Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy kept his campaign pledge to kick former Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff from the permanent panel after the California Democrat spent years weaponizing the institution.
Last January, McCarthy promised he would strip Schiff from the premier House committee if Republicans reclaimed control of the lower chamber. Schiff’s four-year tenure as chair has been marked by remarkable abuse and grotesque politicization, with Schiff spearheading House Democrats’ impeachment efforts through the Russia hoax and allegations of Ukraine-related corruption.
California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell was also kicked from the committee after federal law enforcement found the congressman was likely compromised by a Chinese spy.
“I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee,” the speaker revealed on Twitter Tuesday night. “I am committed to returning the [House Intelligence Committee] to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
As then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s right-hand man, Schiff has undermined the credibility of the committee since 2019. The congressman was so useful to Democrats, the former speaker chose him instead of Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to preside over the first round of impeachment hearings against former President Donald Trump.
Schiff earned his favor with Pelosi as a star conman who was eager to leak stories about scandalous Russia collusion to allied media, which were thrilled to run claims that weren’t true. Meanwhile, the California congressman never hesitated to brag about having evidence that would land Trump in jail, which has been the No. 1 priority on the Democrats’ policy agenda since 2016.
In March 2017, Schiff said on MSNBC that “there is more than circumstantial evidence” that Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to capture the presidential election. Schiff would then be disappointed two years later when the Democrats’ special counsel investigation on the subject found that the White House occupant had not been a covert Russian operative.
The congressman’s reaction — to what should have been good news for anyone genuinely concerned about Russian espionage in the form of a presidential double agent — was defiance. Schiff just shook his fist on Capitol Hill and said more would come out.
“In the coming weeks and months, new information will continue to be exposed through enterprising journalism, indictments by the Special Counsel, or continued investigative work by Committee Democrats and our counterparts in the Senate,” he said in a press release. “And each time this new information becomes public, Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance.”
Of course, Schiff knew efforts to unmask Trump as a Kremlin plant were fraudulent investigations anyway. A 2109 report from the DOJ inspector general exposed how Schiff had been lying about the Russiagate conspiracy since the inception of the hoax.
Pelosi’s Intelligence Committee chairman went on to employ the same playbook for the Democrats’ witch hunt operations surrounding allegations of an illegal quid pro quo with the Ukrainian government and the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
As House Republican minority leader last year, McCarthy had been clear he would kick a trio of Democrat lawmakers from committees if he were eventually elected speaker. The move would follow the Democratic majority taking the unprecedented step of dictating Republican appointments in the last Congress. Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her assignments within a month of her swearing-in, and Pelosi barred Republican appointments to the Select Committee on Jan. 6. Pelosi’s refusal to greenlight McCarthy’s picks for the panel marked the first time in House history that minority appointments were barred.
McCarthy said Schiff and Swalwell were to be removed from the Intelligence Committee, and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar would be taken off the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The new Republican House speaker defended his decision to follow through with plans for removal on Capitol Hill Tuesday night.
“What did Adam Schiff do as chairman of the Intel Committee?” McCarthy asked a reporter who was shouting questions. “What Adam Schiff did [was] use his power as the chairman and lied to the American public. Even the inspector general said it.”
McCarthy went on to list a litany of lies Schiff told the public while leading the legislature’s most secretive committee. The speaker chastised Schiff for smearing Republican counterparts on the Intelligence Committee as Russian propagandists and seeking to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop.
“When Devin Nunes put out a memo, [Schiff] said it was false. When we had a laptop, he used it before an election to be politics and say that it was false and say it was the Russians,” McCarthy said. “[Schiff] used his position as chairman, knowing he has information the rest of America does not, and lied to the American public.”
McCarthy made clear no Democrat lawmakers would be denied proper seats on committees to represent their constituents, but added that none of the three lawmakers whom he reassigned would serve in roles related to national security.
“They’ll serve on committees, but they will not serve on a place that has national security relevance because integrity matters to me,” McCarthy said.
The Republican House speaker restored committee assignments to Greene and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar last week.
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.
The House Republican Steering Committee on Tuesday selected several conservative firebrands to serve on the Oversight Committee during the 118th Congress, including multiple members who previously had their committee assignments stripped by House Democrats during the previous Congress.
The GOP-led House Oversight Committee will be composed of Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Eric Burlison (R-MO), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Chuck Edwards (R-NC), Russell Fry (R-SC), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and William Timmons (R-SC).
OVERSIGHT: Marjorie Taylor Green, Paul Gosar, Lisa McClain, Boebert, Anna Paulina Luna, Russell Fry, Nick Langworthy, Chuck Edwards, P. Sessions, Eric Burlison, Scott Perry, Kelly Armstrong, William Timmons, Tim Burchett, Jake LaTurner, Byron Donalds and Gary Palmer
The Steering Committee selections will have to be approved by a vote from the entire House Republican conference, which “typically approves the Steering Committee’s recommendations,” according to The Hill.
