Koch: A House divided

 “Scribblings,” An Occasional Letter from a Former Legislator

by Tom Koch

You may believe, as I do, that things have gone off the rails in Montpelier, but have you been enjoying the clown show in Washington?

The Republicans have a majority in the United States House of Representatives, but they can’t govern!  What was expected to be a Republican landslide in last year’s elections resulted in just a slim GOP majority—223 to 212—and there are enough thick-headed, far-right members of the majority that they can prevent any bill from passing unless all of their demands are met, or unless the majority of Republicans works with (perish the thought!) the Democrats!

The tail that wags the dog consists of relatively few Representatives, but they are sufficient in number to bring all progress to a halt.  There’s Matt Gaetz of Florida, probably the leader of the group (or at least the one with the biggest mouth), whose only interest appears to be exercising power for power’s sake and getting publicity.  There’s Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who must have escaped when someone accidentally left the door to the asylum open; she was recently evicted from a theater for vaping, disturbing other patrons, and groping with her male partner during a performance of the musical “Beetlejuice.”  (She has apologized.)  And there is Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is an antisemite and a conspiracy theorist, who, before running for Congress, called for the execution of Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Barak Obama.  There are others in the group as well, thankfully not all as radical or objectionable as these three, and arguably, they represent very conservative districts and are guarding their reelection prospects by holding their uncompromising positions.

This small group has just this past week shot down proposal after proposal to fund the government for the coming fiscal year 2024, which began on October 1 and will run until September 30 next year.  One proposal was voted down by a mere 5 votes.  What is it that this group wants?  The quick answer is “spending cuts,” but for the most part, they don’t specify where those cuts are to be made or how much should be cut.  Some believe that total government spending should be cut back four years to pre-COVID levels.  But in the end they merely say “no,” realizing full well that if no appropriations bill passed before midnight on September 30, large portions of the federal government would shut down.

On a few matters, their demands are clear:

–Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t approve of the way Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is doing his job, so she sponsored an amendment to cut his salary to $1.00.  (The House actually went along with this and adopted her amendment, even though it has no chance of eventually being enacted into law.)

–The group as a whole wants to cut off aid to Ukraine, because “it’s too expensive.”  Well, nobody ever said that freedom comes cheap.  And if we terminate our aid to Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will get everything he wants in Ukraine and then will march on to Poland and Estonia!  Then the fight will become ours for sure, because both Poland and Estonia are members of NATO, and we are bound by treaty to defend any other member state from attack from the outside—“an attack on one is an attack on all!”  I submit that anyone who thinks we should abandon Ukraine has not studied the history of Nazi expansion.  Costly as our aid to Ukraine is, this is no place to make cuts in our budget! Neville Chamberlain is not looked on favorably by history, due to his abandonment of Czechoslovakia, and no American president or Congress will fare any better who abandons Ukraine.

–Seemingly unrelated matters also get into the mix, like the far right’s desire to hold hearings that could lead to the impeachment of President Biden.  In an effort to placate the far right, Speaker McCarthy recently authorized a committee to begin such hearings, and the expense of those hearings needs to be authorized as well.

–And from the sidelines, Donald Trump was urging the holdouts to shut the government down, with or without a specific reason, but just because he’s unhappy with the government as presently constituted.

The effects of a shutdown are well known.  First, many thousands of federal workers would not get paid so long as the shutdown continued.  This includes those who protect us, including members of the military, TSA inspectors at the airport, and immigration officers.  Second, many services of the federal government would be placed on hold, and National Parks would be closed to all visitors.  Third, America’s credit rating could be cut, meaning that interest payments on the national debt would increase and would compound the problem of funding the government!  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Republicans have shut down the government before, arguing that it costs too much and asks too much of the American taxpayer.  Well and good, but when people see the result of a shutdown, they get angry, and generally, they take their anger out on Republicans.  So, Gaetz and company—what a great idea you have trying to shut the government down!

