot, we cheered. Every time the Washington cartel saw that their self-assured anointment was not going to plan, the American people were the ones winning.
Sadly, no member of the Alabama congressional delegation was among those fighting for these changes. Conservatives in this state might ought to ponder why that is. Or, perhaps more importantly, reflect on the fact that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) humiliated himself and his state on multiple occasions during this process.
Rogers has long embodied the worst of Washington. He is a creature of corporatist K Street whose real constituents are Boeing and Northrop Grumman, not hard-working Alabamans. He was the leading voice — behind closed doors — to resurrect earmarks, a corrupt process which allows lawmakers to appropriate taxpayer dollars for pet projects to grease the skids for abominable pieces of legislation like the recently-passed $1.7 trillion omnibus.
Rogers was the lawmaker who explicitly threatened the twenty conservatives prior to the first vote for Speaker. In an arrogance only a self-styled mob boss could assume, Rogers informed the entire GOP conference that anyone who dared to vote against McCarthy would be stripped of their committee assignments and punished for the duration of the 118th Congress.
In the words of Chip Roy, it was Rogers’ threat that ensured the fight would happen. And happen it did — over the course of four glorious days.
Rogers compounded the debasement of Alabama — and his contempt for his own constituents in the third congressional district—in an infamous moment where he attempted to lunge at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a McCarthy holdout, on the House floor. Rogers had to be physically restrained as he threatened to destroy Gaetz in a spittle-flecked rage that will forever be emblematic of his unremarkable service.
It is important to note that this is a man who has never shown the same level of rage toward the increasingly radical Democrats. This is also a man who is never fighting for conservative causes or policies. Indeed, Rogers has quietly, through backroom dealmaking, accumulated power for his own sake — while rubberstamping legislation attempting to draft America’s daughters, empowering weaponized bureaucracies that target Americans, and piling debt on the backs of Alabamans.
Since Rogers first got to Congress, the national debt has increased from $6.7 trillion to $32 trillion. There is a reason he is never out-front fighting against destructive spending.
But worst of all? He believes he’s untouchable — as evidenced by his behavior last week.
Washington is fundamentally broken. Fixing it is going to require public and messy battles as well as determined, organized, and principled lawmakers willing to fight on behalf of the people they represent. It also requires deeply conservative states like Alabama to send better people to Capitol Hill.
It’s past time to do our part to send conservative reinforcements to Washington. We should start that process by spending the next two years focused on ending Mike Rogers’ career. He has humiliated conservatives and his home state for long enough.
Drew White is a public policy consultant and former U.S. Senate staffer. He lives in Auburn with his wife and soon-to-be three children.