In the weeks leading up to the 118th Congress, Biden’s White House announced they would not co comply with GOP oversight requests until they officially took majority control of the House.
However, Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) has recently begun probing President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents after reports that several boxes of White House records from his tenure as vice president were found in multiple locations.
Reps. Green and Gosar’s appointments to the Oversight Committee are significant because both members were stripped of their committee assignments by Democrats during the previous Congress.
House Democrats in February 2021, just one month after she took office, voted to remove Green from her committee assignments amid controversy surrounding her social media activity.
Then, in November 2021, House Democrats voted to remove Gosar from his committee assignments, which included the Oversight Committee, after he posted a controversial anime edited video to his Twitter account.
Along with investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents, the Republican-led Oversight Committee has also pledged to investigate the Biden White House for several things, including the ongoing border and fentanyl crises, the energy crisis, Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and the origins of the coronavirus.
The Biden White House is obstructing congressional investigations into: ❌border & fentanyl crises ❌energy crisis ❌Afghanistan withdrawal ❌COVID origins ❌Biden family’s influence peddling
Republicans in Congress say they will investigate the matter of classified documents found at the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy from President Joe Biden’s time as vice president.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said Monday evening that his committee will send a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration demanding answers and is open to hearings depending on where the investigation leads.
“President Biden has stated that taking classified documents from the White House is ‘irresponsible,’” Comer said in a statement, according to Fox News. “Under the Biden Administration, the Department of Justice and National Archives have made compliance with the Presidential Records Act a top priority.
“We expect the same treatment for President Biden, who has apparently inappropriately maintained classified documents in an insecure setting for several years,” he added.
Biden on 60 Minutes in September reacting to classified documents being found at Mar-a-Lago:
Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) tweeted: “Joe Biden took classified documents to his private office and LIED about it to 60 minutes. Why isn’t the FBI raiding Biden’s Delaware homes right now? House GOP will investigate!”
Joe Biden took classified documents to his private office and LIED about it to 60 Minutes. Why isn’t the FBI raiding Biden’s Delaware homes right now? House GOP will investigate!
CBS News first reported Monday that President Joe Biden’s lawyers discovered back on November 2, 2022 — right before the midterms — a batch of documents with classified markings from the time when Biden was vice president when clearing the center in Washington, D.C.
Biden used the center from mid-2017 until he began his 2020 presidential campaign, according to Biden’s lawyer Richard Sauber. Sauber said the documents were locked in a closet in one of Biden’s private offices.
Classified documents from Joe Biden’s vice-presidential office were discovered by the president’s personal attorneys at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C.; Statement from Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber pic.twitter.com/uDOEoXWIDj
House Republicans decried the hypocrisy between the National Archives’ treatment of the documents found at the Penn Biden Center with classified markings found last year at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) tweeted that as vice president, Biden did not have the authority to declassify classified documents.
“Biden stole classified documents and stored them at his think tank while he was VP,” he tweeted, before questioning the center’s status as a “think tank” and adding that it received $54 million in funding from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Biden stole classified documents and stored them at his think tank while he was VP.
The VP does not have any authority to declassify classified documents.
And this “think tank” received $54 million in funding from the CCP.
Numerous Republicans accused the Justice Department of having different standards of justice for Trump and Biden. The DOJ had convened a grand jury to look into Trump retaining any classified documents, and the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to look for them.
Dan Bishop (R-NC) tweeted, “Two tiers of Justice cannot stand.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration ordered an FBI raid on his top political opponent for…..having classified documents.
Jamie Raskin, ranking Dem on House Oversight: “Attorneys for President Biden appear to have taken immediate and proper action to notify the National Archives about their discovery of a small handful of classified documents”
At least two House Democrats expressed concern, albeit somewhat muted.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told CNN: “Obviously if there are classified documents anywhere they shouldn’t be that’s a problem and a deep concern.” However, he equivocated on whether there should be an investigation. “I probably don’t want to say more [until] I have a chance to read the article.”
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told CNN: “Classified information needs to stay in secure spaces.”
If Hill should probe. “I probably don’t want to say more time until I have a chance to read the article. But I think it ought to be concerning to anyone if classified information is not where it should be”
Jim Himes to me: “Classified information needs to stay in secure spaces.”
Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) reportedly tried to place Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) on a live phone call with former President Donald J. Trump Friday night moments after Rosendale voted against Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker of the House on the unsuccessful 14th ballot.