So last weekend, hours before the government would have shut down, and being unable to bring the recalcitrant Republicans on board, Speaker McCarthy cut a deal with the Democrats to keep the government open and working.  The bill contained much needed assistance to communities across America that have been hit this year by natural disasters—we in Vermont know that story well!  And notably, the bill did not contain any additional aid to Ukraine.  The bill passed both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis.  Working with the Democrats to save the country from a disaster—oh no!

This was McCarthy’s cardinal sin.

As a result, Rep. Gaetz filed a motion “to vacate the chair,” in other words, to fire the speaker.  Yesterday, that motion passed, 216 to 210.  Eight Republicans, including Gaetz, voted in favor of the motion; interestingly, the above-named Reps. Boebert and Greene voted NO, thus supporting McCarthy.

Today, the House is in a state of confusion, perhaps more precisely described by some in the media as “chaos.”  The House needs to elect a new speaker, but there is no leading candidate, and in any event, it’s fair to ask who would ever want the job under present circumstances?  McCarthy said today that he will not run for it again.  Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is universally liked, but he is dealing with some serious health issues.  A number of other names have been floated, but none has emerged as a front runner.

Whoever has the misfortune to be nominated as the choice of the majority of the Republican caucus will end up engaged is a good bit of wheeling and dealing.  The small group of far-right Republicans led by Gaetz will want concessions, most likely a pledge that the new Speaker will oppose any further aid to Ukraine.  Whatever is demanded, a Speaker candidate would be well advised not to deal with this small group; Rep. McCarthy did that in January when he was trying to get elected, and that is one of the things that led to his downfall yesterday.  An alternative would be to cut a deal with the Democrat caucus, but there will be demands made there as well in exchange for the necessary votes, and concessions to the Democrats could result in a further erosion of support among Republicans for the Republican candidate.

Meanwhile, the government may not have shut down, but it is at a virtual standstill, at least legislatively.  Nothing can pass until the House has reorganized itself, and it’s anybody’s guess how long that will take. The chances are excellent, though, that the newly reorganized House will not be more efficient, more productive, or more respectable than the previous version.

How this will all end is probably beyond the ability of anyone to predict.  This mainline Republican, though, thinks it is safe to make one prediction: This will not turn out well for the Republicans!  Speaker McCarthy said a few days ago that there needs to be an adult in the room (referring to himself.)  Now he’s gone, and the House, with Republicans theoretically in charge, looks more like a bunch of second-graders in a sandbox than a house of Congress.  It begs the question: Why would anyone vote to put a Republican majority back in charge after the 2024 elections?  I can make a case for electing a GOP majority, but I doubt that the majority of the American people will agree.  And that, in my opinion, is most unfortunate.

Scribblings” originated as a report on legislative affairs while the writer was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from Barre Town.  Since then, it has been written less frequently and with less focus on the legislature and more of whatever happens to move the writer.  If you are not on the distribution list and wish to be added, simply send your name, town of residence, and email address to  If you are currently on the distribution list and wish to be removed, make that request at the same address—no offense taken.

Categories: Commentary

31 replies »

  1. Re: “…who must have escaped when someone accidentally left the door to the asylum open;”???

    Who was it, again, that escaped? Mr. Koch’s diatribe is an example of the exaggerated rhetoric projected by many ‘deep state’ politicians.

    And not one mention of the primary purpose the eight House Representatives are requiring. Why? Because Mr. Koch’s political standing is likely threatened by their call for economic sanity.

    And what is that requirement?

    It’s called ‘Single Subject Rule’ that stipulates that some or all types of legislation may deal with only one main issue at a time. No ‘Omnibus Bills’ or ‘Continuing Resolutions’ that cover a number of diverse or unrelated topics with all-or-nothing vote considerations.

    That this subject is missing from Mr. Koch’s misleading, and in my humble opinion, adolescent lecture, is telling.

    But Mr. Koch is correct in this regard – “[He] can make a case for electing a GOP majority, but I doubt that the majority of the American people will agree.”

    After all, given this persistent obfuscation by establishment, ‘uniparty’, politicians, “Why would anyone vote to put a Republican majority back in charge after the 2024 elections?”

  2. I am so happy to see that real courageous Republicans that are rooted in reality and love both liberty and the constitution are living rent free in the head of the spineless RINO Tom Koch.

