The contentious fight among Republicans as to who will be the next speaker of the House took another turn as nine House Republicans penned a harsh warning against electing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to the position. McCarthy needs 218 votes, but the GOP has only 222 seats, and a defection of five votes would prevent him from gaining the position.
Representatives 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, joined Representative-elects Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, and Eli Crane of Arizona to write the open letter on January 1, the day after McCarthy wrote a letter titled “Restoring the People’s House and Ending Business as Usual,” in which he pledged to improve the efforts of House Republicans.
Although the House contains 434 members, with one vacancy after the death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), some may not be present; some may only vote “present,” which would mean their vote would not be counted in the total. That would mean a lower total than 434, which would mean in turn that less than 218 votes would be needed to gain the speakership. Additionally, the representative-elects are not members of the House until they are sworn in by the speaker, and thus their prospective votes may not matter.
“Mr. McCarthy’s title, ‘Restoring the People’s House and Ending Business as Usual,” is a welcome and telling admission of the longstanding and deep dysfunction of the House of Representatives and statement of aspiration to begin to set it right in the 118th Congress,” the nine Republicans stated, before warning, “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.”
“At this stage, it cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient,” they charged. “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. For someone with a 14-year presence in senior House Republican leadership, Mr. McCarthy bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across that long tenure.”
“Thus far, there continue to be missing specific commitments with respect to virtually every component of our entreaties, and thus, no means to measure whether promises are kept or broken,” they continued. “Moreover, some in the Republican conference have expressed that absent universal support for Mr. McCarthy, they would reject even the progress made to date regarding rules and changes to bill text availability, single subject and germaneness requirements, and other structural changes for the good of the body and every member.”