On Tuesday afternoon, House Republicans sequestered themselves behind closed doors to elect their leaders for the next Congress, one in which they're expected to have the majority, including who will take the role of Republican Whip.
After two rounds of balloting among his colleagues, Rep. Tom Emmer won with 115 votes after defeating two other Republican congressmen — Rep. Jim Banks (106 votes) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (disqualified after first ballot).
Emmer, who served as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and was responsible for recruiting, supporting, and electing the Republicans who would make up the "red wave" that never materialized last Tuesday, saying post-midterms that Republican voters "should be extremely happy" with the outcome. In the second round of voting, Emmer prevailed over Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks.
The first ballot eliminated Chief Deputy Whip Drew Ferguson who came in third with 71 votes behind Emmer's 72 votes and Banks' 82 first-round votes.
Emmer's role as GOP whip has raised some concerns among conservatives for his past voting record that included crossing party lines to vote with Democrats in 2019 to block the Pentagon from implementing then-President Trump's restrictions on transgender Americans' military service. Emmer also voted to require federal contractors to allow biological males to use women's locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms.
Just yesterday, Emmer responded to a reporter's question saying "divisive social issues shouldn’t be brought to the House floor."
What's more, Emmer previously — according to reporting on criticisms leveled at Emmer in The New York Post — worked as a paid spokesperson for National Popular Vote, a resume item that drew fire from Emmer's fellow Republicans who opposed his promotion to GOP Whip. "Emmer’s opponents say his work about a decade ago as national traveling spokesman for the National Popular Vote initiative casts doubt on his suitability for the role of rallying opposition to President Biden’s agenda," the Post reported in the days leading up to the GOP's leadership elections:
David Bossie, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and president of the advocacy group Citizens United, told The Post, “The scheme to abolish the Electoral College has been a dedicated effort by the radical left for years because they want coastal elites from California and New York to decide the direction of America.”
The initiative was overwhelmingly financed by Democratic donors, according to the conservative Capital Research Center’s Influence Watch, which notes a $1 million contribution in 2011 from the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation. Jonathan Soros is the son of left-wing megadonor George Soros.
Beyond rhetoric and resume, Emmer's voting record has lagged behind Jim Banks when it comes to backing conservative policies and opposing Democrats' leftward-lurching agenda.
The American Conservative Union gives Banks a 97, while Emmer only received a score of 74. Similarly, Heritage Action for America has Banks at 95 percent and Emmer at 89 percent.
That's who Emmer is, and that's who will now be in charge of setting the direction for the GOP's razor thin, still yet-to-be-called majority.
If Republicans wanted conservative leadership in the Whip position, they could have gotten someone more conservative who has greater respect among movement conservatives in the House and who hasn't voted with Democrats to advance the left's radical agenda, or said "divisive social issues" don't belong on the House floor.
Republicans continue to cobble together their leadership team for the next Congress — despite their majority not being officially declared as of Tuesday afternoon.
As Katie reported earlier on Tuesday, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy cleared the first hurdle on his path to becoming the next Speaker of the House when he was nominated for the post. His fellow Republican Rep. Andy Biggs is challenging McCarthy, but the final outcome won't be known until the full vote in January.
Editor's Note: This story was updated to include additional material from The New York Post's report on criticisms of Rep. Emmer.