McCarthy’s loss on the 14th ballot came by just half a vote, adding further tension to the 118th House of Representatives that had been voting for a speaker since Tuesday. Al Drago, a D.C.-based photojournalist, tweeted an image of what was called a “heated exchange” between the two representatives following Rosendale’s vote for Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, holds her smart phone with former US President Donald Trump on the line, as Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Republican from Montana, waves it off during a meeting of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber on Friday.#SpeakerVotepic.twitter.com/VWvOGfXd9Q
Greene, who has repeatedly voted for McCarthy, is seen extending her iPhone on a live phone call with a contact named “DT.” Drago, who identified the contact as the former president, noted that Rosendale, who was one of 21 former McCarthy detractors, “waves it off.”
Heather Caygle, the managing editor at Punchbowl News, tweeted that members had informed her of the same “heated exchange.”
Members tell me MTG and Matt Rosendale we’re getting in heated exchange at same time as Rogers/Gaetz
MTG was telling Rosendale she has Trump on her phone and he needed to talk to the former president right then
Rosendale shouted repeatedly, “don’t you ever do me like that!”
According to Caygle, Greene and Rosendale’s exchange coincided with another tense moment. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) was confronting Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after Gaetz voted present in the 14th round when suddenly Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) pulled back Rogers, grabbing him by the face. The incident came seconds after a conversation between McCarthy and Gaetz.
Rep. Hudson, R-N.C., left, pulls Rep. Rogers, R-Ala., as he confronts Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during the 14th round of voting for speaker as the House meets for the fourth day to try and elect a speaker in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (@AP Photo/@andyharnik) pic.twitter.com/ok3K8ERtfU
Ultimately the fever pitch settled, and the fifteenth ballot proved to be the charm as McCarthy secured the position in the early hours of Saturday. Several Republican representatives emphasized the importance of Trump’s role in bringing about a resolution to this speaker’s race, as Breitbart News reported.
After three rounds of voting on Tuesday, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed to secure the 218 needed to become speaker of the House. It was the first time in a century that the vote has gone to multiple ballots. Now, the “fight spills into a second chaotic day,” notes ABC News. There’s a lot of excitement in Washington.
Of course, somewhere in the vicinity of zero voters will change their worldview or political affiliation because the GOP is taking a few extra days to grind out their leadership vote. Nor is there anything particularly “dysfunctional” about disagreeing on the question. McCarthy isn’t an admiral or preordained by the Lord to be speaker, so this isn’t “mutiny,” it’s just a vote. Indeed, a battle over leadership shows a more democratic dynamic than the typical lockstepping on the matter. In most other democratic nations this kind of parliamentary fight would be considered tame and completely expected.
However the vote ends up, though, it won’t matter much because neither side in this battle has anything special or particularly consequential to offer.
“This is about saving the country and getting somebody that’s going to cut and get us on a financial path of solvency,” claims McCarthy supporter Ralph Norman. Guess what? Kevin McCarthy isn’t Henry Clay. He possesses no extraordinary skill or vision that makes him uniquely qualified to stop the Democrats’ next spending bill, much less “save” the country. The conceit and sanctimony of politicians who believe the world is in desperate need of their talents is endlessly insufferable. If you want to venerate middling House members, become a Democrat and throw your hosannas at Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans need competency more than anything else these days. The American people voted to split government power — again. The governing mandate of House Republicans is to check the executive branch. With a slim House majority, and the Senate and presidency in the hands of Democrats, the only requisite skill needed in a speaker is the ability to corral the party’s factions to stop the opposition. If you are unable to gain consensus during a partisan vote for leadership, how will you do it during your term?
“You can’t accommodate a small group that essentially has you hostage, and that’s what’s going on here — we’re not going to do it,” says McCarthy booster Don Bacon. Sure you can. This isn’t the papacy. Is there no other conservative in the House with some basic aptitude who can bring together the party? McCarthy can go back to being a plain-old congressman or head for the lobbying job, and the country would remain exactly as he found it. McCarthy is certainly as good as anyone else in Congress. But also, he is only as good as almost anyone else in Congress.
That said, what is the point? Not much that I can see. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert have no competing legislative agenda to offer, much less any coherent philosophical positions. McCarthy has gone out of his way to placate the nuts in his party. Why any sane person would want the job of dealing with Paul Gosar or Marjorie Taylor Greene is beyond my comprehension.
Others among the 20 holding up the coronation probably have some personal gripes against McCarthy — which is a completely legitimate reason to oppose electing him boss, by the way. Others are intent to fight the “establishment” for its own sake, which is a vacuous and nonsensical position. Someone is going to be in charge. McCarthy isn’t Fred Upton. And if you’re constantly opposing that person because you can’t do everything you want, you will get nothing. Though this seems to be a state in which many Republicans seem quite content.
It’s true that the two-party system creates stability by building left-right consensus before elections. But this particular fight, though largely senseless, is over the future of management, not about some big ideological schism.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) went off on some of her Republican colleagues on Tuesday as the contentious speakership vote is underway, telling reporters that some of her Freedom Caucus colleagues and “supposed friends” have been demanding positions for themselves and acting hypocritically.
