McCarthy promises ‘fight’ will be speaker as Congress begins

Washington – House Republicans, along with GOP leaders, teetered on the brink of chaos on Tuesday’s opening day of the new Congress Kevin McCarthy He promises to “fight on the floor” if necessary to overcome right-wing colleagues who are refusing to vote for him to become Speaker of the House.

Even before Congress convened at noon, the scene unfolding on Capitol Hill was one of turmoil and uncertainty. This stalemate meant that after McCarthy led his party to a narrow Republican majority, he sought to seize his own political survival and avoid it. Nominated by a majority for the first time in 100 years Couldn’t win the gavel’s first vote.

McCarthy walked into the House, posed for a photo, and received a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle after being nominated by the third-ranked Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Republican.

“Nobody worked harder for this majority than Kevin McCarthy,” says Stefanik, RY

But Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, former conservative leader of the Freedom Caucus, was soon named chair by fellow conservatives.

In a tense mood, the first round of face-to-face began and was expected to last 45 minutes.

“We may fight on the floor, but it’s for the Congress and for the country,” McCarthy said on the Capitol.

McCarthy slipped out of a controversial closed-door meeting with fellow House Republicans, failed to convince detractors, and lacked the support he needed to become president. He has vowed to fight to the end — even if he has to face numerous public challenges in the first few days of the new parliament, highlighting divisions in his party and undermining its leadership.

A core group of conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus and sympathetic to Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda, were outraged, calling the closed-door meeting a “battering” by McCarthy supporters and sticking to their opposition to Republican leaders. .

“There is one person who could have changed all this,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R), chairman of the Freedom Caucus and leader of Trump’s 2020 presidential challenge. .

McCarthy rejected the group’s last-minute proposal for a rule change at a meeting at the Capitol late Monday, according to the group.

“If you want to drain the swamp, you can’t let the biggest alligators rule the movement,” said R-Fla Rep. Matt Gaetz.

“He fired us with a lot of zeal,” said R-Colo Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Congress convened in a new era of divided government after Democrats relinquished control of the House midterm elections loss.The Senate is controlled by Democrats, but just barely, Republicans in the House are eager to face off. President Joe Biden’s Agenda Two years after Democrats took control of both houses of Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi closed the final session moments by moving aside for new Democratic leadership to a standing ovation from colleagues on her side of the aisle.

The pastor opened with a prayer to energize the 118th Congress.

But first, House Republicans had to elect the next speaker after the president.

“Let the show begin,” quipped one lawmaker on the Democratic side of the aisle.

McCarthy was set to replace Pelosi, but he headed off to the vote without any guarantee of success. He faced entrenched detractors among his peers. Despite his attempts to appease, quarrel and persuade them, McCarthy fell short, even with the support of former President Trump.

The Democrats have named Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-.NY), who will be the party’s leader, as the speaker. It’s a quintessentially symbolic gesture for minorities, but it’s taken on new significance in the Republican Party’s turmoil.

California Rep. Pete Aguilar, the third-ranked Democrat, said in nominating a colleague: Democrats applauded.

The morning meeting of House Republicans made a ruckus before what is traditionally a day of celebration as newly elected representatives arrive for the oath of office. Accompanied by families, new members of Congress prepare to take the oath of office in the House and Senate for the start of the two-year legislative session.

A new generation of Trump-aligned Republicans led the opposition to McCarthy. They don’t think McCarthy is conservative or tough enough to fight the Democrats. It’s reminiscent of the last time Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm elections.The Tea Party class ushered in a new era of hardball politics that ultimately forced House Speaker John Boehner into early retirement. I was allowed to.

“Nothing has changed,” said Rep. Bob Goode, R-Va. ‘The problem is Kevin McCarthy’

Normally, it takes a majority of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, or 218 votes, to become Speaker. With only 222 of his GOP seats, McCarthy could afford to lose a handful of votes. If some lawmakers are absent or simply attend and vote, as Pelosi and Boehner did, a congressman can win with less than his 218 votes.

But despite promises of weeks of closed-door meetings and changes to House rules, McCarthy has remained a core and potentially growing group of right-wing Republicans led by the conservative Liberal caucus. I couldn’t win the group that was playing. Nearly a dozen Republicans have publicly voiced their concerns about McCarthy.

Some die-hard Republican conservatives challenged McCarthy in closed-door sessions. He objected and allowed anonymity to discuss closed-door sessions, according to Republicans in the room.

A sizable but less vocal group of McCarthy supporters launched their own campaign, “Only Kevin,” as a way to shut out the opposition and pledge their support to him alone.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (RS.D.), leader of a more pragmatic conservative group, said there was “growing frustration” with minorities.

“Kevin McCarthy is the right person to lead this meeting and the right person to be Speaker of the House,” Johnson said.

A viable challenger to McCarthy had not yet emerged. Biggs, Arizona ran as a conservative choice, but was not expected to win a majority. McCarthy defeated him in his November nomination race, 188-31.

Second-ranked House Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is clearly the next candidate. The conservative is widely liked by his colleagues and is considered a hero by some after surviving a gunshot wound sustained during a Congressional baseball practice in 2017.

Former rivals McCarthy and Scalise became a team. Scalise’s office on Monday dismissed as “false” a suggestion by another Republican that Scalise was calling about the president’s election.

The last time a contest of speakers was held multiple times was in 1923.

“This is much more important than one person,” said Doug Hay, a former senior aide to Republican leadership.

Without speakers, the House would not be fully formed, appointing committee chairs, engaging in parliamentary proceedings, and launching investigations into the Biden administration.

On the other side of the Capitol, it was a stark contrast to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially becoming the longest-serving party leader in House history.

Despite being a minority in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 majority, McConnell is proving to be a viable partner as Biden seeks a bipartisan victory in a new era of divided government. of the two men were expected to appear together It was held later that week in Kentucky, home of the Republican Party leader, to celebrate federal infrastructure investment in a critical bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio.

McCarthy’s run for chairman would have been almost certain. He led his party to a majority, raised millions of dollars in campaign funds, and traveled the country to get many new legislators to run for office.

But McCarthy has been here before, and abruptly dropped out of the presidential race in 2015 when it became clear that he had no support from conservatives to replace Boehner.

One of the main demands from this holdout is for McCarthy to reinstate the rule allowing one member to “move to vacate the chair.”

Pelosi removed the rule after conservatives used it to threaten Boehner’s dismissal, but McCarthy agreed to add it back — but at a higher threshold, at least five lawmakers had to sign the motion.

__ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. McCarthy promises ‘fight’ will be speaker as Congress begins

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