Home USA News McCarthy’s pursuit of the oratorical hammer comes at a high price

McCarthy’s pursuit of the oratorical hammer comes at a high price


WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is waging the fight of his political life, sifting through the promises and proposals, cajoling and deal-making necessary to win over reluctant colleagues whose support he needs to become House speaker.

Each new commitment by McCarthy can be seen as a potentially strategic move aimed at placating naysayers on his right wing as he reaches for the speaker’s gavel. With a slim majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, the GOP leader must strengthen his ranks in a sprint to get the 218 votes he will need when the new Congress convenes — each of which will be costly and with no margin for error.

“We’re going to get there,” McCarthy said while accepting his party’s nomination for speaker.

The overtures McCarthy makes, some symbolic, some substantial, provide a snapshot of the hopeful speaker’s new leadership style. While McCarthy is expected to prevail in his quest for the speaker’s gavel, it will come at a political price, setting the tone and tenor of the new Congress.

For starters, McCarthy promised to restore committee assignments for far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., after she and another right-wing lawmaker were killed by Democrats for inflammatory remarks.

And he vowed to oust Rep. Adam Schiff, R-Calif., and other prominent Democrats from their committees as political payback, setting up a split in the House at the start of the new Congress.

McCarthy assured that under his leadership, the House of Representatives will remove the metal detectors that were installed to prevent firearms in the House chamber; ending the COVID-era protocols that allowed lawmakers to vote by proxy; and fully restore limited visitor access to the Capitol following the uprising by supporters of former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021.

And in a dramatic nod to the far right, McCarthy threatened an impeachment inquiry against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas if he did not resign over the department’s handling of the US’s southern border with Mexico.

“McCarthy’s problem is he can’t get to 218 without Marjorie Taylor Green, Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz,” Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to the House’s most outspoken far-right members representatives of the Republican Party. “And so he will do whatever they ask.”

The challenge facing McCarthy is not unique as he seeks to garner support before the new Congress convenes in January. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., faced naysayers in her own pursuit of the gavel and had to deftly pick off naysayers one by one until she won support.

But the challenge McCarthy faces is distinctly Republican, one that almost doomed his last predecessors. Paul Ryan and John Boehner suffered politically when they were pushed and prodded by the far right wing of the GOP to make concessions for their support. Both eventually won the Speaker’s gavel, but ended up retiring early.

After achieving victory for his party in the midterm elections, McCarthy won the support of most of his colleagues, who nominated him for the post of Speaker. But the 188-31 vote among Republicans showed a handicap he must overcome. When the new Congress convenes in January, the entire chamber, Republicans and Democrats, will vote for the speaker, and McCarthy’s party will need to hold together with its slim majority for him to win. Otherwise, another Republican may emerge as a compromise candidate.

“It’s a tough case,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who gave McCarthy a tough challenge for the nomination.

“I know he thinks he’s going to make it,” Biggs said. “I don’t know if he can.”

Although McCarthy beat Biggs 188-31 in a closed-door vote, and five other Republicans cast ballots for other candidates, that’s about three dozen votes the GOP leader needs to win back if he hopes to win the speakership.

“They know they have a problem,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C., another member of the Freedom Caucus. “In other words, 36 no votes is a problem.”

As the leader of the party, McCarthy has countless tools at his disposal, including favors he can provide to garner support, from appointing top committees or newly created leadership roles to pledging to advance lawmakers’ own priorities, including investigating President Joe Biden and his family. and his administration.

The influential Freedom Caucus has long wanted more involvement in the legislative process — rather than a top-down approach — and its members have been pushing more specific demands on McCarthy that would give them more power, even at McCarthy’s expense.

“At the end of the day, I hope we’re going to go into conference and elect Kevin,” Rep. James Comer, R-Kyiv., the new Oversight Committee chairman, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” »

Comer said “certainly five to eight members have said they are leaning towards voting against Kevin McCarthy”. Opposition of this magnitude would derail McCarthy’s attempt to become speaker.

The California Republican has been here before, dropping out of the speaker race in 2015 when it became clear he didn’t have enough support.

To win over the skeptics, McCarthy met with Republicans as they worked out their party’s internal rules for the new Congress. Although such rules usually do not matter much to the public, they play an important role behind the scenes.

For example, some conservatives want McCarthy to ban earmarks, which allow lawmakers to direct federal dollars to local projects and programs in their home states, a legislative perk long derided as a waste.

Others want McCarthy to ensure a balanced federal budget in the coming years, which would require significant spending cuts.

Some of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives want to restore the rule that allows any member at any time to file a motion to remove the speaker, which was used by then-Rep. Mark Meadows as a pressure point during Boehner’s tenure. Instead, they adopted a provision that such a “petition for the removal of the chairman” can only be made with the consent of the party.

McCarthy left one private meeting calling it “a great discussion.” He noted that this is the beginning of a long process that will continue in the coming weeks.

“I don’t know if it wins them over,” he said. “I think it’s about discussing and listening to them.”

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