“We have been negotiating, talking, debating back and forth in our conference, trying to come to a really good rules package,” she said, explaining that she witnessed a very different story in the conference meeting, where she discovered that “several members, three, in fact,” went “last night and were demanding positions for themselves, demanding gavel positions, demanding subcommittees, demanding for people to be taken off committees and people to be put on committees.”
“Three Republicans out of our 222,” she said, emphasizing that she has not acted in the same manner.
“The only thing I have done is debate and request and argue amongst my peers for the right things for the rules package and for our agenda for the American people, and that’s the only thing I’ve done,” she said, adding that she is the only Republican with no committees.
“So you would think I would be the one in there asking for some, but I haven’t done that. But I find out that it’s my Freedom Caucus colleagues and my supposed friends that went and did that and they asked nothing for me. Nothing. That’s what I found out in there,” she said, adding that she is “furious.”
Greene then laid into some of her colleagues, whom she made clear are not perfect.
“Scott Perry, before his general election, refused to vote against the bill that was all about the gay marriage bill. He didn’t, but he refused to vote against it. He voted for it. Then when it came back around after his election, he was able to vote against it. Conservatives would not like that,” she said.
“Let me remind every everyone this Matt Gates who has compared Kevin McCarthy to Paul Ryan — my friend Matt Gaetz — he supported Paul Ryan almost more than anyone,” she said. “It’s still on his social media.”
“As a matter of fact, his first vote in Congress was for Paul Ryan as Speaker and then he cheered him on for nearly a year and a half or more, when people like me were at home furious at Paul Ryan’s speakership because it wasn’t passing the MAGA agenda that we all supported,” she continued, also laying into Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) for refusing to object on January 6, as well as others for taking money from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to get elected yet opposing him in the speakership vote.
Greene said, blasting her Republican colleagues:
Many more people have taken Kevin McCarthy’s money to get elected and then there’s a few of them that don’t want to support him as speaker. So imagine that this is not anything about the country. This is all about Never Kevin. They just don’t like Kevin McCarthy and you cannot be successful in anything if you aren’t able to walk in a room, make what you want and get a deal done and then walk away with the W and get to work and not worry about who you like and who you don’t like.
“This is not about prom king, this is not about a pastor, this is about electing a person to sit in the speaker chair so that we can all get to work,” she continued, lambasting the Republicans refusing to hold the line.
“There’s not going to be a tiny little group that is going to demand their way because they want subcommittee chairs and they want certain power positions, that is not how this works, and that is the worst thing they could do for the country, and I’m furious over it,” she said, promising to continue calling them out.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said Monday he supports bringing Republican House business to a halt until as late as March next year if it means electing someone besides House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be speaker.
Gaetz, one of five outspoken opponents of McCarthy, told Charlie Kirk in an interview he would rather wait weeks and have “sort of a turbulent takeoff” than have McCarthy be speaker.
“I’m saying we could see the cherry blossoms bloom and not have a speaker. I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Gaetz said, in reference to the popular flower in D.C. that blooms annually around the end of March.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a vocal proponent of McCarthy’s bid for speaker, conveyed her disapproval of Gaetz’s remarks in a statement online, emphasizing a slate of investigations Republicans plan to begin at the start of next year and noting Americans would not “wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom.”
The Dems want the corrupt DOJ to prosecute Trump, the special counsel is weaponized, the FBI colluded w/ Twitter to silence Americans & Hunter’s laptop, the border is over run, and McCarthy is ready to take on these issues. The country won’t wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom. https://t.co/VhmCIbUE25
Republicans overwhelmingly nominated McCarthy to be speaker in November, but the full House must vote on McCarthy’s nomination as its first order of business when it convenes January 3. Republicans will have an ultra-slim majority, meaning McCarthy can only afford a few defectors before his speakership prospects are jeopardized.
Gaetz, along with Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Bob Good (R-VA), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Ralph Norman (R-NC), have openly opposed voting for McCarthy as speaker but have not proposed a surefire plan for an alternative candidate who could receive the necessary majority of votes. Gaetz in the interview suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), but Jordan is openly advocating for McCarthy to become speaker and laser-focused on chairing the House Judiciary Committee next year.
Should McCarthy not achieve a majority of votes on January 3, a number of scenarios could play out, including a doomsday scenario in which Democrats and a handful of Republicans unite to elect a centrist speaker who could weaken Republicans’ investigative pursuits. In another scenario, multiple ballots could occur before a speaker is elected, which Republicans have warned could significantly stall their work, including their ability to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and more.
If the chaos Gaetz is now publicly projecting comes to pass — a real possibility if McCarthy does not win — the House would be completely incapacitated, possibly for weeks or months.
