Where do House negotiations stand on second day of McCarthy speaker vote?

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Kevin McCarthy and Matt Gaetz. AP

Where do House negotiations stand on second day of McCarthy speaker vote?

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Negotiations between House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and the members obstructing his path to the speakership appear to have reached an impasse — dragging the leadership vote into a historic second day.

Conservative members have for months conditioned their support of McCarthy for speaker on receiving more influence within the GOP conference. Other lawmakers have joined their growing group of holdouts.

Their demands ranged from better committee assignments for conservative members to changes in the way members can offer amendments to bills.

Critics such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) say McCarthy has offered too little, too late in the process to earn the trust of skeptics.

A person familiar with the negotiations told the Washington Examiner that no new concessions were offered from Tuesday evening into the second day of voting on Wednesday.

After three rounds of voting on Tuesday failed to produce a House speaker, here is where negotiations stand.

MOTION TO VACATE

A key demand from conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus was to revive a procedural tool that allowed any lawmaker to call for a vote of no confidence in the speaker.

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi essentially dismantled the rule when she required a majority of one party to support advancing a motion to vacate instead of a single member.

Over the weekend, McCarthy, at last, relented on restoring the motion to vacate, something he had resisted doing for weeks.

But he did not fully embrace a return to the motion to vacate rule that conservatives wielded in their battle against former House Speaker John Boehner.

Instead, McCarthy said he would accept a rule that allowed five members to call for a motion to vacate rather than the majority of his conference.

McCarthy critics have since said the concession does not go far enough.

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

Leadership’s ability to control which members serve on which committees gives the House speaker significant power over rank-and-file members.

The House Freedom Caucus’s list of demands included a pledge from leadership to diversify the powerful Steering Committee, which determines committee assignments, by opening up more spots on the panel for members to win through election from their colleagues, not appointment from leadership.

Perry said on Tuesday that McCarthy walked back earlier pledges to elevate conservative members to sought-after committee posts.

“While he claimed to offer fair and equal representation for conservatives on all House committees, when we provided specific names willing to serve on each — as he requested — he balked,” the Freedom Caucus leader said in a statement.

SELECT COMMITTEES

Some lawmakers had called for the creation of a targeted select committee to amplify the Biden administration investigations Republicans had already planned to launch upon taking the majority.

In a letter on Sunday laying out his concessions on the rules changes, McCarthy said he would support “the establishment of a new Church-style Select Committee focused exclusively on exposing the weaponization of government against our citizenry, writ large.”

Influential Fox News host Tucker Carlson echoed the conservative call for a powerful committee, modeled after the 1970s committee convened to investigate abuses by the intelligence community, to probe FBI influence in American politics.

AMENDMENT PROCESS

McCarthy opponents have complained that House rules don’t presently give members enough authority to offer amendments to bills on the House floor in an open process.

“The Rules Committee sits up there and passes a bill, sends it to the floor, and we have no debate on the floor of this body,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said in a floor speech on Tuesday. “We haven’t been able to offer an amendment on the floor of this body since May of 2016.”

McCarthy said in his outline of concessions that he would ensure a process “with Members given more opportunities to influence the final product” of legislation.

House Freedom Caucus members had floated a threshold allowing any amendment supported by 10% of House Republicans to get full consideration; in McCarthy’s offer letter, the threshold “for priority consideration of germane majority party amendments” was proposed at 20%.

GOP PRIMARIES

McCarthy holdouts have said they won’t support his speaker bid until he pledges not to get involved in contentious Republican primaries.

McCarthy has denied ever doing so.

After Republicans’ disappointing performance in the 2022 midterm elections, some GOP voices have advocated even more intervention from party leaders in primaries, however.

Supporters of more involvement argue unelectable Republicans are too frequently winning primaries in competitive districts only to squander opportunities for the GOP by underperforming in general contests.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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