House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ramped up the rhetoric on the importance of uniting behind him as House Speaker of the 118th Congress Friday with dire warnings about the future of the Republican agenda otherwise.
“It’s all in jeopardy.”
The same day that former President Donald Trump was offering a full-throated endorsement of the California lawmaker to become the next speaker, McCarthy joined radio host Hugh Hewitt where he revealed the five conservative holdouts including Rep Andy Biggs (AZ), who has been promoted as an alternative nominee, “have not moved” — the five holdouts leave him one vote short of the 218 needed.
“Well, we’re still continuing to talk, but they have not moved,” McCarthy said of the House Freedom Caucus members that also included Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL), Bob Good (VA), Ralph Norman (SC) and Matt Rosendale (MT). “And the difficulty here is that, you know we are the only Republican entity stopping the Biden administration, but we’re also going to be the only ones that can move forward.”
“But it would delay everything, getting committees up and running, being able to do the things that you know we need to get done from the very beginning,” he continued.
In response, Hewitt suggested one of the stalled objectives would be the recruitment of candidates to run for the House in 2024, inadvertently validating the concerns of conservatives that McCarthy’s continued stewardship of the caucus will result in a further return toward the status quo in Washington, D.C.
“It’s not only delaying that,” he replied to the host affirming the point, “it’s being prepared to not only defend the majority, but grow the majority. You want to take advantage of having the majority.”
As previously reported, Trump criticized the opposition McCarthy’s leadership by voicing his own concerns that the House could end up being led by someone like former Reps. John Boehner (R-OH) or Paul Ryan (R-WI) who were the last two Republicans elected speaker. “I think it’s a very dangerous game that’s being played. It’s a very dangerous game,” Trump said. “Some bad things could happen.”
“Look, we had Boehner and he was a strange person but we ended up with Paul Ryan who was ten times worse,” the president continued. “Paul Ryan was an incompetent speaker. I think he goes down as the worst speaker in history. We took [out] Boehner–and a group of people, some of whom are the same, and they’re very good friends of mine. All those people are very good friends of mine.”
Trump backs McCarthy for speaker: ‘Kevin has worked very hard … I think he deserves the shot’ https://t.co/7SYgbMBOwA
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) December 17, 2022
McCarthy furthered his point by asserting, “Remember, this is a presidential year, so you only have so many months to really get out there and govern. And you want to hit the ground running. Every day you lose, if you lose a quarter, you don’t start strong.”
“So you don’t get new, stronger candidates. You don’t get more resources to be able to supply those candidates to get the message out. And people look at us and believe are you ready to be the majority if this is what’s happening?” he began a series of rhetorical questions. “How can you pass the big bills? How can you change the course of history? How can you secure the border? How can you become energy independent? How can you get passed the parent’s bill of rights? It’s all in jeopardy.”
Of course, McCarthy’s attempt to squelch his opposition did little to change the fact that conservatives found themselves disappointed for a second consecutive election cycle when they had been promised a big red wave only to barely squeak out a majority in one chamber this go-round. Apprehension toward awarding continued leadership to those who seemingly failed to deliver has seen challenges to heads throughout the Republican Party.
Along with the challenge to McCarthy, and a lackluster one against Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a serious contest to unseat Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel remains with both attorney Harmeet Dhillon and businessman Mike Lindell having announced their bids to lead.
Despite his gloom and doom, McCarthy suggested his belief that the Freedom Caucus members would come around “in the end.”
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