House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens as other members speak during his news conference on FY23 government funding on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.
Bill Clark | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — As the House prepares to usher in the 118th Congress and new Republican majority on Tuesday, GOP Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is struggling to secure enough support for his bid to be House speaker to avoid a protracted and historic fight on the House floor.
The California Republican has lobbied his fellow Republicans for months and made several concessions to a small but outspoken bloc of conservatives. But the efforts have not yet produced the breakthrough that McCarthy needs to be elected House speaker in the first round of voice voting, which is expected to take place shortly after noon ET.
In order to be elected speaker, McCarthy needs support from a majority of the members who vote Tuesday, or 218 of the 434 House members expected to vote. But with only 222 Republicans total, and no Democrats expected to vote for him, McCarthy can only afford to lose four members of his caucus.
As of Tuesday morning, six current Republican members and three members-elect, all conservatives, still publicly opposed McCarthy. McCarthy also faced months of organized opposition from influential conservative outside groups, which have amplified his critics on social media.
McCarthy’s failure to win public support from his entire caucus has already cast a shadow over the new Republican majority, exposing divisions within the party that have existed for decades. The differences were deepened by former President Donald Trump, who emboldened a small band of ultra conservatives.
Trump eventually backed McCarthy’s bid for Speaker, as did other influential conservatives like Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
House Republicans began Tuesday morning with a caucus meeting that was viewed as McCarthy’s final opportunity to make his pitch to members who might be on the fence.
Heading into the meeting, McCarthy struck a confident tone.
“We’re going to unite the team,” he told Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman.
Yet judging from early statements by key Republican holdouts, the conservatives had a long list of demands they believed McCarthy has failed to meet.
House Democrats, meanwhile, openly relished the internal chaos roiling the opposing party.
“We certainly are seeing chaos today in Congress, and this is an extension of the extremism that we have seen from the GOP,” said incoming House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
She accused McCarthy of having “thrown away his moral compass.”
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.