  3. The Representatives in Congress are acting like real representatives of the people, something you may not be familiar with.

  4. Mr. Koch is the Rules Committee Chairman of the VTGOP.
    Both he and VTGOP Chair Paul Dame championed their ” Big Tent ” agenda that welcomed anyone that claimed to be a Republican to have the support of the VTGOP.
    That brilliant idea gave VT Conservatives Liam Madden as their candidate for U.S. Congress. Mr. Madden stated several times he wasn’t a Republican and weren’t you glad one would not be running for Congress ?
    It gave them Jarrod Sammis who left the Republican Party after his election to become a Libertarian. More seats were lost to the marxists in the last election including some that did not have a Republican candidate.

    Neither Mr. Koch, Paul Dame nor VTGOP National Committeeman Jay Shepard have condemned the 24 Transrepublican VT Representatives that joined the marxists in voting for H89.

    Isn’t it ironic when any of the Executive Committee members of the VTGOP point out all that is wrong when real conservatives actually call out those who have betrayed the Platforms.
    How much more proof does Mr. Koch need that Ukraine is a bottomless pit for the uniparty to throw money into ? Elections have been shut down and Christians are attacked and prevented from worship. How many U.S. funded death labs are open there ?
    Koch’s support of working with the marxists in D.C. and Montpelier who are destroying America is more proof that he doesn’t want America to survive.

    The VTGOP reorganization is happening in a few weeks. If Mr. Dame, Mr. Koch or Mr. Shepard are reelected more seats will be lost to the marxists in the Legislature next year.
    Because if you don’t stand for something you fall for everything.

  5. Mr Koch, do you realize that, by a vast majority, US citizens want to stop funding the US Laundromat, er, I mean, Ukraine? And that they want the money instead to go to securing the border and fixing our infrastructure?

    That was a rhetorical question, of course, as I KNOW you know what I just wrote to be true.

    I consider Gaetz, et al, to be at the forefront of the “New Republican” movement. We need more like them, fewer like Mittens, and far fewer war hawks like yourself.

    How does the saying go? Something like “Stupidity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results”. Well, that’s where you and your ilk are, Mr Koch. We’re tired of business as usual and we’re tired of our children dying while fighting globalist wars.

    McCarthy was a traitor to all republicans. Kicking the can down the road is not an option we approve of, Mr Koch. We want change. We NEED change. And if it takes Matt Gaetz to do it, good on him.

    And by the way, Mr Koch, please explain to me how Gaetz did anything that was not an agreed upon House procedure. Yes, you love the rules when they’re in your favor, but when they’re used for something you don’t like, all of a sudden all the RINOs are making Gaetz look like Fidel Castro. In effect, taking their ball and going home.

    Which is what you should do, Mr Koch, immediately if not sooner.

  6. What a load of old codswallop! I fear the fifth clot-shot booster must have destroyed the other half of Mr. Koch’s brain. Either that, or his screed is a brilliantly disguised, self-deprecating satire of the endangered species known as the “RINO.” If so, I apologize, and well done.

  7. Mr. Koch is just another example of what is wrong with the Vermont GOP, Mr. Koch can keep siding with the RINOs or Vermont Progressive Democrats, I bet he follows and supports everything they do to destroy the state. All anyone needs to understand is that the Country is $33T in debt, has open borders, and Mr. Koch thinks McCarthy is a leader, and should remain in charge …………… why!! McCarthy, he’s a snake !!

  8. This reminds me of that Senifeld episode where Jerry’s Uncle Leo would call anyone he didnt like an anti-semite. Car cut him off in traffic? Anti-semite. Food overcooked at a restaurant? anti-semite. Anyways thats what the whole lot of ya sound like with this RINO stuff. Why don’t they continue to be republicans, and like Mr. Banks suggested above, and YOU ALL [the part of the republican party that hates the rest of the party members] are part of the “New Republicans!” I know NRINO doesnt have the same ring, but this is freedom we are talkin about here dammit!

