McCarthy said Republicans could cede control of the House in January if they aren't unified.
While on Newsmax, the Californian warned against the GOP playing "games" on the House floor.
McCarthy is working to round up votes among GOP members that he'll need to lead the lower chamber.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday warned fellow Republicans opposed to his potential speakership that Democrats could select the next speaker if the party doesn't stick together, as the California lawmaker continues his effort to round up the requisite votes needed to lead the lower chamber in January.
During an interview on the Newsmax program "Spicer & Co." featuring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and journalist Lyndsay Keith, McCarthy said Republicans would have to be unified in setting their legislative agenda in order to successfully counter the policies of President Joe Biden.
"We have to speak as one voice. We will only be successful if we work together, or we'll lose individually. This is very fragile — that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration. And if we don't do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats could end up picking who the speaker is," he said.
In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans vastly underperformed most expectations, with the party flipping the House from Democrats but poised to hold a razor-thin 222-213 majority next year, with nearly every race called. While Republicans had expected to potentially pick up dozens of seats, their candidates sputtered in many swing districts and the control of the House wasn't officially decided until days after the November 8 general election.
While McCarthy earlier this month won a vote against conservative Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona (188-31) to lead the House Republican Conference, the GOP leader must also win majority support on the House floor when the new Congress reconvenes in January.
Republicans only have a handful of votes over the 218-vote threshold needed to control the House, and at the moment, there are five Republicans who said they will not back his speakership. That group includes Biggs, Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana. All of the potential floor holdouts are a part of the conservative Freedom Caucus, whose members sometimes gave major headaches to the last two GOP speakers — former Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Democrats, on the other hand, are poised to bring on a new slate of leaders, with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York set to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California as House Democratic leader. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California are likely to round up the top House Democratic leadership posts within the party.
Over the past few weeks, several conservatives have said that backing McCarthy is imperative. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia cautioned against a handful of Republicans potentially joining Democrats in selecting a more moderate speaker.
McCarthy, during the Newsmax interview, emphasized that addressing the concerns of every member of the House Republican Conference would be critical with such a thin majority.
"You have to listen to everybody in the conference, because five people on any side can stop anything when you're in the majority. When you look at the past history, when Paul Ryan ran, he had more people vote against him in the conference and then they voted for him on the floor," he said.
"We've got five more weeks. We're working through our conference rules today. We want to make sure that everybody has input. I think at the end of the day, calmer heads will prevail. We'll work together to find the best path forward," McCarthy added.
While 218 votes are required to control the House, a speaker can be elected with fewer votes, as "present" votes and vacancies can also lower the threshold needed to secure the position.
In a recent interview with The Bulwark, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who's retiring at the end of the current congressional session, predicted that the party would have "a totally nonfunctional majority" in January.
"When there's a 15, 20 person majority, it takes a lot of people to deny the future Speaker his votes. But when it's just like three, four, five you can find it," Kinzinger said.
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