Kevin McCarthy Becomes First Speaker Ever to Be Ousted From the Job in a House vote

WASHINGTON — Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job Tuesday in an extraordinary showdown — a first in U.S. history, forced by a contingent of hard-right conservatives and throwing the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.

It’s nearing the end of the political line for McCarthy, who has said repeatedly that he never gives up, but now has almost no options remaining. Neither the right-flank Republicans who engineered his ouster nor the Democrats who piled on seem open to negotiating.

McCarthy told lawmakers Tuesday evening he would not run again for speaker, putting the gavel up for grabs. Next steps are highly uncertain as there is no obvious successor to lead the House Republican majority.

McCarthy’s chief rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, orchestrated the rare vote on the obscure “motion to vacate,” and pushed ahead swiftly into a dramatic afternoon roll call.

While McCarthy enjoyed support from most Republicans in his slim majority, eight Republican detractors — many of the same hard-right holdouts who tried to stop him from becoming speaker in January — essentially forced him out.

Stillness fell as the presiding officer gaveled the vote closed, 216-210, saying the office of the speaker “is hereby declared vacant.”

Moments later, a top McCarthy ally, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., took the gavel and, according to House rules, was named speaker pro tempore, to serve in the office until a new speaker is chosen.

The House then briskly recessed as lawmakers prepared to meet privately and discuss the path forward.

It was a stunning moment for McCarthy, a punishment fueled by growing grievances but sparked by his weekend decision to work with Democrats to keep the federal government open rather than risk a shutdown.

But in many ways, McCarthy’s ouster was set in motion when, in deal-making with hard-right holdouts at the start of the year, he agreed to a series of demands — including a rules change that allowed any single lawmaker to file the motion to vacate.

As the House fell silent, Gaetz, a top ally of Donald Trump, rose to offer his motion.

Leaders tried to turn it back, but the vote was 218-208, with 11 Republicans against tabling the motion, a sign of trouble to come.

The House then opened a floor debate, unseen in modern times, and Republicans argued publicly among themselves for more than an hour.

“It’s a sad day,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said as debate got underway, urging his colleagues not to plunge the House Republican majority “into chaos.”

But Gaetz shot back during the debate, “Chaos is Speaker McCarthy.”

As the fiery debate dragged on, many of the complaints against the speaker revolved around his truthfulness and his ability to keep the promises he has made.

Almost alone, Gaetz led his side of the floor debate, criticizing the debt deal McCarthy made with President Joe Biden and the vote to prevent a government shutdown, which conservatives opposed as they demanded steeper spending cuts.

But a long line of McCarthy supporters stood up for him, including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who said, “I think he has kept his word.” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., waved his cellphone, saying it was “disgusting” that hard-right colleagues were fundraising off the move in text messages seeking donations.

McCarthy, of California, insisted he would not cut a deal with Democrats to remain in power — not that he could have relied on their help even if he had asked.

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues that he wants to work with Republicans, but he was unwilling to provide the votes needed to save McCarthy.

“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries said, announcing the Democratic leadership would vote for the motion to oust the speaker.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden “hopes the House will quickly elect a Speaker.” Once that happens, she said, “he looks forward to working together with them.”

At the Capitol, both Republicans and Democrats met privately ahead of the historic afternoon vote.

Behind closed doors, McCarthy told fellow Republicans: Let’s get on with it.

McCarthy invoked Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon, who more than 100 years ago confronted his critics head-on by calling their bluff and setting the vote himself on his ouster. Cannon survived that takedown attempt, which was the first time the House had actually voted to consider removing its speaker. A more recent threat, in 2015, didn’t make it to a vote.

Gaetz was in attendance, but he did not address the room.

Across the way in the Capitol, Democrats lined up for a long discussion and unified around one common point: McCarthy cannot be trusted, several lawmakers in the room said.

“I think it’s safe to say there’s not a lot of good will in that room for Kevin McCarthy,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.

