Freshman Congresswoman Budzinski “Frustrated” by Speaker Deadlock

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When a new congress is seated, inauguration day is supposed to be a joy-filled occasion. Usually, there are more photos than meaningful votes and lots of family on hand for more festivities than business.

Not so much this year.

Rep.-elect Nikki Budzinski, who is still just “Representative Elect” as she hasn’t formally taken the oath of office yet, is a bystander as Republicans melt down on the floor with repeated failed attempts to nominate and elect a Speaker of the House.

The Democrat from Springfield won the gerrymandered 13th Congressional District that stretches from East St. Louis to Champaign-Urbana.

“I came here to get to work,” Budzinski said as she stepped off the House floor between fruitless votes Wednesday. “We have to get through this Speaker vote before I’m sworn in and before we can determine the committees that members are going to be on. Republicans won the House in November and I think it’s time for them to govern.”

Budzinski says the drama will only frustrate people about the state of our politics.

“People back home will just see this on TV as more political noise,” she said. “People are still very much struggling with their daily lives and when people are struggling with their own lives and they see this mess on television, it just reinforces that Washington is broken.”

Budzinski and all House Democrats have continued to cast their voters for New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries. While some Democrats have indicated they may be willing to help GOP speaker hopeful Kevin McCarthy get to the needed 218 votes, Budzinski says that’s not going to happen.

“Some of this drama is around the fact that Republicans have a narrow majority, but I would point out that House Democrats [had] an even slimmer majority,” she said. “We’re just waiting for the House Republicans to get their act together.”

While Budzinski hasn’t taken the oath of office, her district staff that has already been put in place has opened a district office a block from the Old State Capitol in Springfield. Her staff was able to begin work at noon Tuesday and has attempted to hit the ground running with constituent service requests collected during outgoing Rep. Rodney Davis’ term in office.

But for now, everyone votes. And votes. And votes.

“From my perspective, it’s a growing frustration,” Budzinski said. “I don’t know when the end is in sight.”

Congresswoman Mary Miller (R-Oakland), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group behind much of the opposition to McCarthy, is one of the GOP holdouts. Miller has voted against McCarthy on all six ballots so far, first for Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and later for Florida Congressman Byron Donalds. (Who, interestingly, spoke at a GOP holiday luncheon in the suburbs in late November.) The other two Republicans, Congressman Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) and Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) have remained in McCarthy’s camp.

MEANWHILE…

I talked to former Congressman Rodney Davis yesterday. (Disclosure: I worked on his first race in 2012.) He was defeated by Miller in the 2022 primary after he was drawn out of his current district and into a vastly more rural district that ate up Miller’s Trumpy bonafides.

Davis was very close to both McCarthy and his number two, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, so he would have been on board with the wannabe Speaker.

“I hope this circus ends soon,” Davis said. “It’s embarrassing.”

But, he said, the House Republicans need to get behind the leadership the caucus selected back in November. And he says it shows the strength of McCarthy’s strength with most of his conference with a razor thin majority.

“You have to respect the votes of 92% of the GOP conference who voted for Kevin to be speaker, now multiple times,” he said.

I also reached out to former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who also left congress this week. Kinzinger has been having a little fun at McCarthy’s expense this week on Twitter here and here and here. I didn’t hear back.

Though, maybe I’ve been big-timed as he was introduced as a CNN Political Commentator yesterday.

Ino Saves New

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January 5, 2023 at 06:31PM

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