Report: McCarthy Has 2-Phase Plan to Win Speakership

Phase one will involve getting at least a few rebels to change sides, sources say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2023 5:11 AM CST
Deal May Be Getting Closer in Speakership Fight
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is seen after the House voted to adjourn for the evening Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

After 11 failed attempts with near-identical results, Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be hoping for something different when the House reconvenes Friday to continue what is now the longest-running speakership election since before the Civil War. Some 20 hardline conservatives have consistently voted against McCarthy, but some opponents said late Thursday that talks with the McCarthy camp are moving forward, the Hill reports. "It's changes that we wanted," and the proposals are "on paper, which is a good thing," said holdout Rep. Ralph Norman. McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes, and a few of his fiercest critics, including Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, were not present at negotiations in the chief whip's office Thursday.

Norman said the concessions from the McCarthy side included a commitment to holding a vote on term limits for House members, and to giving rank-and-file lawmakers more power to alter legislation. Sources tell the Washington Post that McCarthy also offered to grant the key demand to allow a single member to force a vote on ousting the speaker, but only after the holdouts promised that the power would not be misused. The insiders say some of the 20 holdouts softened their positions after concessions were granted Wednesday night, but they continued to vote against McCarthy in five rounds of voting Thursday because the factions hadn't reached a firm deal yet.

According to the Post's sources, "phase one" of the McCarthy team's plan involves getting at least a few holdouts to vote for him—and if that succeeds, "phase two" will involve putting pressure on the remaining holdouts until there are only four left. After the House adjourned Thursday night, McCarthy denied that concessions including allowing a snap vote for removal weakened the power of the speakership, the New York Times reports. "The entire conference is going to have to learn how to work together," he said. "So it’s better that we go through this process right now." The AP reports that after the tenth and eleventh rounds of voting Thursday surpassed the nine ballots from 1923, the last time a speaker wasn't chosen on the first ballot, McCarthy joked, "Apparently, I like to make history.”

(More speaker of the House stories.)

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