House Conservatives Say ‘Not So Fast’ On Speaker Election

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Some conservatives on Capitol Hill are not ready to say the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a foregone conclusion for speaker.

“There’s not 218 votes for Kevin McCarthy or any other candidate. Until we get past that, which is at least two weeks, our understanding is it’s at least two weeks for a vote for speaker,” Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp told reporters Monday.

Huelskamp is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives who often found themselves at odds with now outgoing House Speaker John Boehner.

Florida Republican Rep. Daniel Webster announced his candidacy for the speakership, and Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam is being talked up as another potential candidate for speaker. Huelskamp told reporters that Freedom Caucus members plan on interviewing both declared candidates, McCarthy and Webster, but other members who are interested in the job have yet to announce.

“We are going to interview both of those candidates. Right now we have a block of candidates that are saying we need changes. No one has 218 today. When you look at what the polls are showing, about two thirds of the party says we need change in Washington. And just changing and moving one up may not be the answer. But again we still have not had the interviews,” Huelskamp said.

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie does not believe a McCarthy speakership will change anything when it comes to handling the budget negotiations. (RELATED: GOP Congressman Fears Replacing Boehner With ‘Right-Hand Man’)

“Oh I think it he will do just the same thing [as the current leadership],” Massie told reporters Tuesday, noting that Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are “creating the next crisis today” by “using the leverage of Christmas break to compel members to vote to bust the budget cap.”

Massie appears less optimistic than Huelskamp when it comes to gathering enough votes from conservative that may want someone else other than McCarthy.

“I suppose you could get some commitments. But even when you get commitments in writing, those are easily broken. It’s clear that McCarthy doesn’t have 218 votes yet. We are having a special conference today to slow this thing down.”

However, McCarthy supporters like Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul told TheDC he believes McCarthy has the speaker’s election “all sewn up.”

A recent rule change was considered in the Republican conference that would ban members currently in leadership positions from returning to their original positions if they choose to run and lose a higher leadership office. This rule change could discourage Republicans currently in leadership from going up against McCarthy at all.