Hageman Says GOP Has ‘Lost a Lot of Momentum’ Amid Speaker Fight

Representative blames House Democrats for McCarthy’s ouster

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: Oct 23, 2023

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) told a crowd of Republicans in Cody that vacating the speaker’s chair disrupted the progress GOP House members had been making. (Wyoming Truth photo by CJ Baker)

By CJ Baker

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CODY, Wyo. — U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) knows some of her constituents wanted her to join the small group of House Republicans who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“But I’m going to tell you, it was the wrong thing to do,” Hageman said at a Saturday night fundraiser for the Park County Republican Party.

McCarthy (R-Calif.) was distrusted by some on the right from the start of his speakership, but Hageman was among the conservative lawmakers who supported him. She recalled fellow conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) saying earlier this year that, “Sometimes, Harriet, when you blow everything up, you end up in a worse place.”

The crowd at the Cody Cattle Company gave a warm welcome to U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) at Saturday night’s Patriots’ Day Dinner, which served as a fundraiser for the Park County Republican Party. (Wyoming Truth photo by CJ Baker)

“And that’s what’s happened,” Hageman said. “And now we’re going to have to rebuild. We’ve lost a lot of momentum.”

McCarthy’s downfall stemmed from working with Democrats on a continuing resolution that avoided a government shutdown but was seen by some conservatives as a betrayal. Eight of the 221 Republicans in the House ultimately voted to remove McCarthy, joined by all 212 Democratic members.

On Saturday, Hageman fixed her criticism on the Democratic representatives.

“While I’m not very happy with the eight Republicans who were involved with that, I’m going to put the blame where the blame lies,” Hageman said. She specifically accused former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of reneging on a pledge to support McCarthy if a motion was made to vacate the speakership.

“So if you want to know what happened, that was it: We got played,” Hageman told the crowd in Cody. “The Democrats have instituted a coup in Washington, D.C., and every one of us are going to suffer the consequences for that.”

Pelosi has denied making any promises to back McCarthy. In comments to Fox 11 Los Angeles, she said Democrats were concerned about McCarthy’s handling of various issues, including the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, debt ceiling negotiations and an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump remains popular among Wyoming Republicans — as evidenced by a few of the silent auction items at Saturday’s Park County Republican Party event. U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) was Trump’s pick against former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in last year’s primary election. (Wyoming Truth photo by CJ Baker)

The GOP agenda

Hageman, however, argued the Democrats wanted McCarthy out because Republicans were making progress on their agenda. She said they’ve worked to expose the “Biden crime family,” hold Cabinet members to account and scrutinize China while passing legislation to boost American energy production, increase border security, establish a parental bill of rights and limit the power of executive branch agencies. Hageman’s own amendments include efforts to ban federal funding to the World Health Organization, require federal employees to stop working remotely and to send a message on border security by prohibiting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from traveling outside the U.S.

“We have been doing incredibly conservative things in the House,” said Hageman, with the GOP’s more liberal and moderate representatives coming over “to our side.”

Still, the legislation she highlighted has gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the House GOP’s energy bill “a partisan, dead-on-arrival and unserious proposal.” Hageman said Republicans need to win control of the upper chamber and the White House next year.

“Not only does the United States depend on it, the entire world depends on it,” she said, drawing applause from the couple hundred attendees in Cody.

Closer to home, she lambasted the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Resource Management Plan for the public lands around Rock Springs — one that’s sparked stiff opposition for prioritizing conservation and preservation over use. Hageman, a land use lawyer, said she’s ready to “fight that one to the death.”

“We cannot allow these federal agencies to dictate from on high what we’re going to do — whether it is through vaccine mandates or ESG funding, or the destruction of our oil and gas industry,” Hageman said. “It is time, people, to fight back against Washington, D.C., and corrupt people such as the Bidens and their administration that want to turn us into something that none of us want.”

Seeking a speaker

For now, however, the Republican-controlled House is effectively dead in the water, with budget bills, financial support for Israel and other legislation at a standstill. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Hageman’s preferred candidate, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both made bids for speaker this month, but couldn’t win enough support within the caucus.

“… we’re not in a good situation,” Hageman said.

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) visits with constituents following her remarks at a Park County Republican Party event Saturday night. Hageman said it’s imperative that the House GOP selects a new speaker. (Wyoming Truth photo by CJ Baker)

Hageman’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), weighed in on the GOP gridlock Sunday, calling it “a direct result of the decisions that Kevin McCarthy made to embrace Donald Trump, to embrace the most radical and extreme members of our party, to elevate them.”

“So it’s not a surprise that we are where we are, but it’s a disgrace, and it’s an embarrassment,” Cheney said on CNN’s State of the Nation.

Of course, Cheney was herself ousted by Wyoming Republican voters in last year’s primary election, losing to Hageman in a landslide. There was no doubt where loyalties lay at Saturday’s night GOP banquet in Cody:  attendees posed for photos with a cardboard cutout of former President Trump, gave Hageman a thundering welcome and groaned when Cheney was briefly mentioned.

“I think she’s a resident of Virginia now,” Park County Republican Party Vice Chairman Bob Ferguson said of Cheney, telling Hageman, “Thank you for making her move.”

On Sunday, it remained anyone’s guess as to who the GOP might nominate for speaker, but Hageman told the fundraiser attendees Saturday there are some “phenomenal” candidates. And she hopes the party elects one this week.

“We are this close to losing the gavel to the Democrats, so we’ve got to get our act together,” she said. “We’ve got to get us a speaker. We’ve got to move forward with our agenda.”

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