Tags: John Boehner Resigns | mccarthy | boehner | gop | speaker

GOP Torn Over Next Speaker

GOP Torn Over Next Speaker
Oct. 7 GOP news conference (AP)

By Thursday, 08 October 2015 08:02 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With House Republicans meeting behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon, most signs point to their formally backing Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as their candidate to succeed John Boehner as House speaker.

But the stunning endorsement of Rep. Dan Webster by the House Freedom Caucus late Wednesday was evidence that conservative activists in the House were going to take the fight against McCarthy right up to the vote.

“And the Freedom Caucus has every intention of voting [for speaker] as a group,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the group that includes roughly 40 members, shortly before it gave its blessing to Webster over House Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz.

Jordan made his feelings known at “Conversations with Conservatives,” the monthly meeting on Capitol Hill of right-of-center Republican House Members and the press. At the Wednesday session, nine U.S. Representatives — about twice that who normally attend — faced a packed audience of reporters.

If they were displeased with the Republican endorsed for speaker, I asked, how many would actually vote for another candidate on Oct. 29 (when the full House chooses Boehner’s successor)?

Two of the nine — Reps. John Fleming and Raul Labrador — raised their hands, leaving no doubt they were willing to plunge their colleagues into multiple ballots to determine the next speaker.

“I don’t doubt there will be 218 votes [the majority of the full House needed to elect a speaker] behind the person nominated by the Conference,” Rep. Andy Harris, a not-so-subtle reference to nomination-favored McCarthy.

Recalling how the Freedom Caucus heard from all three GOP speaker candidates Tuesday night, Rep. Tim Huelskamp said: “Keven gained no voters there. I’ve been meeting with many conservative groups nationally and they are aghast at his major gaffe [about the Benghazi probe bringing down Hillary Clinton in the presidential polls]. There’s an incredible disconnect when 60 percent of Republicans nationwide think the House Republican leadership is doing a poor job.”

Rep. Justin Amash spoke for many of his conservative colleagues when he branded as “a false and lazy narrative” press reports that said they “want a more conservative speaker.” The truth is, he insisted, is “we want a more process-oriented speaker.”

Amash, Labrador, Huelskamp and others on the “Conversations” panel agreed that the next speaker must focus on process and enhance the role the individual members on issues.

They also underscored their belief that the next speaker must drive home the point that it is the filibuster in the Senate that is stifling the bills they pass and thus plays the greater role in shutting down the government than the House.

But the session ended as it began, with skepticism about the candidate for speaker who is the acknowledged front-runner. Kentucky’s freshman Rep. Tom Massie summed up these feelings succinctly, saying he cannot go back to his town hall meetings “and say ‘John Boehner stepped down as speaker and we elected his right-hand man. Your tens of thousands of calls meant nothing.’”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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There is skepticism about the candidate for speaker who is the acknowledged front-runner.
mccarthy, boehner, gop, speaker
Thursday, 08 October 2015 08:02 AM
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