“At the end of the day, the country needs a speaker that can be relied upon,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “We don’t trust him. Their members don’t trust him. And you need a certain degree of trust to be the speaker.”

Removing the speaker launches the House Republicans into chaos. Typically, top leaders would be next in line for the job, but Majority Leader Steve Scalise is battling cancer and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, like any potential candidate, may have trouble securing the vote.

It took McCarthy himself 15 rounds in January over multiple days of voting before he secured the support from his colleagues to gain the gavel, and it’s uncertain now if he will try again — or call it quits.

Trump, the former president who is the Republican front-runner in the 2024 race to challenge Biden, complained about the chaos. “Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves,” he asked on social media.

Asked about McCarthy’s ouster as he exited court in New York, where he is on trial for business fraud, Trump did not respond.

One key McCarthy ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who is also close with Trump, took to social media urging support for “our speaker.”

Republicans left the chamber in a daze, totally uncertain about next steps. “I honestly don’t know,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. “This is a total disaster.”

Many had lined up to hug McCarthy, some to shake his hand.

Democrats, who have bristled at McCarthy’s leadership — cajoling them one minute, walking away from deals the next — said they were just holding back, waiting for Republicans to figure out how to run the House.

Rep, Don Bacon, R-Neb., the leader of a centrist group, said the only option was to leave the eight hardliners behind and try to work across the aisle. “We’re going to stay with Kevin,” he said. “He told us earlier he’ll never quit.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

New California Assembly Speaker Pledges to Tackle the State’s Biggest Issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Assemblymember Robert Rivas was sworn in Friday as the next speaker of California’s state Assembly, becoming the first lawmaker from a rural district to hold the powerful office in the state’s modern history.

Rivas, a 43-year-old Democrat representing the agricultural Central Coast area, replaces former Speaker Anthony Rendon after a monthslong power struggle last year. Rendon, the second-longest serving speaker in state history, terms out at the end of 2024 after serving as the California lower house’s leader the last seven years.

Rivas, who had a quick rise to power, pledged to lead with “urgency and unity.” At his inaugural ceremony in the Capitol, he said his priorities are to tackle the state’s housing and homelessness crisis, improve public services and infrastructure and combat climate change. Democrats hold more than three-quarters of the Assembly’s 80 seats.

“California is still the greatest state in the union,” Rivas said Friday. “But if we in this room do not act and do not act with greater urgency, it will get more and more difficult to build a good life here. I feel, and I know that you all do, too, a great sense of responsibility because we are the ones who can keep the door open for the next generation.”

His inaugural ceremony drew a wide-ranging crowd of political bigwigs, from U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Zoe Lofgren to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Labor Federation Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.

Republican Assembly Leader James Gallagher said he appreciates Rivas’ background and understanding of agricultural issues.

“His words today about unity and respecting everybody’s differing viewpoints give me hope that we can work together to restore the California dream,” he said.

At the ceremony Friday, Rivas honored his 90-year-old grandmother, his mother, civil rights icon Dolores Huerta and nearly two dozen farmworkers from his district, saying they were his inspiration to become a lawmaker. Rivas’ extended family, along with dozens of family friends from his hometown, Hollister, were also in attendance Friday, teeming with pride and emotion.

The second-term lawmaker was largely unknown until he successfully mounted a leadership challenge to Rendon last November. Rendon, who is still unhappy about how things unfolded, refused to step down when Rivas first made a play for the top leadership post earlier last year. The intraparty fighting dragged on for six months until Rivas and his allies forced a vote among Assembly Democrats, who chose him as the next leader.

Inspired by his grandfather, a Mexican immigrant who organized for fellow farmworkers alongside Huerta with United Farm Workers, Rivas has spent his political career championing farmworker protections. In 2019, as a freshman lawmaker, Rivas successfully led a landmark bill to streamline farmworker housing permits.

