Republicans vote against Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House
WASHINGTON — The 118th Congress is making history before a single vote has been cast, promising a Jan. 3 battle between the “never Kevins” and “only Kevins.”
The smile on Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s face as he left the Capitol on Monday and predicted “a good day tomorrow” may indicate he thinks the “only Kevins” are winning in his bid for Speaker of the House.
But there are more than a dozen members within his Republican party who say they vote against him, raise concerns or remain on the fence about whether to support him.
This week’s outcome is unknown, but the math is clear: In a House with a narrow Republican majority, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes if he wants to hold the president’s gavel.
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If McCarthy is not elected on the first ballot, he would be the first speaker’s candidate in 100 years to fail. If the vote goes multiple ballots, ballots and drags on for days, it would be the first time something like this has happened in Congress since the Civil War.
And McCarthy supporters, such as Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, have not ruled out galvanizing moderate Republicans and some Democrats to get McCarthy the 218 votes needed.
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House Republicans who could stand in the way of McCarthy
There are two main blocs in the Republican House caucus that could stand in his way in Tuesday’s vote to elect the next speaker: the five ‘never Kevins’ who have publicly said they will not vote for him and nine members conservatives who refuse their support. as they push for changes to the house rules.
The “Never Kevins” include Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Matt Rosendale of Montana.
“McCarthy has gone into full negotiation mode to secure last-minute votes for Speaker of the House,” Biggs said in a statement Monday afternoon. “There are no more principles. It’s become a motto to take whatever you need. That’s what a McCarthy presidency would look like and put our country last.”
A group of nine conservative lawmakers pushing for concessions include Representatives Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Chip Roy of Texas, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland, Andrew Clyde of Georgia and three elected representatives : Eli Crane from Arizona, Anna Paulina Luna from Florida and Andy Ogles from Tennessee.
In a letter Sunday night, those nine lawmakers noted that McCarthy had made some concessions but not enough.
For example, they want only one member – rather than five – to be able to delete a speaker. And they don’t want House leaders spending money or campaigning against the Conservatives in open primaries.
“Nothing changes when nothing changes, and it has to start at the top,” Perry said in a statement Monday. “It’s time to make the switch or step aside.”
The pressure campaign against McCarthy continued on Tuesday night, with the conservative group Club for Growth urging its members to vote against a presidential candidate who does not meet its demands.
Demand involves holding a vote on term limits that include three terms in the House and two in the Senate ‘to expose career politicians who only serve their own interests and to enrich themselves, not public service in the best interests of the American people.”
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Candy Woodall is a congressional reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.