With a razor-thin majority in the upcoming Congress, the Republican Party will pick the next Speaker of the House. Unfortunately for long-time Congressional leader Kevin McCarthy, there may be just enough opposed to him to keep the gavel out of his hands.
McCarthy finally signaled a willingness to change House rules to allow any member of Congress to challenge the Speaker’s position, but many who have been calling for the rule change aren’t moved by his late concession. According to Fox News:
Under current rules, which were imposed under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, only a member of the House leadership can offer a motion to vacate, while the new proposal would allow any member of the House to force a vote to remove the speaker, at any time.
On Sunday afternoon, McCarthy met with GOP members to try and rally support for his speakership vote on Jan. 3, when the new Congress takes office. The embattled Republican leader conceded rank-and-file members will be allowed to call for the speaker’s removal, though he wasn’t clear about how many members would need to sign on to the motion, according to reports.
The meeting came after his letter on New Year’s Eve, titled “Restoring the People’s House and Ending Business as Usual,” which was his admission of the deep dysfunction of the House of Representatives and his pitch to make it right.
In response to McCarthy’s letter, GOP Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Chip Roy of Texas, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland and Andrew Clyde of Georgia, along with Rep.-elects Andy Nogales of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Eli Crane of Arizona sent a letter of their own.
“Regrettably, however, despite some progress achieved, Mr. McCarthy’s statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead of the opening of the 118th Congress on January 3rd,” the letter stated. “At this state, 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 letter continues to say that McCarthy’s 14-year presence in senior house leadership puts the burden of House dysfunction on him, which he now admits.
McCarthy needs a majority — 218 votes — to become Speaker. That means he can only afford to lose four Republicans if no Democrats vote for him. If the conservative holdouts do not bend, then McCarthy will scramble to get Democrat support. In fact, he’s almost certainly doing that right now.
America First patriot Andy Biggs has challenged McCarthy for the spot. Congressman Steve Scalise has been floated as a compromise selection if McCarthy can’t get the votes. The House will vote for Speaker on Tuesday.