House leadership election: Kevin McCarthy answers questions from GOP conference


House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy answered questions from members of the conference during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Monday night, according to a member present, as part of his bid to assuage concerns among House Republicans and win enough support. Part of the effort to lead the conference is in the new Congress.

McCarthy received a standing ovation at the first post-election meeting, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

“They don’t hand out small, medium, large mallets — we’re in the majority and we have mallets,” McCarthy said.

House Republicans will meet on Monday night to discuss the leadership nominees and vote behind closed doors on Tuesday. McCarthy needed only a simple majority on Tuesday’s vote to advance, but the House will need 218 votes to win the speakership when the new House convenes in January.

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the former chairman of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, is considering running against McCarthy in Tuesday’s House GOP leadership election, according to Republican sources familiar with the matter. Launch a forward challenge. McCarthy’s team is already bracing for that possibility.

Biggs would not confirm to CNN whether he would launch a vision challenge in Tuesday’s House Republican leadership election, but he believes there will be a challenger.

“With nobody having 218 votes, there’s going to be a challenger in the conference,” Biggs said.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told reporters Monday afternoon that someone will challenge McCarthy and get enough votes to show he doesn’t currently have enough votes to win the gavel in January.

“There will be alternatives,” Roy said.

Former President Donald Trump has been privately encouraging allies to back McCarthy for House speaker, arguing that the California Republican would be a key candidate if the former president finds himself in a contested 2024 primary, according to two people familiar with the matter. A fortune in the future.

Trump reiterated his support for McCarthy’s leadership bid in a Fox News interview last week, and he has since been on the phone to persuade Republican allies, especially conservative members who are skeptical of McCarthy, to back him.

The news came on the eve of Trump’s expected announcement of a third presidential campaign. The former president and the California Republican have spoken several times since the midterm elections, and McCarthy’s camp hopes Trump’s endorsement will help win over some of McCarthy’s staunchest Trump supporters who have criticized him, the sources said.

Although Trump launched a campaign in favor of McCarthy, it didn’t exactly break through. Some of Trump’s staunchest allies have been attacking McCarthy’s conservative media. However, one prominent Trump ally who will actually vote in the speaker race went on to join Steve Bannon’s podcast on Monday and voiced his support for McCarthy: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia called challenging McCarthy “bad strategy” and “risky” because their majority is likely to be slim.

McCarthy has been trying to court Greene, from weekly meetings with her in his office to promising her better committee assignments after Democrats kicked her off the committee for inflammatory remarks.

Meanwhile, Trump aides and allies have been privately criticizing the Minnesota congressman. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (Tom Emmer) has not performed well in the Republican midterm elections, especially in the House of Representatives. CNN has yet to predict which party will take control of the lower chamber, although Republicans appear to be on track to secure a slim majority in the House. Emmer is competing with Rep. Donald Trump Jr. ally Jim Banks is running for the House Republican whip.

“The strategy is to protect McCarthy from blame because [Trump] He needs to run for president,” said one of Trump’s advisers.

Trump has been eager to lock in Republican public support for his third presidential bid, and another GOP source said he has been asking which Republican lawmakers are backing him in the media. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik is by far the highest-ranking Republican to formally endorse Trump’s 2024 bid.

Trump’s support for McCarthy contrasts sharply with his relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Republican sources told CNN last week that Trump is rallying his allies in the Senate to stoke opposition against Kentucky Republicans ahead of Wednesday’s Senate leadership election.

A handful of outspoken Republican senators have been calling for their leadership election to be delayed so they can have a “family discussion” about why the GOP is underperforming. At least one Republican senator. Missouri’s Josh Hawley has spoken out against McConnell’s candidacy for Republican leadership.

McConnell has been calling his colleagues over the past few days to bolster his support as his team plans to move forward with a leadership election on Wednesday. They plan to hold the Republican Party’s Clean Air Conference on Tuesday.

Several members of the Freedom Caucus met with McCarthy in his office on Monday, where they tried to wrest concessions from him in exchange for their vote for speaker.

Rep. Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, said that while McCarthy has been willing to listen to them, he doesn’t think McCarthy will reach any deal until after Tuesday, when Perry is “99% confident” someone will challenge McCarthy. , to prove to him that he does not have the 218 he needs to vote in the House in January.

“I don’t think anything will really change between now and then,” Perry told CNN, leaving a meeting in McCarthy’s office.

Rep. Bob Goode said McCarthy faced a “tough climb” as speaker as he said they had asked McCarthy to give them his advice on running the House.

While their main focus has been seeking rule changes to empower individual members — and weaken speakers — that’s not the “limit” of their problem, Perry said.

“We want to see a sea change in this place to reflect the will of the people and acknowledge how broken it is,” he said. “Anyone who wants to lead has a responsibility to develop their vision and how they’re going to change their part.”

This story and headline have been updated with more developments on Monday.

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