As anti-McCarthy dissidents voice their intention to deny Republican House Speaker-designate Kevin McCarthy the speaking gavel, Republicans in his camp are warning of compromises that could lead Democrats to vote for a ” unity candidate”, as a promise not to indict. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas either repealing Biden’s legislation, equal subpoena authority, or negotiations over how committees are structured and how many members are on them.
Discerning the wish list that would garner support from Democrats is becoming more relevant, as names like Rep. Liz Cheney and retired Rep. Fred Upton are being considered as possible alternatives.
Right now, five Republicans are entrenched against McCarthy, and while some allies believe those members would line up amid significant backlash if McCarthy doesn’t reach the 218 threshold on the first ballot, others worry that multiple rounds voting can open the way for a challenger to overcome him with significant Democratic support.
Congressman Bruce Westerman, an Arkansas Republican, told fellow Republicans at a conference Tuesday that this scenario is not that far off, relaying his own experience as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives.
“I was the minority leader in the Arkansas House of Representatives. We flipped the majority, there hadn’t been a Republican majority in 138 years,” Westerman told Fox. “It was close, 51 to 49. Our conference met, we adopted a political agenda, we selected our speaker, and we thought everything was fine until we another Republican challenged. He had the support of 49 Democrats.”
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“I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that the Democrats would elect our first Republican president in the Republican legislature. We did it with secret ballots on the floor of the House and I couldn’t believe what was happening,” Westerman said. “I was trying to make the case at our conference that we better unify, or we’re opening the door for something like that to happen.”
Now at least one House Democrat is expressing a willingness to support a “unity candidate,” under certain conditions.
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Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California tells Fox: “I’m open to the historic possibility of a unity candidate for president who puts the needs of the nation first with the agenda of once again becoming a manufacturing superpower, a leader in technology and more autonomous”. -dependent. The American people are desperate for us to come together to solve big problems and ensure that we, not China, lead the 21st century. To accomplish this, we would need a commitment to regular order in committee, with some kind of shared commitment. subpoena power. We need a leader who is more interested in legislating than in initiating investigations. The key is to empower grassroots members with more of a say in the governance of our nation so that we can engage and get things done. Winston Churchill provided a model for a broad coalition government that achieved great things. This moment in American history cries out for a bold move in that direction.”
McCarthy has said he won’t seek Democratic votes, and some moderate Democrats say it’s impossible anyway.
“There probably isn’t any concession or promise that Kevin McCarthy can make to attract Democratic votes. Most believe he is unprincipled, he sold his soul to Trump and he cannot be trusted,” said a moderate Democratic House member, who asked not to be named. “That being said, there are many principled conservatives in and out of the GOP conference who could build significant support among Democrats. With a D majority in the Senate, the priority issue is absolutely the structure, composition and leadership of the House committee. Limitations on the impeachment(s) would be sweetening, though the optics create complications.”
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This member said that the Democrats are “willing to play anyone but McCarthy, Biggs, Jordan and Stefanik.”
Republicans are also upset by the prospect of “present” votes, and whether that could potentially help or hurt McCarthy.
Because the House rules for winning the presidency require a majority of the full-house vote for a candidate, each absentee or “present” vote lowers the threshold for reaching a majority by one, since only members who vote by a candidate count toward the majority threshold.
This means that if the numbers go a certain way, there is a scenario in which a Democrat like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries could be elected Speaker of the GOP-led House of Representatives.
For example: if all 212 Democrats vote for Jeffries, McCarthy gets 210 and some go to other candidates – Jeffries is not yet elected President because he didn’t reach 218. But if Jeffries gets 212, McCarthy gets 210 and 12 Republicans vote “present”: Jeffries wins, and a Republican-controlled Congress could end up with a Democratic speaker.
Alternatively, getting a couple of Democrats to vote “present” could help McCarthy, who can only afford to lose 4 Republican votes, if all 434 members utter a name. At this time, Reps. Ralph Norman, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good, Matt Rosendale and Andy Biggs, who is also running for president, have vowed not to endorse McCarthy.
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In the most unlikely scenario: if multiple rounds of voting fail to produce a speaker, Congress could adopt a resolution to elect the speaker by a plurality (more than any other candidate), not by a majority (more than half of the total), but such a resolution would have to be approved by a majority vote and ratified by a majority vote.