Until the chamber elects a speaker, it cannot do any other business, so the House could be, under Gaetz’s vision, entirely held up for weeks conducting election after election for speaker. Republicans would not be able to use their new majority during that time to do anything, including pass any legislation or conduct any investigations. The fact Gaetz is openly promoting such chaos, too, is unlikely to win more allies to the rebellion he aims to champion — and may even turn some members against this strategy who were possibly open to backing it otherwise beforehand.
Former President Donald Trump told Breitbart News’s Matthew Boyle in an interview Friday that he supports McCarthy for speaker and that those opposing McCarthy were playing a “dangerous game” that could result in a “worse situation.”
Confronted by Kirk about disagreeing with Trump, Gaetz said, “Look, I love President Trump. I’m gonna vote for him in 2024. I’m gonna campaign hard for him. But HR was not always his best thing.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who has not committed to voting for McCarthy, spoke alongside Gaetz during Kirk’s interview Monday and said her nonnegotiable requirement before she would consider supporting McCarthy would be that he permit a “vacate the chair” motion, a rule McCarthy could grant that would allow Republicans to vote to oust a speaker mid-Congress.
Asked by Breitbart News on Sunday if Boebert, another fervent Trump supporter, disagreed with Trump about McCarthy, Boebert said, “I’m a proud support of President Trump. I have not committed my vote on January 3rd one way or another.”
Kirk also broached that Greene supported McCarthy, leading Boebert to take a shot at Greene.
“I’ve been aligned with Marjorie and accused of believing a lot of the things that she believes in. I don’t believe in this just like I don’t believe in Russian space lasers, Jewish space lasers,” Boebert said. “I’m just saying we need to actually have an inside conversation and make sure these promises are there.”
Greene, in response, hammered Boebert, noting that both she and McCarthy, two fundraising giants, had donated to Boebert’s reelection campaign in the midterms. Boebert ultimately just narrowly dodged what would have been a colossal upset and defeated her Democrat opponent by about 0.2 percent of the vote.
I’ve supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. President Trump has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. Kevin McCarthy has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. She just barely came through by 500 votes.
Greene added, “Lauren refuses to endorse President Trump, she refuses to support Kevin McCarthy, and she childishly threw me under the bus for a cheap sound bite.”
The country is facing extremely difficult times. Americans expect conservative fighters like us to work together to Save America and that is the only mission I’m 100% devoted to, not high school drama and media sound bites.
Several top conservatives are warning that if House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, the Republican nominee for Speaker of the House, does not win the speakership election on the floor of the House on Jan. 3, 2023, a “doomsday scenario” could emerge where Democrats undercut GOP power.
In such a scenario, concerns are rising that so-called moderate—or establishment Republicans—are willing to band together to make a deal with the Democrats to elect a moderate Republican as speaker with Democrat votes in exchange for a House rules change that hands the incoming Democrat minority significant power over how subpoenas can be issued.
Conservatives ranging from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to Congresswoman-elect Harriet Hageman–who defeated outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in the primary in Wyoming–are urging everyone to get behind McCarthy or risk this possible fate where Democrats seize back some power from the minority.
PATHWAY TO POWER
The way things play out from here is as follows: On Jan. 3, 2023, the new Congress will be sworn in and the old Congress will leave office. The first order of business in the new House of Representatives is that the chamber must elect a Speaker before conducting any other business. To win the Speakership, a candidate must receive a majority of votes from every voting member in the new Congress who is present and voting for a person. If every voting member is present and votes for a person—in other words, if no one is voting “present” or abstaining and if no voting members are absent—McCarthy would need 218 votes on the floor to win the speakership.
There are 435 voting members of the House. Delegates from places like the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam as well as the District of Columbia do not get votes in this election.
Republicans will formally nominate McCarthy on the floor, and Democrats will presumably formally nominate their new incoming House Democrat Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Jeffries is slated to take over as the top Democrat when outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps aside in the new Congress. Pelosi will remain a member of the House even though she is stepping aside from leadership.
Republicans had in conference earlier in November selected McCarthy as their official nominee for Speaker. He won 188 votes, and former House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)—who ran against him in conference—won 31 votes. McCarthy’s 188 votes is impressive and better than he has ever gotten before, and he had fewer defectors than his predecessor, former Speaker Paul Ryan, got in conference when he ran for Speaker the first time in 2015, but McCarthy is still 30 votes shy of the needed 218.
Technically speaking, any voting member can vote for any person they want—nominated or otherwise. In recent elections for Speakers, some members have voted for candidates who had not been nominated. A person does not need to be a current member of the House to be elected speaker, and some members have in recent years voted for people like then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) or Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to be Speaker of the House. Again, to win, a candidate—nominated or not—needs to win a majority
If anyone on either side, Democrat or Republican, is absent, abstains, or votes “present,” the number of votes that McCarthy would need to get drops from 218 to whatever the majority of those present and voting for a particular candidate is.
