McCarthy Works to Sway Critics in the Final Days Leading up to the Vote for Speaker of the House

Democrat House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California is making a final push to sway potential defectors as he tries to lock down the support he needs to gain the Speaker position with a vote just days away. McCarthy laid out allowances during a recent small group call.

According to four sources well acquainted with the call, the discussion focused on potential changes to the motion to vacate the chair. Some conservatives are pushing for the parliamentary procedure to be restored to permit the removal of a sitting speaker. 

McCarthy proposed lowering the threshold to only five members in an attempt to appease his critics, who argue that the mechanism should remain in place and is necessary to hold whoever holds the Speaker position accountable. Critics say that the tool, which Democrats altered when they gained the majority, allowing only the majority leader to have the authority to file the motion, could be used as a weapon for leverage over legislative decisions. 

Centrists argue they will tank the rules package if the restoration of the motion to vacate the chair is completely restored. 

“[The] Freedom Caucus wants five — better than one. I don’t personally like it,” said a member who was on the call about the new threshold. Another senior Republican source noted that some members on the call weren’t happy they learned about the potential change to the motion to vacate via the media. 

“When we learn more about the rules package from the press before this call, it’s not going to go well,” said a source. 

GOP sources familiar with the discussion said Representative McCarthy asked House Freedom Caucus Chairman, Republican Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, along with conservative Representative Chip Roy of Texas, neither of whom have committed to voting for or against McCarthy, whether they were any closer to a deal. 

Some representatives remain “noncommittal”

One senior Republican said the Representatives’ responses were “noncommittal” and said Perry and Roy voiced some concerns from conservatives that go beyond the rules package but didn’t offer information on what may move the needed past the changes to the rules.

McCarthy still doesn’t have the needed votes to obtain the position, but sources said they expect the continuation of the discussion in the upcoming days. 

“No concrete package to show at the moment, but if support is there, we may have some agreements,” said one lawmaker. 

The GOP holds a slim majority after falling short of an anticipated red wave. McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes on the floor if his critics decide to vote present or not vote to bring down the threshold.

Five Republicans, including Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Andy Biggs of Arizona, who launched a bid against McCarthy’s speakership bid, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana, have vowed to vote against McCarthy. In contrast, others have said they are leaning toward supporting him. 

Another group of conservatives have laid out a list of demands for considerable changes to House rules, which include better chairmanships and committee positions for far-right lawmakers, the motion to vacate, a ban on leadership playing in the primaries, a return to regular order and reining in spending.