GOP in disarray? Matt Gaetz still a NO on Kevin McCarthy while Leader’s allies say he’ll


The 118th Congress is set to begin at noon on Tuesday but as of Monday evening, the House of Representatives‘ majority party is still divided over who will lead the chamber for the next two years.

House Republicans’ public divisions over current Leader Kevin McCarthy‘s bid for the House Speakership has already set their newfound power off to a bumpy start.

The GOP have 222 seats in the new Congress and McCarthy needs 218 votes, so he can only afford to lose four members to win the gavel. 

So far there are a total of 14 members of his caucus who have at least strongly suggested they’re voting against him.

The disarray culminated in a late afternoon meeting between McCarthy, his allies and some of his critics including Reps. Matt Gaetz and Scott Perry.

At around 5pm ET, Republican lawmakers were seen entering the House Speaker’s chamber. McCarthy’s staff moved furniture into that office earlier in the day in an apparent show of confidence – though it’s reportedly standard protocol to make the move so early.

House Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and Scott Perry were seen entering and leaving the Speaker's chambers, where current House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was spotted moving into in anticipation of winning the gavel on Tuesday

House Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and Scott Perry were seen entering and leaving the Speaker’s chambers, where current House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was spotted moving into in anticipation of winning the gavel on Tuesday

Gaetz told reporters the meeting was ‘brief and productive’ but insisted he was still opposing McCarthy, according to a video taken by NBC News’ Haley Talbot.

He’s one of five House Republicans who vowed to vote against the GOP Leader under any circumstance.

McCarthy’s allies however, like incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, expressed confidence after leaving the meeting. 

‘He’s going to be speaker,’ Emmer told reporters, according to CBS News.

McCarthy and his supporters have spent weeks trying to convince his critics, mainly conservatives to his right, to fall in line behind the California Republican. But they want concessions that moderates in the party – and until recently, McCarthy himself – have been unwilling to give. 

In a Sunday letter to colleagues, McCarthy announced several key concessions including a motion to vacate the chair with a five-vote threshold in exchange for conference-wide support.

Under the current proposed rules, it would allow any five House Republicans to call for a vote for a new Speaker. Moderates argued that it would fuel instability within the conference, comparing it to hanging a sword of Damocles over the party leader’s head.

But later that night, a group of nine additional current and incoming House Republicans signed onto a letter calling McCarthy’s announcement of concessions ‘almost impossibly late.’ 

Multiple reports have indicated that conservatives will prop up McCarthy’s No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise, in the California Republican’s place.

With just 222 Republicans in the new Congress, McCarthy can afford to lose just four votes to still be elected Speaker

With just 222 Republicans in the new Congress, McCarthy can afford to lose just four votes to still be elected Speaker

It's been reported that McCarthy's (right) current No. 2, incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (left), could be conservatives' pick for an alternative to McCarthy for Speaker

It’s been reported that McCarthy’s (right) current No. 2, incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (left), could be conservatives’ pick for an alternative to McCarthy for Speaker

Promising to further fuel the chaos, however, moderate Republican Rep. Don Bacon suggested on Monday night that such a mutiny would not go over easy.

According to CBS, Bacon told reporters that he’s considering nominating an outgoing member of the current Congress for Speaker if the five ‘Never Kevin’ Republicans put up Scalise to McCarthy.

Bacon wrote an op-ed in the Daily Caller on Monday calling McCarthy’s leadership ‘superb’ but reasserting that he was willing to work with Democrats for an alternative should the anti-McCarthy rebellion succeed. 

‘Much has been made of me saying I would work with moderate Democrats to elect a more moderate speaker,’ Bacon wrote.

‘But my actual words were that if the five refused to coalesce around what the vast majority of the conference wants, I’m willing to work across the aisle to find an agreeable Republican.’

While conservatives are opposing him, it appears McCarthy's supporters are searching for a plan B - moderate GOP Rep. Don Bacon (pictured in 2021) has indicated multiple times that he'd be open to negotiating with Democrats on a moderate Republican Speaker candidate should the California Republican's bid be derailed

While conservatives are opposing him, it appears McCarthy’s supporters are searching for a plan B – moderate GOP Rep. Don Bacon (pictured in 2021) has indicated multiple times that he’d be open to negotiating with Democrats on a moderate Republican Speaker candidate should the California Republican’s bid be derailed

McCarthy has had a wide spectrum of surrogates trying to persuade the holdouts over the last several weeks, from traditional conservatives like Gingrich to Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – allies of many of McCarthy’s biggest detractors. 

But their strategy to pressure detractors to conform and warning that a worse alternative was on the horizon appeared to do little to move the needle. 

Greene wrote on Twitter after reportedly also meeting with McCarthy on Monday night, ‘Unreal that people claiming to be America First are negotiating for ‘Me First’ positions when it comes to the Speaker’s gavel.’

‘The base deserves the truth. They would be as sickened as I am,’ the far-right Georgia lawmaker said.

But Rep. Andy Biggs, one of the five original ‘Never Kevin’ Republicans, tweeted after 8pm ET on Monday, ‘Even after the McCarthy Machine’s attempts to whip votes and smear my name for several weeks, McCarthy is still well short of the 218 threshold.

‘Our party still requires new leadership and I will continue to oppose McCarthy for House Speaker,’ Biggs said.



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