House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s quest to become speaker of the House has run into new headwinds as the lower chamber of Congress prepares for a leadership vote on Tuesday.
Republicans gained control of the 435-member House in the November elections, with 222 seats. To be elected speaker over Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona — the only other Republican who has publicly said he wants the post — McCarthy needs 218 votes. That means any more than four Republicans opposing him, assuming all Democrats do, could sink his chances for the post.
On Sunday, nine Republicans signed a letter saying that McCarthy’s efforts to woo conservative Republicans have been, in essence, too little, too late.
“[T]he times call for radical departure from the status quo — not a continuation of past, and ongoing, Republican failures,” the letter said.
Republican Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Chip Roy of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland and Andrew Clyde of Georgia signed the letter. Reps.-elect Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Eli Crane of Arizona also signed on.
The letter said although McCarthy paints himself as part of the solution, he is part of the problem.
“For someone with a 14-year presence in senior House Republican leadership, Mr. McCarthy bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across that long tenure,” it said.
The letter said last-minute promises from the California congressman are not enough.
“Regrettably, however, despite some progress achieved, Mr. McCarthy’s statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead of the opening of the 118th Congress on January 3rd,” the letter said.
“At this stage, it cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient,” it said.
“Thus far, there continue to be missing specific commitments with respect to virtually every component of our entreaties,” the letter said.
JUST IN: New letter from conservatives says McCarthy hasn’t gone far enough.
Notably, the letter also says that McCarthy has not addressed the leadership “working to defeat conservatives in open primaries.”
Speaker election is Tues and 9 Rs are still skeptical. pic.twitter.com/DDgIBjPAkk
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 2, 2023
One issue at play is the ability of rank-and-file representatives to call for a vote to remove a sitting speaker. Conservatives want all members to have that right, which was severely restricted under the leadership of outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
McCarthy has proposed some changes, but they do not go as far as some conservatives want.
“Mr. McCarthy’s statement also continues to propose to restrict the availability of the traditional motion to vacate the chair as a means of holding leadership accountable to its promises; we have from the beginning made clear that we will not accept following Nancy Pelosi’s example by insulating leadership in this way,” the letter said.
“We also note that the statement fails completely to address the issue of leadership working to defeat conservatives in open primaries,” it said.
“The progress made thus far has been helpful and should guide our thinking going forward,” the letter said.
The nine members signing the letter are not the only ones opposing McCarthy.
I’m not voting for Kevin McCarthy for Speaker because he’s just a shill of The Establishment.
The reason most of my Republican colleagues are supporting him is because they benefit from the redistribution of lobbyist & special interest money from McCarthy to their campaigns. pic.twitter.com/bdJmjwy6W7
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 27, 2022
McCarthy has tried to paint himself as the agent of change.
“The simple fact is that Congress is broken and needs to change,” he wrote in a “dear colleague” letter.
MORE: Dear Colleague letter from McCarthy (signed “Speaker-Designate”) aims to address more concerns from detractors and skeptics. “I will use my selections on key panels to ensure they more closely reflect the ideological makeup of our conference.” https://t.co/LJbNoYfLz2 pic.twitter.com/fyof35DyPI
— Emily Brooks (@emilybrooksnews) January 2, 2023
McCarthy described the era he hopes to change as one that “relegated members of both parties to the sidelines, with mammoth bills being drafted behind closed doors and rushed to the floor at the last minute for an up-or-down, take it or leave it vote.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.