Kevin McCarthy will not be House speaker, Matt Gaetz says

Election 2022 Trump
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks before former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Kevin McCarthy will not be House speaker, Matt Gaetz says

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says he is convinced House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will not become speaker, a declaration that signals a turbulent process given the GOP’s ultraslim projected margin in winning control of the lower chamber.

The close ally of former President Donald Trump rejected the possibility of McCarthy’s ascension ahead of an internal GOP conference meeting in which members heard pitches from leadership contenders in the caucus.

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“I’m not voting for Kevin McCarthy. I’m not voting for him tomorrow. I’m not voting for him on the floor. And I am certain that there is a critical mass of people who hold my precise view. And so the sooner we can sort of dispense with the notion that Kevin is going to be speaker, then we can get to the important work,” Gaetz proclaimed Monday on the Charlie Kirk Show.

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Republicans are slated to hold a vote on House leadership Tuesday, with the Senate GOP following suit Wednesday. McCarthy is vying for the nomination to be speaker. If successful, he will then have to win a floor vote with at least 218 votes by the new Congress early next year. Republicans are projected to win 219 House seats, per NBC News, with some races still outstanding nearly a week after the midterm elections.

Thus far, McCarthy does not have a formal challenger. Some expect former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to throw his hat in the ring, but he has not publicly declared. A slew of House Republicans was rankled by the failure to postpone the leadership and have mused about backing Biggs in a show of defiance, per Politico. Members of the conservative caucus are making demands for some concessions if they are to back McCarthy.

Gaetz previously dangled the prospect of former President Donald Trump being voted speaker, but Trump has ruled out such a move and has since backed McCarthy. One does not have to be a member of Congress to rise to the speakership. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) suggested this weekend that some Republicans could vote for Trump to spite McCarthy.

A handful of Democrats have eyed the possibility of cutting a deal with McCarthy to help him nab the gavel in exchange for concessions. Others have pondered an alternative, including outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

“There are definitely at least five people, actually a lot more than that, who would rather be waterboarded by Liz Cheney than vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House,” Gaetz said about McCarthy.

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Gaetz had worked the phones to some of his fellow Republicans, lobbying against McCarthy. During his appearance on the Charlie Kirk Show, he backed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for the role, hailing him as the “hardest-working, most ethical, most talented member of the House.”

He later contended that better options than McCarthy will emerge and speculated that the minority leader was considerably short of the 218-vote threshold.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a conservative firebrand and ally of Gaetz, has spoken out against a GOP challenge to McCarthy, saying, “I actually think that’s a bad strategy when we’re looking at having a very razor-thin majority with potentially 219 [seats]. We’re talking about one vote.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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