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Tipsheet

'No Plan B' for Anyone But Kevin McCarthy to Become Speaker, Rep. Salazar Declares

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Although House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may be facing difficulties when it comes to the math on becoming Speaker of the House, there are nevertheless those members steadfastly behind him. While speaking with reporters at Tuesday's Republican Governance Group (RG2) meeting, Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) made clear that McCarthy has her support and the support of many other Republican members. "There is no Plan B," she declared, emphasizing support for McCarthy's candidacy. 

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Such support stands in contrast to opposition from Republicans who may not or have already shared they will not support McCarthy. RG2 has approximately 50 members for the new Congress. 

McCarthy is facing a challenger, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC). The group has been seeking concessions from McCarthy. 

Should McCarthy not receive the necessary 218 votes to become Speaker, Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) has floated the idea of working with Democrats to find a supposedly more moderate pick. In making such a suggestion, though, Bacon has also gone to war with fellow Republicans. This includes Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who nominated Biggs for the position. 

Bacon has not merely angered fellow Republicans, he also does not appear to have any such agreement from Democrats. 

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was just recently elected by his fellow Democrats as House Minority Leader for the 118th Congress, for which Republicans will have a narrow majority. On December 4, Jeffries appeared on ABC News' "This Week," during which he was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about the possibility that "Democrats will cooperate" with the idea of supporting a so-called "moderate Republican." 

"I wouldn't say that it's a possibility," Jeffries responded, emphasizing that Democrats and Republicans will each be working with their own members for the new Congress. "Democrats are preparing to get ourselves ready as we transition," the incoming Democratic leader instead focused on, emphasizing how members still intend to work more so with the Biden administration and Senate Democrats when it comes to getting their agenda cross. Jeffries also appeared confident that Democrats will only be in the minority temporarily.

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A theme from Democratic leaders for the 118th Congress is that they don't appear to have much, if any, interest in doing anything but doubling down on furthering their own positions and agenda.

When discussing how Jeffries made such comments downplaying even the possibility of such an idea of working with Republicans, Rep. Salazar was also just as clear in that there was no need to work with the Democrats. It is Republicans in the majority this time, the congresswoman firmly reminded.

On Wednesday, McCarthy held a meeting he himself called to discuss concessions that HFC members are interested in. A big focus is on bringing back the motion to vacate, which is how HFC members resigning then House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2015. Punchbowl mentioned details about the then upcoming meeting in that morning's newsletter:

Conservatives want McCarthy to agree to post legislation 72 hours before the House considers it. McCarthy told us he’s in favor of that. 

But principally, these hardliners want to change the motion to vacate, which would allow any member to force a vote on removing the speaker. (Conservatives claim Thomas Jefferson created the motion to vacate. He didn’t.)

McCarthy said today’s session is meant to foster a conversation about the path forward so the full conference feels bought into next year’s rules package.

“Whatever we’re going to do in the next Congress – we’ve got a five-seat majority,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to have to find a way that we all come together.”

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McCarthy has also been in the news for opposing a framework for the omnibus deal to fund the government, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) meanwhile supports. McCarthy and the HFC at least appear to be in agreement over this much, as the emphasis has been on House Republicans want more control given that they will be in the majority following the lame duck session.

Former and potentially future President Donald Trump has reportedly gotten involved in the Speaker's race by making calls asking that members support McCarthy, according to The New York Times' Maggie Habberman.

"Speaker of the House" has been trending on Twitter over Wednesday when it comes to McCarthy's aim to fill the position, in part due to Trump's involvement.

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