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Cillizza: Washington's worst week

Published June 21, 2013 5:35 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

By Chris Cillizza

The Washington Post

When you are the House majority whip, your job is to "whip" votes. As in, get people to vote for things.

That didn't work out so well for Rep. Kevin McCarthy this past week. The California Republican was more spectator than team captain as he watched the failure of the farm bill — an amalgam of measures including crop insurance and subsidies — in large part due to the revolt of more than five dozen GOPers.

Republicans tried to blame Democrats for the flop, insisting that Rep. Collin Peterson, Minn., the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, had promised 40 votes from his side and failed to deliver.

Um, what? Since when does the majority party in the House not have a backup plan in case the minority side doesn't deliver?

Democratic defections shouldn't have been a problem. Remember that Republicans control a comfortable 234 House seats. (By comparison, the GOP controlled 230 seats after the 1994 tidal wave election.) Clearly, the farm bill loss was an unforced error. Especially since the Republicans voting against it included five committee chairmen — people who are the definition of the party establishment - and among them was Rep. Ed Royce, Calif., who hails from McCarthy's home state.

Coming on the heels of a quixotic vote forced by social conservatives who want to ban abortion after 20 weeks, the problem is obvious: Republican leaders are leaders in name only. They lack the ability to lead their fractious conference anywhere.

Kevin McCarthy, for getting whipped by your own party, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.