McCarthy has been facing criticism from some House conservatives like Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Bob Good (R-VA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT), who have all said in some form or another that they do not intend to vote for McCarthy. Given the slim majority that Republicans hold in the new Congress—they have won 222 seats—a group of five or more Republicans banding together to vote for someone other than McCarthy–assuming all other members are present and voting for a person–could deny him the majority he needs to win the gavel.
What happens next, if that happens, is what concerns several top conservatives even some who have been critical of McCarthy over the years. Technically speaking, again, the House cannot conduct any business until it elects a speaker. Therefore, denying McCarthy on the floor vote would throw the chamber into chaos until some person emerges with the ability to cobble together 218 votes or a majority of those present and voting for a person on a future ballot. The House will keep holding speakership elections until such time as it elects a speaker.
A THREAT LOOMS
It is in that chaos that conservatives worry Democrats may step up to back an establishment Republican alternative to McCarthy who, in exchange for Democrat votes on the floor of the House to get the majority needed to win the speakership, would agree to rule changes to weaken subpoenas coming from the new House GOP majority into Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration.
The incoming chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), has warned of this concern.
“I think it’s of the utmost importance that we agree on a Speaker,” Comer said on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel last weekend. “I believe it should be Kevin McCarthy. I believe it will be Kevin McCarthy in the end. But if we have four or five holdouts, that could potentially block Kevin McCarthy and that would allow the opportunity for some of the moderate Republicans to join with the Speaker [Nancy Pelosi]. That wouldn’t accomplish the goal of conservatives that are upset with Kevin McCarthy. We had a vote in conference. Andy Biggs challenged McCarthy. Andy Biggs is a good friend of mine. We came into Congress together. He’s a great member of the House Oversight Committee. But McCarthy prevailed. He prevailed four to one. We need to come together and elect Kevin McCarthy. Obviously, we’re never going to agree 100 percent of the time and we shouldn’t. We don’t need to be like the Democrats and have one leader and everyone follow that leader around like they did Nancy Pelosi. We’re going to have vibrant discussions and debates in our conference. But at the end of the day, we have to agree on the person our conference voted overwhelmingly for, Kevin McCarthy, and not allow the Democrats to kick their foot in the door with a weak, moderate-to-liberal Republican Speaker of the House, which could happen. I’m confident Kevin is going to be the next Speaker and I believe he is going to continue to give Jim Jordan and I the green light to do what we want to do with respect to holding this administration accountable.”
Congresswoman-elect Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, the conservative who defeated outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), also is warning of the possibility.
“The people of Wyoming sent me to Congress to stop the overreach of the Biden administration, and the people of the United States restored Republicans to the majority in the House,” Hageman told Breitbart News. “Under no circumstances should we engage in anything inside the GOP caucus that could result in returning power – in any way – back to the Democrats, the same people who drove the country into the mess we see today. I am supporting Kevin McCarthy for speaker, and I hope my colleagues will see how dangerous it would be to engage in brinksmanship that could allow Democrats a way back in.”
Other conservatives, like Mike Cernovich and Andy Surabian—a former Trump White House aide who serves as the top adviser to Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr.—have warned about this concern as well:
If it’s not Kevin McCarthy, who is it? Will be some “moderate Democrat.” Don’t get played. It’s McCarthy or else a Pelosi puppet,
The guy leading the charge on this whole thing is Andy Biggs. The same guy who just stabbed America First in the back & voted for Tom Emmer over Jim Banks for House GOP whip. Apparently, his True Conservative™️ “principles” only exist when he’s doing the bidding of Dems. https://t.co/E06kBxLO0Q
Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), one such establishment Republican who would be considered someone who would work with Democrats to cut such a deal, has publicly confirmed to NBC News that he is open to doing exactly this.
SCOOP: @RepMTG‘s worst fears could soon be coming true.
DON BACON (R-Neb.) tells @NBCNews he’s willing to work with DEMS to elect a moderate Speaker if 218 Republicans can’t agree on a candidate. @RepDonBacon
“The Don Bacon crowd are quietly cheering Matt Gaetz and Andy Biggs on,” a donor to Bacon told Breitbart News.
It is not just Bacon talking about this either. Former Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the GOP because of his disagreements with Trump, has openly floated what he would do as Speaker of the House if he got the job this way:
As speaker, I would: •Push for single-issue bills •Let committees work through bills without interference •Ensure rules are followed, not regularly suspended/waived/ignored •Allow amendments from the floor •Give members adequate time to review bills •Ask for recorded votes
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat who served alongside Amash in the House, praised the idea of Amash emerging as a compromise speaker as well:
A Speaker Amash would let the duly elected members of Congress do the work they were elected to do with real opportunities for members on both sides of the aisle to contribute to a better outcome that truly represents the sum of the best ideas from members of the people’s house. https://t.co/XcMH1qrUcO
Even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who usually joins anti-establishment battles like this one, is warning conservatives against joining this cause. “I actually think that’s a bad strategy when we’re looking at having a very razor-thin majority, with potentially 219 [seats], we’re talking about one vote,” she said in a recent appearance on War Room, warning of this exact doomsday scenario.
