Kevin McCarthy faces pressure to end deadlock over his crippled free speech bid after two Consecutive days of failed votes. But even after proposing big concessions to his fiercest opponents late Wednesday, it remains unclear whether the California Republican can muster the support he needs to win, and patience is wearing thin among lawmakers as the fight drags on.
However, there are some early signs that the talks are making some headway, as McCarthy and his allies try to overcome opposition from a crowd of conservatives.
In a series of new concessions first reported by CNN on Wednesday night, McCarthy agreed to propose a rule change that would allow only one member to call for a vote to oust a sitting speaker, according to two sources. McCarthy initially proposed a five-member threshold, a departure from current convention rules that require half the GOP to call for such a vote.
He also agreed to allow more members of the independent caucus to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee, which dictates how and when bills are debated, and to vote on some bills that prioritize balance sheets, including proposing time limits. LIMITATIONS ON MEMBERS AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM.
Republican sources say even if McCarthy’s offers are accepted, he still falls short of the 218 votes needed to become speaker. While these concessions have attracted some new support, other opponents have raised various concerns that have yet to be fully addressed.
McCarthy said Wednesday evening that there was still no deal to end the impasse, but that progress had been made. “I think it’s better for people to implement some more,” McCarthy said after the House adjourned.
The council reconvenes Thursday at 12 noon ET.
McCarthy has already made several concessions to his opponents, though his efforts so far have been insufficient.
But Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy allies and holdouts were the most productive and intense to date, the sources said. In a sign of progress, McCarthy-affiliated super PACs have agreed not to play open Republican primaries in safe seats — one of the big demands conservatives have made, but McCarthy has so far resisted.
A Texas representative was among the conservatives who voted against McCarthy’s free-speech initiative. Chip Roy told GOP leaders he thinks he can get 10 holdouts if the ongoing negotiations pan out, according to GOP sources familiar with domestic discussions. There are additional detractors who are willing to vote “now”.
Still, even if these negotiations prove successful and 10 lawmakers flip McCarthy’s column—which is far from certain—it will not give McCarthy the 218 votes needed to win the speakership, so he will have more work to do.
McCarthy also met separately Wednesday with the new members who voted against him, sources told CNN.
During the meeting, McCarthy reiterated some of the things he had already promised and elaborated on those concessions.
McCarthy’s direct communication to the newly elected provides another window into his strategy for winning over holdouts.
Incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer commented that the negotiations were “very constructive.”
“There’s a whole bunch of members involved, and some are sitting down now and talking about that discussion and seeing where they want to go with it next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
The battle for speakership, which began Tuesday in the first day of the 118th Congress, has left the new House GOP majority in disarray and narrowed the party’s agenda.
As the fight drags on, the situation has worsened for McCarthy’s political future, and even some of his Republican allies have begun to fear that the House GOP leader may not be able to pull off his gamble for the speakership if the fight drags on. .
McCarthy has come up short in six rounds of voting so far. The final GOP tally for Wednesday’s sixth ballot was 201 for McCarthy, 20 for the Florida representative. Byron Donalds Florida and a “present” vote.
The council will remain suspended until the crisis is over. This is the first time since 1923 that the election for Speaker has gone to multiple ballots.
To be elected Speaker, a candidate must win a majority of members of the House voting for a particular person. 218 votes if any member abstains or does not vote “presently”.
House Republicans won 222 seats in the new Congress, so for McCarthy to reach 218, he could only lose four GOP votes.