Prior to a vote in Congress on Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy is encountering opposition in his bid to become the new speaker of the House of Representatives. What had been considered as an easy road to success has become more painful owing to infighting within the Republican party.
McCarthy, a 57-year-old congressman from California, is the highest-ranking Republican in the House and has been widely considered the most likely successor to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House who is resigning after her party lost the majority in last year’s midterm elections.
On Monday night, it was still uncertain if McCarthy had the backing of enough of his party’s Republicans to win the Speaker vote on Tuesday. If Ryan loses, the vote for Speaker could cause havoc in the House, stalling legislation and revealing new cracks in a Republican party still trying to figure out its future after a lackluster showing in the midterm elections in November.
Although the Republican Party narrowly won enough seats in the House of Representatives to retake power, the “red wave” promised by McCarthy did not occur. In the upper house of Congress, the Senate, the Democrats gained ground after gaining control of a seat in Pennsylvania.
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The election of a new Speaker of the House is the first item of business for a new Congress, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives take part. To be elected as Speaker of the House, a candidate must get support from a majority of House members present (218 votes).
McCarthy, though, has had a hard time in recent months winning over members of the Republican caucus, particularly ultraconservatives and politicians who are unwavering in their support for former president Donald Trump.
Over the years, McCarthy’s relationship with Trump has swung from open demonstrations of allegiance to open hostility. Trump has referred to the lawmaker as “my Kevin” on several occasions. After the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, McCarthy allegedly stated, “I’ve had it with this man,” yet only weeks later, the two posed for smiling selfies together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate
McCarthy has spent the past few weeks attempting to improve his status inside the party by negotiating agreements that will appease the demands of various dissenters. He released his plan to overhaul House process over the weekend. However, nine Republican members wrote an open letter late Sunday night complaining that the reforms fell short of their expectations.
They want further compromises to make it simpler to force a vote of no confidence in any future Speaker. Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Scott Perry, who also signed the letter, stated on Twitter, “Nothing changes when nothing changes, and that must start at the top.” It’s either time to adapt, or you should get out of the way.
McCarthy’s supporters were confident on Monday that they would be able to win over enough lawmakers to pass their agenda. The congressman left the Capitol building on a Monday afternoon without answering any questions from reporters, but he did say, “I hope we will have a nice day tomorrow.”
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On Tuesday, if McCarthy doesn’t get the most votes in the first ballot, the House will have consecutive polls, which hasn’t happened in over a century. Many on Capitol Hill are preparing for the process to take several days until McCarthy either gains enough support to become majority leader or decides to stand down.
Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), McCarthy’s deputy and a potential successor if the latter fails, has supported his boss’s attempt thus far.
In the days leading up to a vote on Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy has faced resistance in his effort to become the new speaker of the House of Representatives. The Republican party’s internal strife has made what was once a smooth path to victory far more difficult to achieve.
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