An increasing number of House Republicans are vowing they’ll only vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker, and that they’ll keep doing so “as long as it takes.”
“Americans elected a Republican Majority to provide a check and balance on the administration and to find solutions to the problems our nation is facing, we can’t do that if we don’t elect a Speaker on January 3,” wrote Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Republican Main Street Caucus, in a one-page letter dated Friday and first obtained by POLITICO.
The two lawmakers said that their group of roughly 70 members met on Thursday and came to the consensus that they were prepared to vote for McCarthy for as long as necessary, that they had “strong reservations” about potential rules changes that the GOP leader is considering in order to shore up his support. The two lawmakers said the group would pull support for rules changes if McCarthy were not “expediently” elected as speaker.
Five conservatives are publicly threatening to vote against McCarthy for speaker, enough to keep him from the needed 218-vote threshold in House Republicans’ slim majority. They and other on-the-fence members have been pushing for changes to House rules, particularly to a procedural move known as the “motion to vacate” that allows lawmakers to depose a speaker. The Main Street Caucus Republicans specified that both the motion to vacate and one other proposed change were “problematic.”
Any rules concessions would have to be “met with real, tangible, and proven concessions by those blocking Kevin McCarthy’s election as Speaker,” Bice and Johsnon wrote.
The Friday letter follows another signed by a group of more than a dozen GOP members from battleground districts. Those lawmakers and members-elect, from districts President Joe Biden won in 2020, had a similar message in a Thursday letter — that they would be voting for McCarthy “regardless of how many votes it takes.” They also specified they would not be supporting any type of “consensus candidate.”
McCarthy is slated to have a conference call with a select group of members Friday to continue discussing the rules for next Congress, as he works to win over the naysayers who have demanded the rules changes and other concessions.