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Mccarthy: if Republicans “Play Games” on the House Floor, Democrats Might Choose the Speaker
House Republican Conference skeptics were forewarned by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) not to challenge him for Speaker on the House floor. “We must communicate with one voice. Working together is necessary for our success; otherwise, each of us will fail on our own. We are the only stopgap for this Biden administration, so this is really vulnerable, McCarthy stated on Newsmax on Monday.
And the Democrats could seize the majority if we don’t handle this properly. McCarthy stated that if we engage in floor games, the Democrats may wind up choosing the Speaker. By defeating longshot challenger Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chair of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, in the House GOP’s nomination vote for the position earlier this month by a margin of 188 to 31 (five others voted against both candidates), McCarthy took the first step toward becoming Speaker of the House.
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But on January 3, the first day of the new Congress, he must earn majority approval on the House floor in order to become Speaker. McCarthy can only afford to lose a few Republican votes on the floor because Republicans won a smaller-than-expected majority of seats, 222 to 213 for Democrats.
The choice of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as Speaker is anticipated to be confirmed this week, and all Democrats are expected to vote for him. McCarthy’s bid for speaker is in jeopardy because at least five House Republicans from the hard-line conservative wing have either stated or strongly implied that they will not vote for him on the floor.
Reps. Bob Good (Virginia), Ralph Norman (South Carolina), Matt Rosendale (Montana), Matt Gaetz (Florida), and Biggs are among them. Others have voiced their doubts about McCarthy but have not indicated how they will vote on January 3. Biggs stated on the “Conservative Review” podcast on Monday that he believes there are about 20 GOP members who would vote “hard no,” which would end McCarthy’s campaign.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has parted with her Freedom Caucus colleagues to vehemently defend McCarthy, has issued numerous cautions about Democrats picking the Speaker, and McCarthy’s warning about it is echoed in those cautions. She claims that a small group of moderates may work with Democrats to choose a more moderate Speaker.
McCarthy also made references to the potential of moderates leaving the party and to other party divisions. McCarthy remarked on Newsmax, “You have to listen to everyone in the conference because five people on any side can halt anything when you’re in the majority.”
McCarthy’s detractors point to a number of issues, including his refusal to promise to pass a budget that reduces spending, his opposition to Freedom Caucus rule change requests that would give rank-and-file members more power, and his unwillingness to promise to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security.
McCarthy did demand Mayorkas resign last week in order to avoid a House GOP investigation and potential impeachment investigation. McCarthy’s supporters also note that there is no Republican challenger to him for Speaker, despite Biggs’ assertion that a more popular candidate will surface before January 3.
The Rock makes amends at a Hawaii 7-Eleven. Rep. Donald McEachin is remembered with a moment of silence in the House. “I believe cooler heads will triumph in the end. We’ll cooperate to determine the best course of action, McCarthy said.
A Speaker can be elected with fewer members than the 218 required for a majority of the entire House because they only need the support of those who are voting for a particular candidate by surname. That threshold is lowered by absences, “present” votes, and vacancies. Due to the passing of Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin (Va.) on Monday, his seat will likely be empty on January 3.