  9. True admissions of Slime , When Russia is Fighting the Remnants of Nazis , who are already Defeated .
    We know who funded and Protected the Ukraine Nazis in WW2 .
    To lie so about history , Imagining Americans never learn the Truth .
    MAGA . Will never Stand for Endless loosing Wars , Money laundering to overseas criminal cartels .
    Rino Blither is all you Got .

    Donald J Trump for Speaker of the House .

    Amen 🙏

  10. “The fact that McCarthy won’t run for Speaker again shows me he never intended to keep his promises. He was there to work for Pelosi, hide the J6 tapes, not impeach Biden, not subpoena Hunter, keep the money flowing to Ukraine and allow the Deep State to take down Trump. Gaetz called his bluff and exposed his true intentions.
    Rogan O’Handley aka DC Draino

  11. Despite the radical comments by many of those who reply to articles such as Tom’s, we are indeed fortunate in Vermont in not having any Marjorie Taylor Greenes, Lauren Boeberts, or Matt Gaetzs holding office.

    • You ARE speaking for yourself, ‘John’, yes? … i.e., the ‘royal we’. All the while ignoring any semblance of the specificity, detail, logic, or reason prescribed by the aforesaid Greens, Boeberts, and Gaetzs. I’m beginning to understand your preference for Vermont’s current political construct. Peas in the idiomatic pod.

    • Says the guy creating a brain chip to interface humans directly with computers….

  12. I have been enjoying Vermont’s beautiful foliage in the Northeast Kingdom today and have been “out of range” most of the day. I have returned home to read the constructive criticism of my “Scribblings” the other day. In diplomatic language, let it be said that “we had a frank exchange of views.”

    However, let me remind my critics that in order to accomplish any change of policy at all, one must first get elected. When one of my critics gets elected to a position in which he or she can substantially influence the adoption of public policy, please let me know. Then we will compare their accomplishments with mine in the eleven terms I served in the Vermont House.

    Just offhand, I recall defending the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the sanctity of marriage, and parental rights. I as chair of Health and Welfare and Rep. Peg Flory as chair of Judiciary led the full House in passing the only parental notification bill that ever passed in the Vermont legislature; of course, as soon as it got to the Senate led by Pro-tem Peter Welch, it died. But we did our part!

    As to my prediction that the present mess in Washington will turn voters against the Republican Party next year, I will be delighted to be proven wrong. I’ve been a Republican all my life, and I expect to be working to elect all of our Republican candidates next year. I will gladly work together with my critics to get it done!

    • Anytime someone takes the time to list off their accomplishments when confronted with controversy tells me exactly what kind of person they are.

      The Republicans have not served us well in the last 20 or 30 years has society has gotten worse and worse, and the politics have slid generally left towards communism. So your requirement to stick by their side to go along to get along, it’s not only wrong. It’s foolish. Pursuant to your personality, avoiding the conflict does not always solve the situation. Sometimes there is a need to hit that conflict head-on and know that you’ll take a little damage.
      It’s better to take that damage now than it is to lose the war later.

      McCarthy was trash and he needed to be taken out. I guess Gaetz and all the other ones who voted for it were the garbage men

    • I was never elected to any State Office Mr. Koch, but as you aware I was elected to be the Platform Committee Delegate for Chittenden County. Very quickly I learned there were members of the committee that didn’t want protections for the unborn from conception and refused to allow protections for VT Military members to be exempt from State taxes on their SS and Disability payments.

      There were members on the committee who blocked Language I wrote to remove all financial support and any endorsements from the VTGOP towards any candidate that did not adhere to the VTGOP Platform.

      So I wrote an Amendment to the Platform that I introduced at the Platform vote.
      You, Paul Dame and others objected to my Amendment. At the same meeting you and others pushed your ” Big Tent ” agenda thru.
      When my Amendment was defeated by the voting members, you, Dame and others cheered.
      Shortly after this vote I resigned from the VTGOP. Some criticized me for leaving, but I would not remain in an organization that said they stood for something but clearly did not.
      Remember the vote to approve the platform Mr. Koch ?
      It passed by a huge majority. ( but that doesn’t mean anything right ? )
      Since the time I left the VTGOP I have traveled to every corner of VT fighting for the unborn, fighting against the illegal and unconstitutional mandates especially at schools in Northern VT. and fighting for our 1st and 2nd Amendment Constitutional Rights.
      All on my Dime and my time.

