House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif at his office on Capitol Hill. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
House conservatives are throwing up major roadblocks in House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) path to the speakership.
Why it matters: If House Republicans manage to eke out a majority from the midterm elections, it will likely be a narrow one, meaning just a handful of members could block McCarthy from getting the gavel.
- McCarthy told CNN on Wednesday that he has the votes to become speaker.
- But behind the scenes, conservatives are trying to squeeze McCarthy for major procedural concessions, including a rules change that could allow them to perpetually hold his speakership hostage.
The state of play: Republicans will hold their leadership elections next week. McCarthy just needs a majority to vote, by secret ballot, to reelect him as leader.
- The real challenge is when the whole House votes to elect the speaker. He’ll need practically his whole conference to stick together and back him then – and that vote is public.
What they’re saying: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), coming out of a meeting of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus on Thursday, told Axios “no one currently has 218” votes to become speaker in a vote of the full House.
- Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), who is openly opposing McCarthy, told Axios he’s “confirmed with many people that … there will be a challenge” to McCarthy at next week’s GOP leadership elections.
- “I think he’s in deep trouble … him prevailing on the floor of the House is going to be very difficult,” said former Trump official Russ Vought while coming out of the Freedom Caucus meeting.
- Axios has reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment.
What caught our eye: McCarthy on Thursday elevated his most prominent supporter in the Freedom Caucus, House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), by appointing him to his 118th Congress transition team.
- McCarthy also appointed House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is seen as a potential alternative to McCarthy but has said he will stay as his No. 2.