Minnesota Democrats repeatedly compared the “chaos” surrounding the U.S. House speaker vote to the events of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot during a press conference on “inclusive Democracy” Friday morning.
Republicans now hold a slim majority in the U.S. House, but the vote for speaker dragged on for days this week amid negotiations with GOP holdouts from the House Freedom Caucus.
Republican Kevin McCarthy ultimately won the speakership late Friday night after 15 rounds of voting. He agreed to several of the Freedom Caucus’s demands, including a 72-hour window between releasing and voting on bills, moving bills through regular order, a floor vote on border security and term limits, the creation of a committee to investigate abuses by intelligence agencies, and more.
Supporters of the Freedom Caucus defended the prolonged proceedings, arguing it is exactly how democracy is supposed to work.
“The fact that this race has not been settled by now is being described by many, especially online, as embarrassing,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show earlier this week. “And it is embarrassing if you prefer the Soviet-style consensus of the Democratic Party’s internal elections … That’s what they do. But if you prefer democracy to oligarchy, if you prefer real debate about issues that actually matter, it’s pretty refreshing to see it.”
Even left-wing commentator Shaun King called the speaker vote “healthy.”
“It’s actually what happens in legislatures all over the world. Small factions use their power to fight for concessions and agreements. Progressive Democrats should’ve done this years ago [to be honest],” he said.
But Minnesota Democrats said the GOP’s debate over the next speaker of the House places democracy in “danger.”
“Some of the forces that attempted to overturn a free and fair election at the U.S. Capitol two years ago are still with us today. This entire week Americans have watched as the U.S. House of Representatives has been chaotically unable to choose a speaker. That is stopping the work of the people and that is not acceptable,” Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic said during the press conference Friday.
“The danger to our democracy did not end on that Jan. 6. We continue to experience a coordinated campaign of disinformation to delegitimize our democratic process and push us towards chaos and authoritarianism. We have members of our Minnesota Legislature who are election deniers and have publicly supported insurrectionists. We have a body of Congress that cannot organize itself, delaying the work of the people. Our democracy continues to be in danger,” added Sen. Liz Boldon.
The purpose of the press conference was to announce the formation of a new “Inclusive Democracy Caucus” and introduce an expansive election reform bill. That bill, House File 3, would allow for automatic voter registration, create a preregistration program for teenagers, and expand voting rights for felons on probation.
Sen. Mark Koran, the lead Republican on the Senate Elections Committee, urged Democrats to abide by Minnesota’s precedent of only changing election laws in a bipartisan manner.
“Minnesota has a long-standing practice of only changing election laws on a bipartisan basis, and the fact that my colleagues across the aisle are more interested in passing their hyper-partisan wish lists than they are in finding common ground on our elections is a disservice to all voters,” he said.