      I also make people aware about the 24 Transrepublican VT representatives that have endangered VT children by voting for H89. The people neither you or Dame have criticized from betraying Conservative Vermonters and joining with the marxists in the Legislature.

      So while you had done some good in the Legislature, you and the Executive Committee members have chosen sides.
      And it isn’t with Americans who are sick of the Uniparty.

      • Re: “Anytime someone takes the time to list off their accomplishments when confronted with controversy tells me exactly what kind of person they are.” – Brian

        Why are you, Mr. Sexton, not addressing the specifics of this debate, as opposed to quarreling over GOP party process and name calling? Why not let the proof be in the pudding?

    • Thank you for engaging, Mr. Koch.

      Your musings aside, why do you continue to disregard the specific issues put forth by the eight members of the U.S. House that you complained so mightily about?

      What is your position on Single Subject legislation?

      Do you understand that the so-called budget ‘cut’ negotiated by McCarthy for the coming years uses an inflated basis point? Specifically, “McCarthy’s proposal, which he unveiled on the floor of the House of Representatives, would cut the total amount of domestic and military spending to 2022 levels and cap growth at 1% annually in years to come.” – Reuters

      Do you understand that the 2020, 2021 and 2022 spending levels being cut are already more than 45% (more than $2 Trillion annually) higher than the pre-Covid spending years.

      These proposals aren’t budget cuts. They’re massive spending increases.

      And you say?

      • Must be you missed the multiple times I defended Gaetz and the other seven who did the right thing Mr. Eshelman.
        As far as ” quarreling with GOP process and name calling ” prove me wrong.
        I call out the marxists who claim to be Democrat or Progressive frequently. They are evil soulless people who openly champion the slaughter of innocence and children. But they never pretend to be anything else.
        The Transrepublicans want you to believe they are the good ones.
        While stabbing you in the back and spitting in your face.

        And I don’t consider what I write to be quarreling.
        If you have not noticed, I challenged Mr. Dame, Mr. Koch and Mr. Shepard to a debate anytime, anywhere.
        Mr. Koch wrote a comment to defend himself, and I addressed that.

      • Re: “Must be you missed the multiple times I defended Gaetz and the other seven who did the right thing Mr. Eshelman.”

        Yep, I missed it. And even on second review, I still don’t see a reference to Gaetz in your comments.

      • So, when push comes to shove, what do we get from our politicians, those in office and the wannabes. Crickets.

        No Mr. Sexton, you didn’t openly support Matt Gaetz, as you said you did. At least not on this post.

        And Mr. Koch, yours is a typical hit-and-run comment with zero substance, and zero follow-up. Thanks for nothing.

        And VDC readers: calling these folks names like Marxists and Communists over and again, without substantiating your position with specifics, is redundant. It isn’t constructive.

        Why isn’t anyone addressing the ‘Single Subject’ legislative process put forth by Matt Gaetz and the other seven independent House representatives?

        Why isn’t anyone addressing the so-called McCarthy ‘budget cuts’ that are, in reality, massive budget increases?

        Why do we not hear every Vermont Republican Senator explain why they all voted (unanimously) to continue the flawed election process that automatically sends an unsecured mail-in ballot to every registered voter in the State?

        Why don’t the supporters of Prop 5, the carte blanche genocide amendment, explain why ‘fetal personhood protections’ are granted in some instances but not addressed in Prop 5 at all?

        VDC readers: If you do nothing else, try to learn a little bit about what is actually going on out there so you can speak intelligently about it, and perhaps choose the right people to do your bidding. After all, the buck stops with ‘we the people’.

