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McCarthy and His Major Concession to Become House Speaker: Will It Be Enough?

House Republicans’ Next Opportunity to Drain Swamp by Banning Earmarks, EFE

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The most important week of Kevin McCarthy’s political career has started. The Californian is one step away from becoming the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, the situation is far from resolved.

Republicans regained control of the House in the 2022 elections, albeit by a much smaller margin than expected, which is only making the choice of the next speaker more complicated. Far from Dick Morris’ prediction, who was able to forecast a gain of between “60-80 seats,” the GOP managed to flip 14 seats, translating into a majority of only 9 legislators (222-213).

This figure directly empowered minorities within the caucus, as their votes are now needed more than ever to sustain the new majority and to elect the Speaker. With Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Bob Good (R-VA) in clear opposition to McCarthy, McCarthy conceded a key point to bring this group closer together.

McCarthy, El American
Kevin McCarthy faces an uphill battle to become Speaker of the House (EFE)

In a lengthy conference call on Sunday, McCarthy and his staff reported that they would lower the barriers for a sitting speaker to be deposed. If finally implemented, the measure would allow five members of the House majority to force a vote of no confidence in their leader, a long-standing demand by the MAGA wing of the party.  

In particular, members of the House Freedom Caucus have long been pushing for this concession, something that, according to POLITICO, would weaken McCarthy’s position if elected.  

However, this may not be enough. A group of nine congress members responded to the Californian’s missive by asserting that not enough demands have yet been met to vote for him. “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,” wrote the group, led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

According to them, McCarthy’s letter lacked “missing specific commitments with respect to virtually every component of our entreaties,” although they noted that some of the progress has been “helpful.”

Kevin McCarthy’s calculator for becoming Speaker

It takes 218 votes to become Speaker. That said, members of Congress are not required to vote for one of the nominees, so they can vote for another member of Congress or literally whomever they want. This could cause the aforementioned number to drop to half plus one of those who vote “for a person by name.”

For example, if 20 legislators vote “present”, 208 votes in favor would be needed to be elected Speaker. If that does not happen, i.e., in the event that no one person receives the aforementioned majority, the roll call vote will be repeated until someone gets enough votes. The last time more than one ballot was required was in 1923, when nine were needed to elect Frederick Gillett (R).

Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]