McCarthy says ultra-conservative GOP holdouts are 'squandering this majority' by opposing his bid for House Speaker

McCarthy says ultra-conservative GOP holdouts are 'squandering this majority' by opposing his bid for House Speaker
Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.AP Photo/John Locher
  • California Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the Republican nominee for the next Speaker of the House.

  • In order to win the seat, he needs almost all 222 GOP House members to vote for him on Jan. 3.

  • McCarthy faces holdouts in his party, who he says would "squander" a GOP majority by opposing him.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican nominee for the next Speaker of the House, is facing an uphill battle to secure the votes he needs to win the seat in January, with holdouts from within his own party posing the greatest threat to his victory.

McCarthy, in an interview with Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures," said those GOP holdouts, by opposing his bid, would be "squandering" the Republican majority set to take control of the House of Representatives in the next congressional session.

"Right now, it's actually delaying our ability to govern as we go," McCarthy told host Maria Bartiromo. "So I'm hopeful that everybody comes together, finds a way to govern together. This is what the American people want. Otherwise, we will be squandering this majority."

In order to win the election for Speaker — the position third in the line of presidential succession — a candidate must win an absolute majority of the votes cast: 218 in this case of the 435-seat House. The 118th Congress, which convenes on January 3, 2023, will have 222 Republican members, compared to 212 Democrats. All Democrats are expected to vote for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York for the Speakership, giving McCarthy a narrow window to secure his win.

"I think everybody is respected in the House, regardless of where you are," McCarthy told Bartiromo. "We have got to remember, we're going to sit at 222 members, so any five members can hold us up for achieving."

GOP Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana — all members of the conservative Freedom Caucus — have vocally opposed McCarthy's bid for the Speakership. The Hill reported the group has planned to either enter a vote of "present" or for a candidate other than McCarthy.

Additional members of the Freedom Caucus have declined to make their position on McCarthy public, though Fox News reported some of the conservative hardliners have proposed a new congressional rule that would make it easier to vacate the Speaker seat in exchange for voting for McCarthy.

GOP Rep. David Joyce of Ohio on Sunday called the proposed idea "stupid," during an interview with "This Week" on ABC and said McCarthy has "done the hard work that was necessary to bring together the majority."

Should McCarthy fail to secure the needed majority of votes, the House will repeat its roll call vote until a new Speaker is chosen. Multiple roll calls have only occurred 14 times in history and not since 1923, according to a report by Congressional Research Service, when nine votes were required before a new Speaker was chosen.

"We're not going to be held hostage by a handful of members when the overwhelming majority of the conference is in full support of Kevin," Rep.-elect Mike Lawler, a New York Republican, told co-anchor Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, adding: "This is potentially obviously something that could come to a head. But I do think cooler heads will prevail. And I do think, on January 3, Kevin will have the necessary votes to become speaker."

Representatives for McCarthy did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

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