On Eve of Speaker Vote, McCarthy Isn't a Sure Thing

He can only afford to lose 4 GOP votes, and he could lose 12 or more
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2023 12:13 AM CST
McCarthy Still Hasn't Locked Down the Votes for Speaker
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2022.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

On the eve of a potentially historic vote, Kevin McCarthy still hadn't locked down the 218 votes needed to become House speaker—though he had already started moving in to the office Nancy Pelosi just moved out of, the Hill reports. As he left the office Monday, reporters asked him whether he had the votes he needed and all he would say, per an NBC video, was, "And take away all the excitement?" USA Today reported Monday night that at least a dozen Republicans were either planning to vote against him, were still undecided, or had raised concerns about him, and with the GOP's slim 222-213 majority in the House, he can only afford to lose four votes. The Hill puts the number of possible McCarthy opponents even higher, at 14 or more.

"The fact that we are now approaching the eleventh hour is not the fault, or is not the responsibility, of his detractors. It’s his responsibility, and the blame lies with him,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry tells the Hill. Perry has not said how he will vote. But Jim Jordan, one of the lawmakers McCarthy met with Monday night, said he hopes McCarthy will win on the first ballot. If he doesn't, it's not clear what will happen, as many of his supporters say they won't vote for anyone else as long as McCarthy is still seeking the post. CNN reports Steve Scalise, No. 2 in House Republican leadership, is in a particularly awkward position, since he's seen as the most likely alternative to McCarthy—but he's also McCarthy's top deputy. More on that, and who else could emerge as a candidate, here. The vote starts at noon Eastern time. (If it fails, it will be historic.)

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