House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s concessions to conservatives on his right flank to win his leadership position have diminished the worth of the position.
“I think it’s an ever incredibly shrinking speakership,” Pelosi told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, pointing to the concessions McCarthy made to become speaker. “It became that the first night when he had to make all these pledges, promises to become speaker. Really, it isn’t worth it to be speaker to abdicate that much jurisdiction over the House.”
That same conservative part of the Republican House caucus that McCarthy “abdicated” power to en route to his speakership pushed the California Republican to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, which he announced on Tuesday.
The comments from Pelosi, a California Democrat who twice served as House speaker, highlight the political confines that McCarthy finds himself within. The House now has to navigate a possible presidential impeachment on top of legislating numerous must-pass bills, including a government budget with no resolution currently in sight.
“I think that is really more of a matter of politics of the Republican caucus,” Pelosi said about the possible impeachment. “This is not responsible governance. But it’s the chaos on the Republican side.”
The 83-year-old San Francisco Democrat, who announced last Friday that she would run for another House term, also staunchly defended Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, in their pursuit of a 2024 election win.
Harris, whose approval ratings generally lag behind the already low numbers of Biden, has taken heat from various commentators and observers for weakness — a characterization that Pelosi rejects, calling the vice president “politically astute.” She also argued that vice presidents — really — don’t do that much anyway.
“She’s the vice president of the United States,” Pelosi said in defense of Harris. “People say to me, well, why isn’t she doing this or that? I say, because she’s the vice president. That’s the job description. You don’t do that much. You know, you’re a source of strength, inspiration, intellectual resource, and the rest.”
She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her successor made too many concessions.