Kevin McCarthy is facing mounting pressure to end the deadlock over his jeopardized bid for president after two straight days of failed votes. But even after offering major concessions to his hardline opponents on Wednesday night, it’s still unclear if the California Republican will be able to secure the support he needs to win the hammer, and patience is running out among supporters. lawmakers as the fight drags on.
There are, however, some early indications that negotiations have made progress as McCarthy and his allies try to whittle down opposition from a conservative bloc.
In a series of new concessions first reported by CNN on Wednesday night, McCarthy agreed to propose a rule change that would allow a single member to request a vote to oust a sitting president, according to two sources familiar with the matter. McCarthy originally proposed a five-member threshold, down from current conference rules that require half the GOP to call for such a vote.
He also agreed to allow more members of the Freedom Caucus to sit on the powerful House Rules Committee, which dictates how and if bills are introduced, and to vote on a handful of priority bills for holdouts. , including proposed term limits on members and a border security plan.
Republican sources say even if McCarthy’s bids are accepted, it still won’t net him the 218 votes he needs to be president. While these concessions could attract new support, other opponents have raised different concerns that have yet to be fully addressed.
McCarthy said Wednesday evening that there was no agreement yet to end the standoff, but there had been progress. “I think it’s probably best for people to work a little harder,” McCarthy said after the House adjourned.
The House is due to reconvene Thursday at 12 p.m. ET.
McCarthy has already made a number of concessions to his opponents, although so far his efforts have not been enough.
But sources said Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy allies and holdouts were the most productive and serious yet. And in a sign of a breakthrough, a McCarthy-aligned super PAC agreed not to play in open Republican primaries in safe seats – one of the big demands conservatives had asked for but McCarthy had resisted so far. .
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, one of the conservatives who voted against McCarthy’s bid for president, told GOP leaders he thought he could get 10 holdouts if the ongoing negotiations were successful, according to sources in the GOPs are familiar with internal discussions, and that there are other critics who might be willing to vote “in attendance.”
Yet even if those negotiations prove successful and 10 lawmakers turn to McCarthy’s column — which is far from certain — it won’t get McCarthy to the 218 votes needed to win the presidency, so he would still have work to do.
McCarthy also met separately on Wednesday with elected freshman members who voted against him, sources told CNN.
During the meeting, McCarthy reiterated some of the things he has already promised and went into more detail about those concessions.
McCathy’s direct outreach to elected freshmen provides another window into his strategy for winning over holdouts.
The new House Majority Whip, Tom Emmer, said the negotiations had been “very, very constructive”.
“There was a whole bunch of members that were involved in this, and there are people who are now sitting down and talking about this discussion to see where they want to go next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
The fight for the presidency, which began on the first day of the 118th Congress on Tuesday, has thrown the new GOP majority into chaos and undermined the party’s agenda.
As the fight escalates, the situation has become increasingly dire for McCarthy’s political future, as even some of his Republican allies have begun to fear the House GOP leader may not be in line. able to win his bet for the president if the fight lasts much longer. .
So far, McCarthy has failed in six ballots. The final GOP tally for the sixth vote, which took place on Wednesday, was 201 for McCarthy, 20 for Florida Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida and one “present” vote.
The House will remain paralyzed until this impasse is resolved. It is the first time that an election for the presidency has taken place in several ballots since 1923.
To be elected president, a candidate must obtain a majority of the members who vote for a specific person on the House floor. This equals 218 votes if no member skips the vote or votes “present”.
House Republicans won 222 seats in the new Congress, so for McCarthy to reach 218, he can only afford to lose four GOP votes.