Members of the Republican Governance Group, a more centrist caucus within the House GOP, are urging their colleagues to support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Speaker as he faces opponents that threaten his path to securing the gavel.
“The American people handed us the gavel, but they did so skeptically. If we do not immediately put posturing aside and focus on responsible governance, we will have failed to fulfill the great responsibility they have bestowed upon us before the 118th Congress begins,” the letter from the members of the Republican Governance Group, formerly known as the Tuesday Group, read.
“Governing is fundamentally a team sport. It comes down to a simple choice: do you want to make a point or a difference?” the letter said.
Five hard-line, confrontational conservative House Republicans have explicitly said or strongly indicated that they will not support McCarthy for Speaker on the House floor on Jan. 3, even though the House GOP Conference nominated him to be Speaker last month: Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former chair of the House Freedom Caucus who mounted a long-shot bid for the Speakership nomination; Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.); Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.); Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.); and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).
With Republicans about to enter the 118th Congress with just a slim majority — around 222 Republicans to 212 Democrats — those five defectors could potentially sink his bid. Many others have not revealed whether they will support McCarthy on Jan. 3.
McCarthy needs support from a majority of House members voting for a specific Speaker candidate on Jan. 3. If all vote for a candidate, that threshold is 218, but vacancies, absences, and “present” votes can lower that threshold. All five opponents, though, indicate they will not “present.”
“This Conference cannot handcuff itself to a burning building before we gavel in the 118th Congress,” Republican Governance Group Chair Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “We are the dealmakers without whom this legislative body cannot govern, and we intend to provide the American people with a working majority.”
Joyce led the letter along with Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), the group’s vice chair. In total, 21 House GOP members and members-elect signed on.
Those outright opposed to or withholding support from McCarthy criticize his handling of previous votes, that he will not commit to slashing and balancing the federal budget, and that he is not completely committed to impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. McCarthy has, however, called on Mayorkas to resign or face a House GOP investigation and potential impeachment inquiry.
The House Freedom Caucus has also pushed for rules changes that, on the whole, would empower individual members and chip away at leadership’s power. McCarthy has implemented some of the proposals.
McCarthy supporters, on the other hand, praise his fundraising and candidate recruitment efforts that led the House GOP to gain seats for two years in a row, and that he has given every faction of the caucus a seat at the table.
There is also no viable consensus GOP alternative to McCarthy, making him still the favorite to ultimately win the gavel.
“Our Democratic colleagues would only be too happy if we contributed to their efforts to derail our agenda with self-inflicted snags, like rallying around our already elected leadership,” the Republican Governance Group letter said.