According to one member of the room, Kevin McCarthy, House GOP Leader, took questions from his conference members at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on Monday night. This was part of his attempt to calm House Republican concerns and gain enough support to take over the conference in the new Congress.
According to a source familiar, McCarthy received a standing ovation at their first meeting after the election.
McCarthy stated, “They don’t give out gavels small, medium, or large – they have the majority and
House Republicans will meet Monday night to discuss the leadership candidates and vote closed on Tuesday. McCarthy will not need a simple majority to be elected speaker after Tuesday’s vote. However, the vote on the House floor to elect a speaker will take place when the new House convenes in January. McCarthy will need 218 votes to win the position.
According to GOP sources, Andy Biggs from Arizona, who was a former chairman for the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus is looking into challenging McCarthy in the House GOP’s internal leadership elections. McCarthy’s team is prepared for this possibility.
Biggs declined to confirm whether he was challenging the House GOP’s internal leadership election on Tuesday, but he was certain there would be a challenger.
Biggs stated that “Nobody has 218 votes” and that there will be a challenger at the conference.
Chip Roy, a Texas GOP Rep., told reporters Monday afternoon to challenge McCarthy and get enough votes to prove that he doesn’t currently have enough votes to win in January.
Roy stated, “There will always be an alternative.”
Trump urges his allies to support McCarthy
Two sources close to the matter claim that former President Donald Trump encouraged his allies to support McCarthy for House speaker. They believe McCarthy will be a valuable asset in the future, should the former president be challenged in the 2024 primary.
In an interview with Fox News last Wednesday, Trump reiterated his support for McCarthy’s leadership bid. He has been calling to convince Republican allies to support him, especially conservative members who remain skeptical about McCarthy.
This news comes just days before Trump’s announcement of a third presidential campaign. Sources said that the former president and the California Republican had spoken several times since the midterm election. McCarthy’s camp hopes that Trump’s endorsement will win over some of his most ardent supporters, who have been critical of McCarthy.
It hasn’t yet broken through despite Trump’s pro-McCarthy campaign. Many of Trump’s most loyal allies are seen in the media attacking McCarthy. One notable Trump ally, however, will get to vote in the speaker’s race. This was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia. She called it a “bad strategy” as well as “risky” to challenge McCarthy due to their likely slim majority.
McCarthy has done a lot to court Greene. He met with her weekly in his office and promised her better assignments to the committee after Democrats kicked her out of committees for incendiary comments.
During the GOP’s disappointing midterm gains, particularly on the House side, Trump aides have privately criticized Tom Emmer, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Although it hasn’t yet predicted which party will control the lower chamber, Republicans seem to be on track for a narrow House majority. Emmer will be competing against Rep. Jim Banks (an ally of Donald Trump Jr.) for the House GOP whip position.
One Trump advisor stated that McCarthy must be protected from any blame, as Trump needs McCarthy for his presidential campaign.
Trump is eager to secure Republican support for his third presidential bid. A separate GOP source said that Trump has been asking the media to find out which GOP lawmakers have supported him. Elise Stefanik, Chair of the House GOP Conference, has been the highest-ranking Republican to support Trump’s bid for 2024.
Trump’s support of McCarthy is in direct contradiction to his relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to GOP sources, Trump called up his Senate allies to oppose the Kentucky Republican in advance of Wednesday’s leadership elections.
A small but vocal group of GOP senators have called for delaying their leadership elections to allow them to have a “family conversation” about the reasons why the GOP has underperformed. At least one Republican, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri, has publicly pledged to oppose McConnell’s bid for GOP leader.
McConnell has been calling his coworkers over the past few days to build his support, as his team prepares to move forward with Wednesday’s leadership elections. They plan to hold a GOP air-clearing meeting on Tuesday.
House Freedom Caucus influence is looming
McCarthy was visited Monday by several Freedom Caucus members as they try to negotiate concessions in return for their speaker votes.
Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican Representative, stated that McCarthy was open to hearing them out but that McCarthy won’t cut any deals until Tuesday. Perry is “99% certain” that McCarthy will be challenged by someone to prove that he doesn’t have the 218 votes that he needs on the House floor in January.
Perry stated, “I don’t believe anything’s gonna change between now and then,” before he left the meeting in McCarthy’s office.
Rep. Bob Good said McCarthy faces “an uphill battle” to become the speakership. He said that they have asked McCarthy to present to them his plan for running the House.
Perry stated that their main focus was to seek rule changes that would empower members and weaken speakers, but that this is not the end of their issues.
He stated, “We want this place to change dramatically. To reflect the will and acknowledge its brokenness.” Anyone who wants to be a leader must outline their vision and explain how they plan to change it.