“A short window is all we need in the House to reinstate Kevin McCarthy and change the rule,” Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) told POLITICO.
Duarte also said he believed the Biden administration’s positions and “our dismay in the House” were determining factors in the timing of the attacks.
“The attacks on Israel have moderates fighting for the one person who can truly unite us: Kevin McCarthy,” according to a third Republican House lawmaker.
McCarthy is “aware and grateful” of the growing efforts to reinstate him, but he is not committing at this point, the lawmaker added.
The attempt to reinstall McCarthy encountered great difficulties. Two strong candidates are actively campaigning just days before the vote, and several dozen Republicans have already lent their support. There is little reason to think that the basic calculations for McCarthy have changed since last Tuesday.
The Republicans behind the initiative, however, say the urgency of responding to terrorist attacks and helping Israel could put pressure on the eight House Republicans who voted against McCarthy earlier this week to change their position. position. The third-ranking Republican House member said the members behind the campaign are still furious at Republicans who voted against McCarthy, a staunch supporter of Israel, and are “taking advantage of this moment to show how wrong they were.”
McCarthy took an active role in the House Republican Party’s response to Saturday’s attacks, denouncing the Biden administration’s actions and noting that the House is currently unable to propose major legislation without a speaker.
“The House can’t do anything until it elects a speaker, and I don’t know how quickly that will happen,” McCarthy told Fox News.
Lawmakers are also considering defining clearer powers for interim President Patrick McHenry in the short term or possibly by directly electing him president.
The House could take other steps to get around McHenry’s limited role, including appointing him speaker pro tempore, losing his acting title to give him more authority while Republicans figure out who they want to lead them. If McHenry attempts to act, on Israeli legislation or any other, without broader authority from the House, he risks being challenged on the floor and voted to overturn his actions.
The push for McCarthy or McHenry is a more palatable option for many vulnerable Republicans, especially those in Biden districts, who are not closely aligned with any of the current candidates. Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
A major complicating factor is that Democrats and Republicans in the House have made clear that they interpret McHenry’s role in its narrowest form, which at this point would prevent him from introducing legislation before the election of a president.
There is no precedent for the extent to which McHenry can wield his powers in the House, and that has prompted some Republicans to explore other avenues to pass legislation aimed at strengthening Israel in the next few days. weeks to come.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) said Saturday she would introduce a bill to supplement funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and urged Republicans and Democrats to “submit this bill quickly.” .
“Our disunity on Capitol Hill weakens America’s position as a world leader and hinders our ability to respond to the atrocities committed by Hamas against the Israeli people,” Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.) said Saturday. “We must end these political games and show leadership during this international emergency. »
But as we saw in January, this is not a quick process. House Republicans are expected to hold a candidate forum on Tuesday and hold internal elections behind closed doors and by secret ballot on Wednesday. With neither candidate close to the 218 votes needed to take the gavel, it is not yet clear when they will be able to take the floor for a final vote.
Other House Republicans have called on McHenry and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (RY) to move forward with the speaker election that is expected to begin next Wednesday.
“We need to have a forum on Sunday or Monday,” Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) said Saturday.
“We are paralyzed as a body,” Alford added. “World events dictate urgency. »