House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joined at right by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, holds a news conference before the start of a hearing by a select committee appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. McCarthy had added Rep. Jordan to the panel but Pelosi rejected him and Rep. Jim Banks, prompting McCarthy to pull all of his picks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Incoming committee chairs come to bat for McCarthy in speaker fight
Juliegrace Brufke December 19, 05:55 PM December 19, 06:05 PM Video Embed
Incoming House committee chairs are calling for the conference to rally around House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to become the next speaker as the California Republican faces substantial hurdles to locking down the support needed to secure the gavel during the floor vote in January.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to members of the conference on Monday, the incoming chairs argued that the party needs to rally around McCarthy so that committee work on legislative priorities and investigations isn’t further delayed due to a lack of speaker being in place.
“The American people voted last month to break Democrats’ one-party rule in Washington. They entrusted us, as conservatives, with the responsibility to fight for the values on which our country was founded — values that Democrats are determined to erode. In fifteen days, we will be sworn into the 118th Congress as the majority party in the House, and upholding this responsibility demands that we get right to work,” they wrote.
NEW: Incoming committee chairs come out swinging for Kevin McCarthy, arguing the conference should support him so committee work isn’t delayed. Story to come. pic.twitter.com/FCmzH3eQxY— Juliegrace Brufke (@juliegraceb) December 19, 2022
“This urgency is further underscored by the activity currently taking place in the Senate, as Democrats race to use their waning days of power in both chambers to force through trillions of dollars in new spending and a host of bad policies that will weaken our country. While we will be the first body in Washington to break Democrat control, we will be the last line of defense against their destructive agenda,” they added.
The group argued that Republicans need to unify ahead of January, making the case that the party will struggle to get parts of its conservative agenda passed if it enters the new Congress fractured over the makeup of leadership.
“Legislating is a team sport, and we must come together as one in order to accomplish the things the American people expect and demand. To see this in practice, look no further than the recent National Defense Authorization Act in which our conference successfully repealed the COVID vaccination mandate for our men and women in uniform — all in the face of opposition from the Senate and House Democrat majorities and President Biden,” they said.
“Repealing the vaccine mandate on our servicemembers was just the start, but we cannot afford to waste any more time if we are to stand a chance at getting America back on track. Simply put: we cannot begin our vital committee work — on legislation, investigations, oversight, or even staffing — until our conference coalesces around our elected nominee for Speaker of the House,” the letter adds.
The incoming chairs went on to say they “wholeheartedly endorse Kevin McCarthy,” arguing that he deserves a large share of the credit for flipping the House.
“He has the leadership skills, the vision, and the determination to take our conference where we need to go starting on Day One — and we would not be in the majority today if not for his efforts over the past two cycles,” they said.
“We urge our colleagues — let us not squander this majority before we even take back the gavels. Time is of the essence, and the American people want us to get to work now. Majorities are earned, never given — and the American people will remember how we choose to begin ours,” they continued.
Due to their razor-thin majority next year, McCarthy can only lose four votes on the floor unless his defectors opt not to vote or vote present, bringing down the threshold.
Five conservative hard-liners — former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) as well as Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Bob Good (R-VA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Ralph Norman (R-SC) — have publicly stated they plan to vote against him on the floor.
Both the pro- and anti-McCarthy factions have voiced concerns about their ability to hit the ground running amid uncertainty over who will be the next speaker. McCarthy opted to postpone the proceedings of the GOP’s steering committee, which is tasked with choosing who sits on and leads certain panels, for contested races until after the speaker vote as he looks to retain the backing from his current supporters and sway his defectors. The speaker holds a disproportionate degree of control over who holds committee gavels.
Who will head the House Committee on Ways and Means, House Budget Committee, House Homeland Security Committee, and House Committee on Education and Labor have yet to be determined.
McCarthy critics, many of whom have demanded substantial changes to the House rules — including bringing back the motion to vacate the chair, a mechanism used to oust a sitting speaker — have argued that he holds responsibility for the delays in the committees’ ability to hire staff and plan their respective agendas and is casting unwarranted blame on them.
© 2022 Washington Examiner