REBELS ADMIT THE CONCERN
Gaetz, in an interview with Breitbart News on the matter, admitted multiple times that this is a possible outcome of their effort—but the first time he admitted this, he blamed McCarthy, not himself or the others working against McCarthy, for such an outcome.
“If that were to happen, that would only happen by Kevin McCarthy’s hand,” Gaetz said when asked about the possibility of an establishment Republican emerging as Speaker with Democrat votes in exchange for a rules change neutralizing subpoenas. “The important thing for Kevin McCarthy to do now is to drop out of the race and move on to the next viable option. If he persists with a floor vote that he is certain he will not win, he’s bringing the Republican conference down with him.”
Later in the interview, Gaetz said of the idea that McCarthy will go to the floor and force a floor vote whereby this would be a possible outcome: “I reject the premise that that’s the stage we are going to get to.” What Gaetz is pushing for, he said, is for McCarthy to not even go to the floor vote.
“I believe as more and more members continue to express their opposition to Kevin McCarthy, he should come to the same conclusion he’’s come to before,” Gaetz said. “If Kevin McCarthy abandons his quest for the speakership because he doesn’t have the votes, it won’t even be the first time he’s done it.”
Even so, Gaetz admits it is possible—even though he does not believe this is how it will play out—that McCarthy goes to the floor vote, which opens the door to this scenario.
“We disagree on that, but I get that it’s a possibility,” Gaetz said.
But, he added later in the interview that he predicts it will not end up there.
“It’s not going to be what happens,” Gaetz said. “I have had enough conversations with enough Republicans who give me great confidence that Republicans will elect a Republican speaker with no Democrat votes… I’m not asking Democrats to vote for candidates I support. Kevin McCarthy promised that he wouldn’t either.”
While Gaetz admits this is a distinct possibility, he argues this doomsday scenario in his view is “a McCarthy-inspired bluff.”
Gaetz is the loudest of the anti-McCarthy voices, seconded probably only by Biggs. They have both made clear there is no circumstance under which they would vote for McCarthy.
“I wouldn’t vote for Kevin McCarthy if he was holding my favorite dog for ransom,” Gaetz told Breitbart News, adding: “I can’t imagine a scenario voting for Kevin McCarthy.”
Rosendale, one of the other possible anti-McCarthy votes, has said he would vote for McCarthy under “extreme circumstances”:
Just caught up with Rosendale about this tweet. Asked him whether there was *any* circumstance in which he would vote for McCarthy.
His response: “Only under extreme circumstances,” he said, tho declined to say what those are. https://t.co/PqZdgIhP9h
A former adviser to Mark Meadows, the one-time chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a former White House chief of staff, told Breitbart News that these anti-McCarthy rebels are not nearly as organized or focused as previous rebellions inside the GOP in recent years.
“This is just flat out embarrassing. Never would have happened when Mark [Meadows] was in charge,” the former Meadows adviser said. “They have no plan, no strategic skills and no ability to see danger on the horizon.”
If this brinksmanship gets to the stage of a floor vote where McCarthy challenges these rebels to defy him on the floor—a very likely pathway for events to unfold—what happens next is a very real concern for Republicans. Obviously, the above-explained “doomsday scenario” whereby Democrats step up to provide the votes necessary to an establishment Republican alternative in exchange for subpoena power is a real threat that even proponents of taking on McCarthy admit is possible.
But outside of that possibility, Gaetz argues there are several other possibilities—but does not have much of a firm plan beyond trying to deny McCarthy the votes.
“One scenario,” Gaetz said, “is next man up,” meaning incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise—currently the House GOP whip—moves up a spot into the role.
“I don’t know whether Steve Scalise would have five votes against him—that’s something for him to determine and for him to conclude at a time and manner of his choosing,” Gaetz said. “But that is one paradigm.”
A second scenario Gaetz argued could happen if McCarthy falls is the emergence of a different “consensus” candidate altogether.
“Another paradigm is a consensus Republican elected exclusively by Republicans, someone who has broad support around the conference but would be functionally a figurehead overseeing a coalition government that would include Tuesday Group members, Main Street Partnership members, Freedom Caucus members, America First members, and such a coalition is going to be necessary to govern anyway so why not get to the business of having that type of a small council direct the decisions of the Republican conference,” Gaetz said.
Then Gaetz threw out a third scenario, where he named former or soon-to-be-former members like specifically former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)—who just left the Democrat Party—or Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY).
