House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declined to say whether he will endorse Donald Trump for president in 2024 despite the former president’s backing of McCarthy as he vies for the speaker’s gavel in January.
“We haven’t talked about that yet,” McCarthy told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday when asked whether he will support Trump above other presidential candidates for the next election cycle.
The California Republican’s comment comes as Trump has reportedly been making calls to potential defectors in an attempt to sway them to support McCarthy on the floor, with five hard-line conservatives having voiced plans to vote against him. An additional group of seven Republicans recently released a letter containing a list of demands for changes to House and conference rules that they are calling for from any speaker contender. That list includes barring leadership from taking sides in primaries and language to allow any member to file a motion to vacate the chair, a mechanism used to oust a sitting speaker.
Trump endorsed McCarthy for the leadership role just ahead of Election Day.
McCarthy largely sidestepped reporters’ questions on his struggle to lock down 218 votes, calling a question on the matter “inappropriate.”
The California Republican has gone to great lengths to attempt to sway his critics, including holding a forum to debate rules changes and voicing opposition to omnibus spending legislation amid conservatives’ calls to vote down a sweeping government funding bill. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are pushing instead for a stopgap measure until the new year to provide the GOP more leverage in negotiations after they take back the majority in the lower chamber.
Despite facing significant hurdles, McCarthy has repeatedly expressed confidence that he will prevail on Jan. 3. But his most vocal critics have insisted he won’t have the votes, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arguing that the support will not be there and the conference will rally around a consensus candidate.
McCarthy opted to delay the House GOP’s steering proceedings amid his struggle to get to 218, leaving some within the conference concerned that delays in the committees’ ability to hire staff, as who will lead the panels remains in flux, could hinder their ability to hit the ground running in pursuing key items they laid out in their agenda on the campaign trail.
“Today, we’ll have a meeting on when it comes to the House rules, and we’ll be taking steering up when we move forward,” he said, declining to weigh in on whether he is concerned about delays in tackling their priorities.