      • Nope, I sure didn’t make those comments on this particular article Mr. Eshelman. So you win, happy now ?
        How many other Articles has VT Daily published where I, you and others comment on ?
        Instead of accusing me or anyone else of not doing something exactly the way you would prefer, how about if you don’t see a response or have a question ask that ?
        You are an educated and well informed individual who quite often makes his case.
        Make sure you enumerate every instance in case I or someone else doesn’t see you did it every time.
        Anyone that has ever read one of my comments know where I stand.
        The Republican Party in general and the VTGOP in particular have failed to represent Conservatives by their allegiance to the Uniparty.
        Mr. Gaetz, the seven that stood with him and those in VT who call out those who don’t represent us are the real Patriots.

        As far as name calling is concerned, all those I call out have proven their allegiance to the agenda of destroying the Family unit, allowing weak, mentally unstable males into female sports and bathrooms, slaughtering the unborn, sexually mutilating children, and removing God from everything.
        That has nothing to do with childish games like name calling. It has everything to do with calling evil, evil.

        Since Mr. Eshelman chose to address the readers of VT daily, maybe it would be a good thing for everyone to have Mr. Eshelman edit and approve their submission before sending it to Guy Page.
        I won’t.
        Ironic how those who claim to be on the same side in a fight choose to attack their allies.

      • Pure projection, Mr. Sexton. I don’t ‘prefer’ anything but the truth when I ask legitimate questions… ironic as that may seem to you. On the other hand, at least you’ve been honorable enough to respond… albeit without addressing my specific questions. I’m still waiting to hear from Mr. Koch, the Senate Republicans who voted for mail-in balloting, and those who supported Prop 5. And while I’m not holding my breath, I will continue to ask questions of those who comment here when clarification is warranted… allied or otherwise.

      • You should read the article you referenced, reneemmcg. The word ‘communist’ isn’t mentioned, and for good reason. Name calling distracts from the pont of the article – that our public schools have become dangerous to our children, no matter what you call the people involved.

      • H Jay Eshelman, I WROTE the article I referenced, which was published in Vermont Daily Chronicle, as well, except not in three parts. Check the link, “45 goals of communism”, in part 2, paragraph 3. Vermont Daily Chronicle publishes nearly daily during the legislative session on the bills coming out of our State House. You seem like an intelligent person who can identify communistic legislation when he sees it.

  13. “The tail that wags the dog consists of relatively few Representatives, but they are sufficient in number to bring all progress to a halt. ” Odd, Hillary Clinton hissed the same talking point on CNN. One thing is for sure, Matt Gaetz held McCarthy to account on an agreement hammered out in January. The Democrats seized on an opportunity to stick it to the GOP and make them look divided (nice try, but the stench of The Biden is permanent.) The talking RINO heads filled their britches and started squawking like Chicken Littles because the money talks so they shall squawk! Meanwhile, Putin put a target on Klaus Schwab’s back, called Turdo[sic] an idoit, and is making more headway and allies on the global front. Meanwhile, The Biden crime syndicate and co-conspirators are running around with fire lapping their heels. I love it when a plan comes together! Spoiler alert: God wins – always – and He is in control. Amen and Hallelujah!

  14. So when will the elected bureaucrats actually decide its time to make painful cuts to our spending? When we can’t afford to make the interest payments on the debt? When the US dollar completely collapses (pretty much already there)? When we will stop getting into the foreign entanglements that George Washington warned against in his farewell address. You know, the entanglements that ALWAYS makes the military industrial complex richer and we the people poorer. The ones that ALWAYS include secret deals and agreements with nefarious individuals or nation states, the ones that never preserve OUR liberty, rather step-by-step chokes it! The uni-party and our so called representatives have brought us to a precipice that we may never be able to back away from. If only we could embrace the true libertarian ideals of Thomas Jefferson, I fear it is too late.

  15. You can always tell when an elected official is in cahoots with a special interest group, so how do I know, how about $33T in debt and spending more money than we have for special interest, and not supporting the concerns of their constituents with something like a balanced budget, on either Federal or State level !!!

    DemocRATs know how to play the game, RINOs are still learning and it shows with
    McCarthy, promise and lie to get a job, … wake up people, and why is the border still wide open……………… yup, special interest groups !!