How Pa. Rep. Scott Perry’s tweets explain the chaos in the U.S. House | Friday Morning Coffee

Still wondering what the anti-McCarthy hardliners want? There’s a tweet for that

By: - January 6, 2023 7:14 am

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District (C-Span screen capture)

Today marks the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which at least seven people died. And in a lot of ways that matter, the deadly attack on American democracy, and the chaos it engendered, helped set the stage for where the nation finds itself this week.

By at first castigating former President Donald Trump, and then embracing him, and by failing to fully repudiate the election-deniers in his caucus, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California emboldened the very GOP lawmakers who have repeatedly denied him the one political prize he wants more than anything else: The Speaker’s gavel.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, a Trump ally who fully participated in the effort to topple the 2020 election results, has been in the vanguard of the House GOP’s anti-McCarthy wing.

And tweets this week by Perry, the head of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, have provided pretty ample evidence of the depth of opposition to McCarthy’s speakership among hard-right members of the U.S. House GOP.

In a lengthy Twitter thread as the debate opened on Tuesday, Perry sketched out the hardliners’ objections to McCarthy, and the concessions they were seeking for him to win their support.

The Republican lawmakers are seeking such changes as increasing the ranks of conservative lawmakers on key House committees, and a tweak that would allow any lawmaker — not just someone in leadership — to call for a vote to replace the chamber’s presiding officer, the Capital-Star reported on Tuesday.

The talks went nowhere.

“Fear and smear, and comply or die messaging don’t inspire trust, @GOPLeader,” Perry tweeted. “Those are tactics not befitting the next House Speaker.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 13: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol June 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. In the wake of remarks by President Donald Trump that he would accept compromising information about a political opponent from a foreign power, McCarthy said that he would support legislation proposed by Democrats that would require people to report to the FBI if they are approached with offers of that information. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As the fight over McCarthy’s nomination continued on Wednesday, and as the California lawmaker went down to repeated defeats, Perry kept up the drumbeat of criticism.

“We’ve outlined to @gopleader for months what the next #Speaker must embrace to be successful in setting America and the House back on track — he rejected it,” Perry tweeted. “I believe [Ohio U.S. Rep.@Jim_Jordan — and likely many others — are up to the task at hand, and I’ll keep going until they emerge.”

The unfriendly fire continued into the day on Wednesday, with Perry tweeting that “39 years in the Army taught me you take fire when you’re over the target. Threaten me, try to assassinate my character all you like – I’m staying over the target and changing the status quo for the American People.”

By day’s end on Wednesday, Perry and his fellow hardliners proved more than up to the task, repeatedly denying McCarthy the votes he needed to win the gavel. Some Republicans instead threw their support to U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla. As they did on Tuesday, Democrats unanimously backed Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

By Thursday morning, with McCarthy making concessions weakening the Speaker’s Office, according to the Washington PostPerry went on the attack one more time.

“Make no mistake: I’ll continue do what’s right, not what’s easy — and I’ll stay on target until the job is done and the status quo is defeated,” Perry tweeted.

As the vote slogged on, Perry told reporters he remained adamant that the anti-McCarthy Republicans “want to change things fundamentally here so this place works for the American people. And we’re not going to stop going until we get that one way or the other. Either we have the tools to do it, or we have the personnel to do it. It’s going to be one, or the other.”

Later in the day, as the House moved onto its ninth ballot for speaker, McCarthy’s allies continued to put his name into nomination, even as the anti-McCarthy lawmakers offered up alternatives that included former President Donald Trump.

“A deal is NOT done,” Perry tweeted on Thursday afternoon. “When confidences are betrayed and leaks are directed, it’s even more difficult to trust. Totally unsat (sic). I will not yield to the status quo.”

By day’s end on Thursday, McCarthy was again denied the gavel. According to the Washington Post, the contours of a possible deal were starting to emerge in the House on Thursday night.

“We’re at a Reagan moment — ‘trust but verify,’ Perry tweeted shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday night. “The devil is in the details, and we’ll take our time to ensure it’s right, not easy. One way or another, the status quo must go.”

The House resumes today. The outcome is unknown. But Perry will once again be at the forefront of the action.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.