Rep. Kevin McCarthy appears not to have the votes necessary to win the House speaker’s gavel on the first ballot as a crucial group of conservative Republicans demanded a “radical departure from the status quo” in chamber leadership.
During a Sunday night conference call with members of the GOP conference, McCarthy (R-Calif.) acceded to a key demand pressed by members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, who had insisted that the process to remove a speaker — known as a “motion to vacate” — be initiated by just five Republican members instead of a majority.
A “motion to vacate” was filed in 2015 by then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and triggered the resignation of then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The rule was changed in 2019 by Democrats.
Nine hardline Republicans — Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Chip Roy of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, and Rep.-elects Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and eli Crane of Arizona — rejected McCarthy’s proposed rules changes as “insufficient.”
McCarthy’s “statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead” of the new Congress, they wrote.
“It cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient. This is especially true with respect to Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker because the times call for radical departure from the status quo — not a continuation of past, and ongoing, Republican failures,” the group of nine wrote in their response.
They added that “Mr. McCarthy bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across that long tenure.”
The 11th hour concession is an indication of how far the California Republican has to go yet to shore up the 218 votes needed to attain the speaker’s gavel when the full House votes on Tuesday.
With 222 Republicans set to be sworn in and all Democrats expected to oppose McCarthy’s nomination, the Californian can only afford to lose four members.
McCarthy also faces a challenge for the gavel from Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a member of the five-person “Never Kevin Caucus” that includes Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Ralph Norman of South Carolina.
Failure to reach the 218-vote threshold could lead to a protracted floor vote.
“Sometimes it’s taken days, sometimes it’s taken hours, sometimes it’s taken weeks. So hopefully that’s not going to happen,” Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), an avowed McCarthy backer, told Fox News Monday.
Good, in an interview Monday on “Fox & Friends,” said McCarthy has done nothing to “earn my vote” and ripped the former House minority leader as “part of the swamp cartel.”
”There’s nothing about Kevin McCarthy that indicates that he will bring the change that’s needed to Washington or that’s needed to the Congress, or he’ll bring the fight against the Biden-Schumer agenda and represent the interests of the voters who sent us to Washington to bring real change,” he said.
Good went on to predict that “there’ll be, I suspect, 10 to 15 members” who vote against McCarthy and for Biggs on the first ballot Tuesday before “on the second ballot an increasing number of members vote for a true candidate who can represent the conservative center.”
With Post wires