The chances of current Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy assuming the gavel from Nancy Pelosi when the new GOP minority officially takes over are hanging in the balance amid opposition from some lawmakers, and in another plot twist, former Speaker of the House John Boehner was sighted at the Capitol on Wednesday.
McCarthy has yet to secure the 218 votes necessary to become the next Speaker, casting doubt on whether he will be the one who leads House Republicans who narrowly retook the lower chamber despite expectations of a “red wave” that would sweep out power-abusing Democrats and usher in a new era of conservative dominance, a disappointing result despite the deep unpopularity of President Joe Biden and his policies that left many laying the blame on his uninspiring leadership style and failure to capitalize despite a historically favorable political environment.
With McCarthy having trouble closing the deal, the Boehner spotting led to speculation that the Ohio Republican who held the speakership from 2011 to 2015 could end up with the job again when the 118th Congress begins its work.
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 30, 2022
With the U.S. Constitution being vague about whether the Speaker of House has to actually be a sitting member of Congress, some asked why not Boehner?
If McCarthy really can't get the votes and it goes to several ballots, I can think of one man capable of governing the House with a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats pic.twitter.com/V1CWkXz5IK
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) November 30, 2022
GOP House members who are vocally opposed to a McCarthy speakership include Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona.
“Kevin McCarthy (Establishment-CA) is now reduced to threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him,” Gaetz wrote in a tweet on Nov. 18. “We have the votes to force a change.”
Kevin McCarthy (Establishment-CA) is now reduced to threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 18, 2022
One prominent House conservative has sided with McCarthy, warning that a challenge to his leadership could crack open the door for malicious actor Liz Cheney who is beloved by Democrats to instead become speaker despite a humiliating primary drubbing by her Trump-supported opponent, costing Dick Cheney’s daughter her Wyoming House seat.
“It’s very, very risky right now to produce a leadership challenge, especially for Speaker of the House, when they are going to open the door and allow Liz Cheney, possibly, to become Speaker,” Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast in November.
“The danger is this, do we want to watch a challenge for Speaker of the House simply because the ‘Never Kevin’ movement — just like we’ve seen a ‘Never Trump” movement — do we want to see that challenge open the door to Nancy Pelosi handing the gavel to Liz Cheney?” Greene asked.
McCarthy warned House Republicans not to “play games” over his speakership, suggesting that doing so would allow Democrats to make the decision.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) November 29, 2022
“This is very fragile that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration. And if we don’t do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats could end up picking who the speaker is,” he said during an appearance on NewsmaxTV this week
“So I think at the end of the day, calmer heads will prevail. We’ll work together to find the best path forward. And I believe at the end of the day, since I’ve been leader, all we’ve done is been able to gain seats. We have not lost seats,” McCarthy added.
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