Kevin McCarthy plays hardball with GOP committee assignments

Current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his allies on the Republican Steering Committee are reportedly delaying handing out committee assignments to give McCarthy an advantage going into the speakership battle next month.

As previously reported, McCarthy is eyeing the speakership but is also being challenged by a small cohort of House Republicans who want new leadership going into 2023:

But by delaying committee assignments, McCarthy may be able to out-maneuver them.

An unnamed GOP lawmaker explained to Fox News that what McCarthy’s essentially doing is holding the committee seats hostage in exchange for the speakership.

“It creates leverage by leaving the threat out there that if you don’t vote for a person, and they become speaker, you will get screwed on committees,” the lawmaker said.

In other words, if the dissidents don’t vote for McCarthy, they won’t get their preferred committee assignments. But if they do vote for him, then they will.

Of course, this threat is contingent on McCarthy actually winning the speakership. But as it stands, he’s backed by the majority of the GOP caucus, so he’s probably safe.

Plus, this same shtick once worked like a charm for former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“After the 2016 elections, House Speaker Paul Ryan waited until after the new Congress took office in January 2017 to decide on committee assignments. That delay helped Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, outflank conservative opposition to his second term as speaker. Ryan’s allies were able to use the threat that conservative opponents would be denied committee assignments,” according to Fox News.

“The delay could wind up benefiting McCarthy similarly. The California Republican is facing public opposition from five GOP lawmakers in his quest[] to become speaker,” Fox News notes.

One of the five is Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Indeed, speaking last month on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Gaetz said that of the 36 Republicans who voted against McCarthy during the initial speaker vote, five of them have vowed to vote “no” again come the final vote in January.

“To catch everyone up, last week there were 36 votes against Kevin McCarthy in the Republican conference, and again, Kevin has had years to try to convince people of the worth of his candidacy. Since that time, zero of those 36 have come out to say, ‘You know what, I voted against McCarthy previously, but I’m now prepared to vote for him on the floor.’ Zero,” he said.

“Meanwhile, five members, which include myself, Andy Biggs, Bob Good, Matt Rosendale, and now most recently Ralph Norman, have all come out and said that our ‘no’ vote on McCarthy is firm. It was not just a no vote within the Republican conference. It is a ‘no’ vote we intend to carry to the floor,” he added.

The five dissidents possess power because of the GOP’s slim majority.

“[T]he GOP is slated to hold a narrow 222-213 majority next year, and at least 218 votes are needed to elect a speaker when the House convenes on Jan. 3,” according to Fox News.

The problem is that 222 minus 5 is 217, which is less than the required 218 votes.

The five dissidents are hoping to install Rep. Andy Biggs as speaker instead. In fact, Biggs formally announced his candidacy for speaker in a Daily Caller op-ed published Tuesday.

Biggs argued in the column that Democrats want McCarthy as speaker, which is a surefire sign by itself that he shouldn’t be speaker.

“The Left wants to see a McCarthy Speakership, as outgoing Majority Whip Clyburn said. Establishment Republicans want to see a continuation of the Swamp, as Paul Ryan has endorsed McCarthy for speaker,”  he wrote.

“And, even phony conservative types, claim that McCarthy is the only guy for them (see radio talker Mark Levin for example, who after blasting McCarthy for years has decided that he is perfect for the job). And people wonder why the establishment is the establishment,” he added.

Concluding his column, Biggs accused McCarthy of being part of the establishment and argued that Republicans should choose a non-establishmentarian like him instead.

“We will never defeat or change the status quo, which is taking us to the Leftist’s vision of America, by selecting a status quo candidate as the third most powerful person in the government. The Republican candidate was created by, elevated by and maintained by the establishment,”  he wrote.

“Is this not the pivotal point of our generation? What will two more years under the Biden Regime look like if we do not have a leader who will stand up to its objectives? Or, If Republicans don’t use every available tool to preserve our rights and defeat the assault by Biden? Those who support such a change ought to join in our campaign by letting their elected representatives in Congress know that it’s time for a renewed America, not a time for protecting of the status quo,” he concluded.

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Vivek Saxena

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