“Scenario three is a former member,” Gaetz said. “You get somebody who is a little divorced from the push and pull of being a current member of the House. There is no requirement that the speaker be a member of the House. But we have former members like Tulsi Gabbard and soon-to-be Lee Zeldin who have broad respect across various groups within the Congress.”
Even though Gabbard has recently left the Democrat Party after she left office, it is highly unlikely that at least 218 House Republicans would band together to vote her in as a GOP speaker of the House. At least a dozen House Republicans laughed when Breitbart News asked them about this in the past week. As for Zeldin, he is widely respected but again unlikely to seek the job and sources close to him said he supports McCarthy unequivocally. Zeldin is currently exploring a bid for chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) after a closer-than-expected run for governor of New York that lifted several House Republicans in down-ticket races in the Empire State.
The three scenarios Gaetz threw out as other possibilities beyond the doomsday scenario raise serious questions as to what the anti-McCarthy forces like him intend to do if and when they succeed and if there is any kind of plan at all—or if this is just rebellion for the sake of rebellion.
A source close to the House Freedom Caucus told Breitbart News that the lack of planning and serious vision here is causing many members to have second thoughts about joining them.
“I’ve spoken with Matt [Gaetz],” the source close to the Freedom Caucus said. “I’ve spoken with Andy [Biggs]. I’ve spoken with Bob [Good]. They all acknowledge that there’s some risk that the Democrats reach a deal with our moderates to install Paul Ryan 2.0 or some other disaster. Bottom line is they’re putting their personal dislike for McCarthy above the need to avoid the doomsday scenario. This is pure insanity. Andy and Bob aren’t too bright so I give them a pass but I’m very disappointed in Matt. He knows better.”
What is more, one of the biggest cheerleaders of the effort to try to stop McCarthy is none other than the openly white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. Fuentes, of course, made national headlines over Thanksgiving weekend for having dined with former President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago last Tuesday.
In addition to the lack of a serious and well-thought-out plan, the fact that one of the biggest supporters outside Congress of this effort is none other than Fuentes—who, as Breitbart News has detailed, is an actual white nationalist and Holocaust denier—is not likely to win more supporters to this cause.
Fuentes, on his Telegram page, has repeatedly hyped the effort. He pushed a tweet from Gaetz bashing McCarthy and promoting this exact push saying “let’s go.” He also attacked Trump for endorsing McCarthy and Greene for backing him as well, saying Trump and Greene are “being used as bait to lure the base” into backing among others McCarthy.
He also says in that post that he is no longer a MAGA supporter: “I didn’t leave the MAGA movement… the MAGA movement left me.”
Fuentes’s dinner with Trump and Kanye West last week seriously hurt Trump, and his emerging as a face of the effort against McCarthy could help derail it.
HISTORY FAVORS MCCARTHY
Throughout history, only a handful of speaker votes have gone to subsequent ballots. For instance, in 1855, Congress could not agree on a speaker for two months—and held 133 elections between Dec. 3, 1855, and Feb. 2, 1856, until finally electing a Speaker after the House finally whittled down the choices from 21 different candidates at the outset of that Congress.
Since then, the last time a speakership vote went through multiple ballots was nearly a century ago on Dec. 4, 1923, when the speakership election went through multiple ballots before then-Speaker Frederick Gillett was finally reelected.
Oftentimes, however, in the lead-up to a speakership vote especially in a tight margin in Congress, there is much chatter like this, but things usually work out for the nominee of the majority party in the end.
While no vote has gone multiple ballots since a century ago—again, at no time during the modern era where such proceedings are televised for the American public to see them happening live has this happened—a decade ago it nearly did happen again. Back in late 2012, as Breitbart News reported at the time, a group of conservatives banded together to try to use this exact strategy against then-Speaker John Boehner in early 2013. While they failed on the floor, it weakened Boehner heading into then-President Barack Obama’s second term. That made way for another attempt against Boehner on the floor of the House in January 2015 at the beginning of the next Congress and finally to Boehner’s ouster in the fall of 2015 using an arcane rule written into the rules of the House by the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson himself. Boehner ended up resigning to avoid a vote he knew he would lose if it were called.
Technically speaking, Boehner was about to go down in January of 2015 though—the second rebellion—when conservatives had denied him 218 votes. But he ended up winning the speakership with 216 votes because a number of lawmakers were absent due to snowy weather conditions around the country and because several Democrats were at the funeral of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Pelosi would later win the speakership, last year, with just 216 votes as well.
Even so, in each of these cases, the majority party nominee for speaker ended up winning on the floor—even it was sometimes closer than they would have hoped.
It remains to be seen how this one shakes out, but McCarthy has a lot of time—more than five weeks until the vote—and a lot of room to bargain with holdouts.
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