House Republicans are delaying decisions on major committee assignments and chairs for next year, a move that could help Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy undermine challenges to his presidential bid.
The House GOP’s internal steering panel was scheduled to meet with candidates this week for the disputed committee chairs, but that schedule was scrapped. Instead, those meetings could be delayed until January, when the panel will also meet with candidates submitting uncontested offers to chair a committee.
Officially, the delay will only affect three committees: Ways and Means, Budget, and Homeland Security. But the measure essentially freezes allocations for all other committees, since Ways and Means tax writing is a prize-winning allocation for more than a dozen members.
ANDY BIGGS CHALLENGES KEVIN MCCARTHY FOR HOUSE FLOOR SPEAKER
“If you can’t decide who’s president, you can’t decide who’s on the committee either,” said a senior Republican aide. “If there end up being two vacancies on a committee after the chair is decided, that doesn’t mean there are only two seats to fill. Members leave other committees for better ones; it creates a lot of confusion down the road.”
KEVIN MCCARTHY’S GOP DETRACTORS RECEIVED FINANCIAL HELP FROM HIM BEFORE THEY OPPOSED THE SPEAKER OFFER
It is unclear how long the delay will last. After the 2016 election, House Speaker Paul Ryan waited until the new Congress took office in January 2017 to decide on committee appropriations.
That delay helped Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, overcome conservative opposition to his second term as president. Ryan’s allies were able to use the threat that conservative opponents would be denied committee assignments.
“It builds leverage by putting up the threat that if you don’t vote for a person and they become a speaker, they’re going to screw you in committees,” said a Republican lawmaker who supports McCarthy but opposed Ryan in 2016. “But then it also creates resentment. among other members who want their assignments against those who oppose the speaker.”
The delay could end up benefiting McCarthy in a similar way. The California Republican faces public opposition from five Republican lawmakers on the question of him becoming a speaker.
The opposition is potentially problematic given that the GOP is slated to command a narrow 222-213 majority next year, and at least 218 votes are needed to elect a speaker when the House meets on Jan. 3.
MCCARTHY WARNS KEY GOP AGENDA ITEMS COULD BE STALLED IF LEADERSHIP VOTE FAILS TO ADVANCE
One of the GOP holdouts, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, announced Tuesday that he would challenge McCarthy on the House floor in January as a speaker.
“We cannot pass up this all-too-rare opportunity to effect structural change because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the established status quo, or because there is minimal risk to challenging it,” Biggs wrote in an op-ed announcing your candidacy.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
McCarthy doesn’t care for the challenge.
“I’ll take the speaker’s fight to the floor,” he said. “We’ll have 218. At the end of the day, we’ll get there.”