Kevin McCarthy offers GOP holdouts a last-ditch concession to clinch speakership

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a surprising move on Friday, floating a last-ditch concession to clinch the speakership, offering conservative critics the option of removing the House speaker if they are unhappy with his performance.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

The California Republican supported by former President Trump is offering to change a congressional rule that would make it easier to remove a speaker in exchange for his assuming the role of the top dog in the House. The change would lower the threshold required for a motion to vacate the chair. It’s a parliamentary gambit that forces a vote on retaining the speaker.

Under Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who changed the rule so this could not happen to her, only a member of the House leadership can offer a motion to vacate. Conservative House Republicans want that repealed, which would allow any one member to force a vote on the speaker at any time.

“Every member of Congress was elected to legislate on behalf of their constituents,” Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican who is running against McCarthy for speaker, noted according to Fox News. “To do that, members must be able to hold their own leadership accountable.”

Hard-line conservatives will be very tempted to accept the rule change, seeing it as an insurance policy to force leadership to adhere to policies embraced by Republicans. Many have feared that if McCarthy ascends to the speakership he would refuse to threaten a partial government shutdown in an effort to get President Biden to make concessions on policy.

“While difficult in practice, it is an important mechanism to restore trust and provide accountability,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) contended, according to Fox News.

The Republicans will now control the House of Representatives by a thin majority of 222. McCarthy will not have the luxury of ignoring conservatives’ demands. He needs 218 votes to secure the speakership on Jan. 3.

Conservative lawmakers, many associated with the House Freedom Caucus, have taken two separate stances on McCarthy, according to The Texan.

The first group, labeled the “Never Kevin” movement, is a group of five lawmakers who refuse to vote for McCarthy no matter what. It is composed of members such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has described McCarthy as “a shill of the establishment” and a “vessel through which lobbyists and special interests operate.”

(Video Credit: TheDC Shorts)

The second group includes seven lawmakers who are willing to consider McCarthy, including Rep. Chip Roy.

Roy has not ruled out voting for McCarthy but has signed a letter with six other Republican lawmakers identifying seven reforms to House rules and certain legislative priorities that a speaker candidate must support.

“For years … the House leadership of both parties has increasingly centralized decision-making power around fewer and fewer individuals — at the expense of deliberation and input by the body. This results in massive, multi-subject bills that are unable to be amended or fully read, all driven by supposedly must-pass defense and appropriations measures,” the letter asserts.

“In the process, we’ve amassed trillions of dollars in debt, empowered administration bureaucrats who target citizens, and failed to carry out our basic duties to defend the American People,” it continues.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) rebuked the attempt to change the rule, telling CNN, “You can’t govern with a gun to your head and that is what they are asking for,” and took aim at the language contained in the joint letter describing the rule as a mechanism of ‘Trust and Accountability.’”

“You can scream the word accountability all you want … in the end, it’s just a path to chaos, not stability, and we are going to have to be very united and very stable if we are going to govern properly,” Crenshaw said.

“Motions to vacate the chair were deployed only twice between 1910 and 2015,” Fox News reported. “In the first instance, Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to oust GOP Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon for ruling with what many claimed was an iron fist. The vote eventually failed after Republicans refused to buck their leader.”

“It was threatened again in July 2015 by then-Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Meadows sought to force a vote on Republican Speaker John Boehner’s decision to strip him from the House Oversight Committee for voting against a trade bill. Boehner’s allies within leadership prevented the motion from going directly to the floor, instead sending it to the House Rules Committee for consideration. Three months later, Boehner resigned after conservatives indicated they would not drop the issue,” the media outlet added.

McCarthy at that point made a bid for the speakership but was opposed by the Freedom Caucus. Unfortunately, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan took over at that point after securing a promise from the Freedom Caucus that it would not try and oust him in the same manner.

When Pelosi took over the gavel, she ostensibly changed the rule so she could not be removed.

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