Where we are on McCarthy’s Race to be Speaker

Given the letter signed by nine House members that says, in effect, the rule change concessions made by McCarthy are too late and too vague for us to vote for him, McCarthy is five votes short.


“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.”

Clearly, the negotiations for votes for McCarthy have not produced any concrete agreement on the rule changes to elect McCarthy, despite McCarthy’s stated willingness to concede on the motion to vacate the chair.

Furthermore, the letter cited above is from nine other Members of Congress who are not the five “Never Kevin” GOP House members.

From The Hill [emphasis added]:

Members signing the letter included Perry along with Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and Reps.-elect Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) and Eli Crane (R-Ariz.). That group notably does not include the five members considered to be “Never Kevin” opponents: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).

Meanwhile, other House Republicans have stated unless the rule changes produce the votes on the House floor to elect McCarthy, they will not agree to them.  From the WSJ:

“On the conference call Sunday, centrist Republicans and others said they would only agree to the rules change if it brought Mr. McCarthy the votes he needs, according to two people on the call. Some are worried that the rules change could weaken the speakership. Mr. McCarthy didn’t say that such a change would bring enough opponents on board.”

Normally, in this situation, the answer would be to move the vote to give all sides more time to negotiate.

The problem is they can not move the vote.

January 3rd, as the opening day of Congress, is written into the U.S. Constitution.

And the first order of business in a new Congress is to elect the Speaker and pass the House rules it will be governed by during that Congress.

Assuming the letter signed by the nine GOP members means what it says, that these nine members cannot vote for McCarthy, then unless the McCarthy team can peel off five of the nine House Republicans who signed their letter, McCarthy cannot become Speaker.

Now, it appears that the two options are:

1) some other GOP House member can gain the support of 218 House Republicans, or

2) five or more GOP House members vote with the vast majority of the Dems to elect a moderate GOP Speaker.

Until the Speaker is elected by the Representatives of the U.S. House, then a clerk appointed by former Speaker Pelosi will run the House.

From the New York Times, by Brendan Buck, a former aide to the last two Republican Speakers:

The Constitution requires that the House elect a speaker, and the vote takes priority over all other business. Nothing else can be done until the question is resolved. The House votes on a speaker before it formally adopts the set of rules governing the body. The incoming members of Congress won’t even be sworn in until after they choose a speaker.



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