That helped propel him to be appointed to chair the Assembly Agriculture Committee, overseeing the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry. As chair, Rivas embarked on a statewide agricultural tour, an effort that committee members continue to praise.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

McCarthy Elected House speaker in Rowdy Post-Midnight Vote

WASHINGTON —  

Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on a historic post-midnight 15th ballot early Saturday, overcoming holdouts from his own ranks and floor tensions that boiled over after a chaotic week that tested the new GOP majority’s ability to govern.

“My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” McCarthy told cheering fellow Republicans.

Eager to confront President Joe Biden and the Democrats, he promised subpoenas and investigations. “Now the hard work begins,” the California Republican declared. He credited former President Donald Trump for standing with him and for making late calls “helping get those final votes.”

Republicans roared in celebration when his victory was announced, chanting “USA! USA!”

Finally elected, McCarthy took the oath of office, and the House was finally able to swear in newly elected lawmakers who had been waiting all week for the chamber to formally open and the 2023-24 session to begin.

After four days of grueling ballots, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus.

He fell one vote short on the 14th ballot, and the chamber became raucous, unruly.

McCarthy strode to the back of the chamber to confront Republican Matt Gaetz, sitting with Lauren Boebert and other holdouts. Fingers were pointed, words exchanged and violence apparently just averted.

At one point, Republican Mike Rogers of Alabama, shouting, approached Gaetz before another Republican, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, physically pulled him back.

“Stay civil!” someone shouted.

Order restored, the Republicans fell in line to give McCarthy the post he had fought so hard to gain, House speaker, second in the line of succession to the presidency.

The few remaining Republican holdouts began voting present, dropping the tally he needed. It was the end of a bitter standoff that had shown the strengths and fragility of American democracy.

The tally was 216-212 with Democrats voting for leader Hakeem Jeffries, and six Republican holdouts to McCarthy simply voting present.

The night’s stunning turn of events came after McCarthy agreed to many of the detractors’ demands — including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.

Even as McCarthy secured the votes he needs, he will emerge as a weakened speaker, having given away some powers and constantly under the threat of being booted by his detractors.

But he could also be emboldened as a survivor of one of the more brutal fights for the gavel in U.S. history. Not since the Civil War era has a speaker’s vote dragged through so many rounds of voting.

The showdown that has stymied the new Congress came against the backdrop of the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which shook the country when a mob of Trump’s supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican’s 2020 election defeat to Biden.

At a Capitol event Friday, some lawmakers, all but one of them Democrats, observed a moment of silence and praised officers who helped protect Congress on that day. And at the White House, Biden handed out medals to officers and others who fought the attackers.

“America is a land of laws, not chaos,” he said.

At the afternoon speaker’s vote, a number of Republicans tiring of the spectacle temporarily walked out when one of McCarthy’s most ardent challengers, Gaetz, railed against the GOP leader.

Contours of a deal with conservative holdouts who had been blocking McCarthy’s rise had emerged the night before, and took hold after four dismal days and 14 failed votes in an intraparty standoff unseen in modern times.

One significant former holdout — Republican Scott Perry, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who had been a leader of Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election — tweeted after his switched vote for McCarthy, “We’re at a turning point.”

Trump may have played a role in swaying some holdouts — calling into a meeting of Republican freshmen the night before, and calling other members ahead of voting. He had urged Republicans to wrap up their public dispute.

As Republican Mike Garcia of California nominated McCarthy on an earlier ballot Friday, he also thanked the U.S. Capitol Police, who were given a standing ovation for protecting lawmakers and the legislative seat of democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.

But in nominating the Democratic leader Jeffries, Democrat Jim Clyburn of South Carolina recalled the horror of that day. “The eyes of the country are on us today,” he told his colleagues.

Electing a speaker is normally an easy, joyous task for a party that has just won majority control. But not this time: About 200 Republicans were stymied by 20 far-right colleagues who said McCarthy was not conservative enough. Only the 12th ballot on Friday afternoon did McCarthy start making gains, flipping their votes to support.

The House adjourned Friday until late in the night, giving time for last-minute negotiations and allowing two absent Republican colleagues to return to Washington.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, much the way that some past Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right flank. The result: government shutdowns, standoffs and Boehner’s early retirement when conservatives threatened to oust him.

