McCarthy Pinning Thursday Hopes on Campaign Concession
WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and his allies in Congress are pinning their hope that he’ll finally be elected House speaker on Thursday on a promise that his political action committee won’t support candidates in open primaries in safe Republican districts.
The deal, reached behind closed doors Wednesday night before the House adjourned for the evening, would satisfy a major demand from conservative Republicans, who have been angered over the committee’s support for more mainstream candidates in recent elections.
Whether the agreement, which was reached with the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group that has opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, will be enough to inspire 17 of this week’s no-voters to move over to his side, is Thursday morning’s great unknown.
An anticipated seventh vote in the speaker contest was not held last night in the wake of the deal, and the chamber isn’t scheduled to reconvene until noon.
As previously reported in The Well News, McCarthy has been the loser in six rounds of voting so far.
On Wednesday, in three successive votes, McCarthy came away with 201 votes each time to New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ 212.
Meanwhile, Freedom Caucus nominee Rep.-elect Byron Donalds, R-Fla., received 20 votes, the McCarthy-dissenting block holding firm.
While the votes were similar to Tuesday’s results, one member who had previously voted for McCarthy, Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., voted “present” in all three rounds on Wednesday.
The deal on the primaries was made by the Club for Growth’s David McIntosh, who represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to 2000, and who has opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, and Dan Conston, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund.
McCarthy, of course, is precluded by law from participating directly in the fund’s spending decisions.
In statements released jointly Wednesday night, Conston said, “Kevin McCarthy has effectively led House Republicans from the minority to the majority and we want to see him continue to lead the party so we can pick up seats for the third cycle in a row.
“CLF will not spend in any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts and CLF will not grant resources to other super PAC’s to do so,” he said. “CLF has never spent a dollar against a Republican incumbent before and obviously will continue that policy in the future.
“CLF will continue to support incumbents in primaries as well as challengers in districts that affect the majority, which proved to be critical to winning the majority in 2022,” Conston said.
McIntosh said, “This agreement on super PAC’s fulfills a major concern we have pressed for.
“We understand that leader McCarthy and members are working on a rules agreement that will meet the principles we have set out previously. Assuming these principles are met, Club for Growth will support Kevin McCarthy for speaker,” he added.
The agreement on the primaries isn’t the only concession McCarthy and his supporters reportedly made Wednesday night.
Among other things, he appears to have acquiesced to a demand to lower the threshold needed to force a vote ousting a speaker to just one member.
In addition, he’s said to have promised to give the House Freedom Caucus two seats on the powerful House Rules Committee, which oversees the amendment process for the floor.
He’s also reportedly agreed to hold a vote on a proposal by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., to limit members to just three terms in the House, and also that future votes on each of the 12 annual appropriations bills will be considered under what is known as an “open rule,” allowing floor amendments to be offered by any lawmaker.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue
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