Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) took his frequent refrain of “bipartisanship” to a new level Friday morning when he declared his decision to back “extremist” Rep. Matt Gaetz’s scheme to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy “a bipartisan way forward.”
In an interview with WGIR’s Chris Ryan, Pappas bemoaned the lack of a speaker as a major obstacle to addressing national concerns and advancing American interests.
“I’m more worried about the business that’s ahead of us, the issues that we just talked about with respect to how we can come through for our allies in Israel and Ukraine, how we can address the crisis along the border and provide for increased funding for border security,” Pappas said. “How we ensure that we don’t go past this mid-November deadline and see the government shut down. These are really urgent matters for the American people and for democracy around the world.
“We can’t wait any longer,” Pappas added.
But Pappas joined fellow New Hampshire Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster and the entire Democratic caucus to defeat a GOP measure that would have stopped Gaetz’s motion to vacate the speaker’s chair, and he voted to remove McCarthy. While all but eight Republicans rejected the motion to vacate, every Democrat voted in favor, leaving the House unable to consider any legislation.
“Do you bear any responsibility for the predicament we find ourselves in that you and the rest of the Democrats sided with Matt Gates in removing Speaker McCarthy to begin with?” Ryan asked.
Pappas responded by blaming McCarthy.
“We always should be looking for a bipartisan way forward,” Pappas replied. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we were so dismayed with the fact that Kevin McCarthy … was [un]willing to talk about the need to reform the rules of the House, which right now empower extremists like Matt Gaetz and other who want to see nothing but obstructionism. And the fact that there’s this one person motion to vacate that McCarthy put into the rules back in January really empowers the extremists.”
“And you utilized those rules in order to remove McCarthy and empowered an extremist in Matt Gaetz, correct?”
“I, we were looking for a bipartisan way forward at that point in time,” Pappas replied. “We’ve got to get back to work. This is incredibly frustrating, and we’re not going to let the extremism of those on the far right hijack this Congress any longer.
It is certainly a unique take on the Democrats’ role in removing the House leader without any plan for a replacement.
On Friday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) announced he was withdrawing his bid to become speaker after a GOP caucus ballot showed he lacked the votes needed to reach a 217 majority.
Pappas declined to respond to requests for clarification.
First Congressional District GOP candidate Russell Prescott called out Pappas for refusing to break with his party.
“Washington is broken because of politicians like Chris Pappas who put their own self-interests ahead of the needs of our country,” Prescott told NHJournal. “When given the opportunity to be an independent voice, he once again fell in line behind his Democratic Party‘s leadership.
“He could have broken with them and joined a vast majority of Republicans who voted for a continuity of government under Kevin McCarthy, but he instead voted in support of the current chaos because he figured it would be advantageous to his long-term political career. That certainly isn’t leadership. It’s political gamesmanship — and those sort of antics are exactly what New Hampshire voters are sick and tired of.”
And Hollie Noveletsky, also a GOP candidate in the NH-01 race, said “Chris Pappas is a perfect example of the dysfunction in Washington DC. He is a career politician who votes party line continually and his decision to join partisan Democrats and several grandstanding Republicans in the Speaker vote is another perfect example. He is not a leader. He’s a political weathervane who will turn whatever direction the winds of his party’s leadership tells him.”