The agreement McCarthy presented to the holdouts from the Freedom Caucus and others centers around rules changes they have been seeking for months. Those changes would shrink the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence in drafting and passing legislation.

At the core of the emerging deal was the reinstatement of a House rule that would allow a single lawmaker to make a motion to “vacate the chair,” essentially calling a vote to oust the speaker. McCarthy had resisted allowing a return to the longstanding rule that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had done away with, because it had been held over the head of Boehner. But it appears McCarthy had no other choice.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

US House Has No Members, No Rules As Speaker Race Drags On

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Republicans continue to squabble over who will be the next speaker, there are essentially no members in the U.S. House of Representatives — only members-elect.

Without a speaker, none of the them can be sworn in, and the 118th Congress can’t convene or vote on any rules. Parliamentary procedure has been jettisoned in favor of controlled chaos. Members of both parties are unsure whether they can call votes or make motions on the floor because there is no speaker to rule on their requests. Committees can’t be formed and legislation can’t be passed.

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“I don’t know what my status is,” said Democrat Ted Lieu of California. “I don’t know if I have health care, I don’t know if my staff get paid. We’re looking at all of that now because this hasn’t happened for 100 years.”

Former Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, who just retired, has been tweeting about what he calls “Bizaroland.” At one point he openly wondered in his Twitter bio whether he was still a congressman (he isn’t).

The rule-less, member-less House may only be a blip in history if Republicans are able to find a way forward this week and elect a new speaker. While that remains a strong possibility, a resolution to the standoff seemed distant on Wednesday, as Republican Kevin McCarthy of California lost a second day of roll call votes on the floor. Supporters and opponents all appeared dug in.

The uncertainty added to the surreal, looser-than usual atmosphere on the House floor Wednesday as members sat in their seats for vote after vote, hour after hour, negotiating, gossiping and wondering what comes next. Some relaxed with books or newspapers, or scrolled their phones. Some took photos and selfies, a practice that is usually forbidden by the rules.

Others still had children with them in the chamber, a holdover from Tuesday’s proceedings when family often accompany members to watch them be sworn in. Only they weren’t sworn in on the first day of the new Congress — the first time that had happened in a century.

In 1923, the process of selecting a speaker lasted for three days. In 1855, it dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots.

“It’s a very strange limbo,” said Democrat Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, who had hoped her visiting grandchildren would get to see her sworn in on Tuesday. “We are operating by precedent.”

On the House floor, clerk Cheryl Johnson is holding the gavel, not the Republican majority.

“Madam speaker,” Republican Chip Roy of Texas said at one point, addressing the rostrum as members usually do, before correcting himself. “Madam clerk,” he amended.

Off the floor, members are operating under the rules for the last Congress — they think. No one really seems to know, and there are concerns about what would happen if the stalemate were to last until mid-January, when paychecks are expected. Some staff are in limbo — only provisionally employed if they are new hires or switching jobs.

Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, said that members-elect were operating under the rules of the previous Congress, when Democrats were in control. But he added: “I don’t know if that’s written down.”

Without a speaker, “there’s a lot we can’t do,” Cole said. Staff and members will be paid, he said, “but at some point it shuts off.”

As the hours ticked by, members started to ponder what-if scenarios. Lieu said he worried that lawmakers aren’t able to look at classified documents important to national security, and wouldn’t be able to respond to a world crisis. Could websites be updated? Would emails continue to work?

“Who can legally help any and all of our citizens with issues we normally handle everyday?” tweeted Long, the former Missouri congressman. “Passports, IRS, #Veteran’s issues, SBA, Post Office, Immigration issues, Corps of Engineers, etc. who’s getting paid?”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Why Are Some Republicans Revolting Against Kevin McCarthy’s Bid To Be Speaker of the House?

The insurgent Republicans want to balance the budget, impose new barriers to immigration, and increase transparency for future earmark spending.

