We Live in a Minority Government — With the Center Providing the Majority Votes in the House and Senate
A minority government in a parliamentary system is a power-sharing agreement between two political parties that, when sharing power, make up a majority.
In effect, this is the kind of government the United States has been living under for years.
This de facto minority government began with the advent of the “four corners” negotiations on the Continuing Resolutions (CR) or Omnibus bills, which were a roll-up of all the appropriation bills not completed. (Four corners negotiations include just four people, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the House.)
You can stop reading, here is the elevator version: Congress’s de facto majority will eventually become Congress’s de jure majority.
Just like in a minority government, the minority party (the one not controlling the House or the Senate) in these four corner negotiations puts “their mark” on the bill in some fashion, but only with the agreement of the other side.
Therefore, the natural buoyancy of the United States government, to legislate, spend, and function, is this minority government where the center of the Republicans and Democrats share power to pass spending or debt limit bills.
Of course, this is what the Freedom Caucus is fighting.
But, the reality is that politics follows power and power follows the majority — see the 2022 Congressional election results.
And these center votes are the only functioning majority in the Senate (the 60+ votes on the debt limit) and the only functioning majority in the House (see recent debt limit votes and virtually every vote to keep funding the government for the past four years.)
Fighting against this minority government is like swimming against the waves.
Sometimes you beat the waves.
But, eventually, the waves win.
Now, to date, the Freedom Caucus has punched above its weight class in terms of results.
Their unity and intensity have been a great asset, as well as their willingness to take risks.
But the natural buoyancy, the state of nature as it is — this power sharing among the center of both parties, will, eventually manifest itself as the actual reality of power in both the Senate and the House, and in the House and Senate leadership.
Meaning, at some point, some in the center will organize to this reality, leaving those on both ends of the spectrum in a far less influential position than they are now.
What will be the catalyst for this action?
An untimely death?
A motion to vacate in the House? The end of Speaker McCarthy by Freedom Caucus members or moderates?
Or, perhaps an indictment?
The formation of a new centrist party by break-away Republicans and/or breakaway Dems in the House or the Senate or both?
At what point does the instability of Congress gel a consensus to end the 4-vote wag-the-dog effect in the House? If the moderates were organized or had the will, they could pull off what the Freedom Caucus has already done. They could, if pushed, also undo it.
Could this de jure leadership and operations of the House happen when the GOP vote margin drops by two votes: by one vote when Rep. Stewart (R-UT) leaves, and then minus another one when (inevitably) Rep. DeSantos (R-NY) is ejected from the House?
Ultimately the minority government that is in effect for spending and the debt limit, will be brought forth as it is vote-wise, in the governing structure of the Republican House and the Republican side of the U.S. Senate.
No tactical changes by the Freedom Caucus or the House Progressives can prevent this from happening, sooner or later, the leadership of the House and Senate reflects where the majority votes are, and where power resides — it is a natural by-product of the design of each institution.
Eventually, the leadership of the House and Senate (to repeat myself for clarity and emphasis) will reflect the actual working voting majority in the House and Senate for major spending bills and raising the debt limit.
These events will be difficult for some, and spawn the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth (along with the normal raft of conspiracy theories) but these events will not be the results of a conspiracy, it is how power organizes itself, these coming events are simply de facto becoming de jure, which is what, sooner or later, always happens.