Republicans Explode in Meeting Before Speaker Vote

There’s a new Congress coming today, and it still remains unclear who will run things. The new Congress begins today with a Republican majority in the House. First up on its to-do list is to vote for a House speaker. 

Top U.S. House of Representatives Republican Kevin McCarthy faces a bruising political battle on Tuesday as he seeks to overcome opposition from hardline members of his own party to win the election as speaker.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and his top supporters erupted at the dozen-plus conservative hardliners vowing to block his speakership bid in a closed-door meeting just mere hours before the vote.

In a fiery speech to his conference, McCarthy underscored the extensive concessions he has made to those who have vowed to oppose him, largely those in the House Freedom Caucus.

But he also told members that there are about 20 GOP lawmakers who plan to vote against him, far more than the five who have publicly opposed him — underscoring the likely chaos that awaits the GOP as they seek to elect a speaker at noon. 

McCarthy is looking for the 218 votes he needs to get his hands on the gavel. The role would give him the power to steer the House agenda as his party takes the majority, giving it the power to rein in Democratic President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate, as well as launch potentially damaging investigations into Biden’s family and administration.

But over the weekend, at least nine hardline Republicans said they’re still not backing McCarthy. 

That’s despite offering potential concessions over the weekend, like making it easier to give him the boot and ensuring conservatives are better repped on committees. It’s a problem for McCarthy since Republicans only have a 222-213 majority. 

This means that McCarthy may only have four Republican votes to lose.

If McCarthy does not clinch the speaker role, Congress will keep voting until someone snags the needed votes. There is no clear alternative, but there is a challenger. 

Rep. Andy Biggs has stepped forward to challenge McCarthy. But some GOP lawmakers have signaled that they’d work with Democrats to choose a more moderate speaker, like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) or Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). 

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