For the first time in 100 years, no one was elected speaker of the House on the first ballot when the new session of Congress opened on Tuesday—thanks to a breakaway faction of Republicans who denied Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R–Calif.) bid to return to the top post in the House of Representatives.

McCarthy finished second to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.) in the first round of voting, but neither candidate reached the magic number of 218 needed to win a majority. Rep. Andy Biggs (R–Ariz.) received 10 votes on the first ballot, while Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) picked up six votes and three other lawmakers got one vote each. In all, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy, who can afford to lose just four votes and maintain a majority of the closely divided chamber.

In a second round of balloting, Jeffries got 212 votes while McCarthy received 203, and Jordan consolidated the 19 Republican votes against McCarthy.

But why, you might be wondering, would a group of Republicans trigger this sort of chaos?

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Scott Perry (R–Penn.), one of the renegade Republicans, laid out the answer to that question in a lengthy statement posted to his Twitter account. Perry said that the group of Republicans opposed to McCarthy was seeking “firm commitments” from McCarthy on four “concrete policies” they wished to bring to a vote.

Those policies, according to Perry: A balanced budget, passage of the Fair Tax Act (which would replace the federal income, payroll, and estate taxes with a national sales tax), passage of a proposal crafted by Texas Republicans that aims to crack down on illegal immigration, and the imposition of term limits for members of Congress.

Additionally, Perry said that McCarthy was asked to support two changes to how the House operates. First, to require a two-thirds vote to approve earmarks, which would have to be voted on individually. Second, to allow amendments that would cut spending to be introduced on the House floor to any legislation.

As a set of proposals, it’s a bit of a mixed bag—though the immigration element would be a massively expensive attempt to limit the free movement of people. It’s also a bit crazy that lawmakers have to resort to once-in-a-century tactics just to get congressional leaders to consider balancing the budget.

But it is certainly not a radical or wildly irresponsible list of demands. More transparency and accountability on earmarks—something that hasn’t really materialized despite the promises of those who pushed to end the earmark ban—would certainly be welcome. Floor amendments to legislation would be a step toward restoring the so-called “regular order” of moving legislation through Congress, another welcome and overdue reform.

In that same Tuesday morning statement, Perry said McCarthy effectively forfeited his chance to be speaker by refusing to go along with those requests. Later on Tuesday, Perry and his fellow breakaway Republicans followed through with that threat.

What happens now? It’s unclear. There will be a third vote in the House, and perhaps many more. In 1855, it took 133 ballots before a stalemate for speaker of the House was broken.

“We are going to continue to vote until Kevin’s the next speaker,” Rep. Dave Joyce (R–Ohio), a McCarthy supporter, told CNN after the second round of balloting on Tuesday.

It might look chaotic and weird, but actually, this is just fine. It’s democracy. For the moment, and maybe longer, think of the House of Representatives as functioning more like a multi-party democracy than the two-party duopoly that we’re used to seeing.

In multiparty systems, two or more parties have to come together and form a coalition in order to achieve a governing majority. That requires some horse-trading and usually involves drawing up a semiformal document outlining what policies the coalition will work together to craft (and sometimes, equally importantly, which policies will be off-the-table).

For the purposes of the speaker election, Perry and his fellow renegade Republicans are operating like a minority party in a multiparty system: offering their support in exchange for getting to put a hand on the steering wheel of the future coalition government. If McCarthy doesn’t want to make a deal with them, he might have to seek a coalition government with a centrist faction of Democrats. Failing that, Republicans might try to find someone else within their ranks who can get the requisite 218 votes from the chamber.

Click here to read the full article at Reason.com

Kevin McCarthy Wins GOP Nomination for House Speaker Amid Party Factions

 Republican leader Kevin McCarthy won the nomination Tuesday for House speaker, clearing a first step with majority support from his colleagues, but he now faces a weeks-long slog to quell right-flank objections before a final vote in the new year.

McCarthy has led House Republicans this far, and with the party now on the cusp of majority control, he has a chance to seize the gavel from Nancy Pelosi if Democrats are defeated.

