As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues his bid to become the chamber’s next speaker, a vocal minority of Republicans could doom his chances to receive the 218 votes necessary to clinch the title.
Much of the opposition comes from the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, where several members have vowed to vote against McCarthy in the upcoming vote. With a razor-thin majority in the next legislative session, he can only afford to lose the support of a handful of House Republicans.
Even within the Freedom Caucus, however, there is some dispute over whether the GOP should coalesce behind the current party leader or take its chances on another candidate. Some of McCarthy’s reluctant supporters warn that opposing him could give Democrats an opportunity to join forces with moderate Republicans to select a speaker to his left.
The two sides of this debate were outlined in a pair of recent op-eds by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), both of whom are members of the conservative caucus.
Writing for the Daily Caller, Gaetz argued against supporting McCarthy for speaker, insisting that he “has no ideology” and would “cave to liberals” if given the opportunity to lead.
He went on to compare McCarthy unfavorably to former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), writing: “In sports, when the team loses games it is supposed to win, the coach gets fired.”
Continuing the analysis of the GOP’s underwhelming performance in last month’s midterm elections, Gaetz noted that “in business when earnings vastly miss projections, the CEO is replaced” and in his own party, “a promotion shouldn’t be failure’s chaser.”
For her part, Greene rebuked the “Never Kevin Five” for digging into their position against McCarthy, even calling out her “dear friend” Gaetz in the process.
“Many of his attacks against Kevin McCarthy are comparisons to Paul Ryan,” she wrote. “It’s quite ironic given Matt’s very first vote in Congress was for Paul Ryan as speaker. Even when we all knew Paul Ryan would never deliver the MAGA agenda.”
McCarthy has adopted a confident tone in discussing his chances of becoming the next House speaker as he makes promises aimed at rallying support among his party’s far-right wing.
Agreed. Except no need to whip—when I’m Speaker, their bills will be dead on arrival in the House if this nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward over our objections and the will of the American people. https://t.co/WCC477R4IM
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 20, 2022
In a defiant statement about McCarthy’s strategy, one adviser said of his GOP rivals: “Kevin gave them an opportunity to negotiate in good faith. Now there’s going to be more of an effort to expose the craziness of what they’re doing.”