The GOP leader won a 188-31 vote, with ballots cast by new and returning lawmakers, but the challenges ahead are clear. McCarthy will need to grind out support from no fewer than 218 lawmakers from his slim ranks when the new Congress convenes in January, leaving just a few votes to spare.

“We’re going to have the ability to change America,” McCarthy said, upbeat as he entered the private meeting.

He noted backing from right-flank Republicans Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio as part of his “vast support.”

But Republican leaders are facing an intense backlash on Capitol Hill over their disappointing performance in the midterm elections, when McCarthy’s promises of a GOP sweep that would transform Washington collapsed. Instead, the House could have one of the slimmest majorities in 90 years, leaving McCarthy exposed to challengers.

The fallout is spilling down-ballot into other Republican leadership races and into the Senate, where Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will face a challenge from GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the party’s campaign chairman, in Wednesday’s elections. Scott announced his bid at a party lunch Tuesday.

The former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, announced he was challenging McCarthy, saying Americans want a “new direction.”

“The promised red wave turned into a loss of the United States Senate, a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, and upset losses of premiere political candidates,” Biggs said in a statement. “McCarthy does not have the votes needed to become the next Speaker of the House and his speakership should not be a foregone conclusion.”

Many in the Republican Party are blaming their losses on Donald Trump, the former president who endorsed hundreds of candidates, many of them far-right contenders rejected by voters. Trump is expected to announce his 2024 bid for the White House from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Tuesday evening.

It’s not just McCarthy whose leadership is in question but his entire team. This includes Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the campaign chairman who traditionally would be rewarded with a leadership spot but finds himself in a three-way race for GOP whip that was forced into a second-round of voting.

The No. 2 Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, had an easier time, winning the majority leader spot uncontested, by voice vote. He pledged that House Republicans, if they win the majority, will launch “oversight necessary to hold the Biden Administration accountable.”

And one of Trump’s top allies in the House, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York — the third-ranking House Republican and the first lawmaker to back Trump in a 2024 run — is working to fend off rival Rep. Byron Donalds, a Black Republican from Florida seen by many lawmakers as a potential new party leader.

A self-described “Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment Black man,” Donalds said after a closed-door forum late Monday he has enough support for the race with Stefanik to be close.

Trump backs McCarthy for speaker, but the two have had a rocky relationship, and even Trump’s support is no guarantee McCarthy will reach the needed 218 votes when the new Congress convenes, particularly if Republicans win the House with just a slim, few-seat majority that would leave him no cushion for detractors.

At least one Trump ally, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, said he’s voting no on McCarthy.

It’s a familiar dynamic for House Republicans, one that befell their most recent Republican speakers — John Boehner and Paul Ryan — who both retired early rather than try to lead a party splintered by its far-right flank.

McCarthy survived those earlier battles between party factions, but he was forced to back out of a bid for the speaker’s job in 2015 when it was clear he did not have support from conservatives.

The weeks ahead promise to be a grueling period of hardball negotiations with the Freedom Caucus and rank-and-file Republicans as McCarthy tries to appease them and rack up the support he will need in the new year.

In a sign of how desperate Republicans are to bolster their ranks, some made overtures to conservative Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas to switch parties and join the GOP.

“They just said, ’name your price,″” Cuellar told reporters. “I’m a Democrat.”

The conservative Freedom Caucus lawmakers, who typically align with Trump, are prepared to extract demanding concessions from McCarthy before giving him their backing. They have a long list of asks — from prime positions on House committees to guarantees they can have a role in shaping legislation.

“I’m willing to support anybody that’s willing to change dramatically how things are done here,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a Trump ally, said after meeting privately with McCarthy.

But even rank-and-file lawmakers are assessing their choices for speaker, a position that is second in line to the president.

“I don’t just automatically assume heir apparent, necessarily,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., who said he is still studying his choice for House speaker.

“We are voting for somebody who is going to be two heartbeats from the presidency,” he said.

Click here to read the full article at FoxNewsLA

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