Divided Republican Conference Goes Forward To Vote For Speaker

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

WASHINGTON—House Republicans supporting Florida Rep. Daniel Webster for speaker appear determined to vote for the Florida Republican regardless of whom the members nominate in conference Thursday.

“McCarthy probably has the majority of the conference right now,” Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie told The Daily Caller Wednesday night. “He still doesn’t have 218,” he said. Massie, a supporter of Webster for speaker, says he believes Webster is gaining momentum.

“I’m getting phone calls asking me to vote for Webster. There is a push from the outside….one [call] said support Webster and the other opposed McCarthy. So I only got two calls about speaker yesterday,” Massie said.

The forty member Freedom Caucus endorsed Daniel Webster Wednesday and many wonder if these members will vote as a block on the floor for Webster, even if House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy receives the nomination in conference. (RELATED: House Freedom Caucus Endorses Daniel Webster For Speaker)

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Glenn Grothman told reporters he is disappointed that Freedom Caucus members may not support the nominee if it is not Webster and criticized Webster for not saying he would support the nominee on the floor if it turns out not to be him.

Grothman, who did not say he is supporting any of the candidates, said, “We met with all three of them at the Republican study committee and listened to what they all said.”

“I know if Daniel wins, Rep. Chaffetz and Rep. McCarthy will vote for him. It is a little disturbing that if Rep. Chaffetz or if Rep. McCarthy wins, I don’t believe that Congressman Webster will do the same for them,” Grothman said.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz told TheDC he knows he is a long shot.

“I get that. But I thought I’d put my name in and offer an alternative and I’m glad I’ve done it. Let’s see what happens.”

He explained, “My basic analysis is still true. It’s still a difficult path for anybody. I’m trying to bridge the divide that is evident in our caucus, but we will see. I will endorse the nominee but I’m calling in working in trying to convince people of my vision for being speaker,” Chaffetz said.

Freedom Caucus member Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp says getting the necessary votes on the floor will be more difficult than people realize, regardless of what happens in conference prior the floor vote. Huelskamp told reporters he was taken back by how fast House Speaker John Boehner scheduled the vote.

Huelskamp explained, “I’m kind of surprised that they moved forward on that. Maybe it was John Boehner’s call not McCarthy’s. Usually they want to have their votes lined up before they start this.”

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King first nominated Webster for speaker back in January.

“And he received more votes than as a challenger in a majority party than anyone has had since the Civil War,” King said.

“It’s clear to me that Dan Webster has handled himself very well and has laid out a strategy to put the House of Representatives back on the kind of track that brings the voice up from the membership. And instead of being power driven it is principle driven,” King said, adding, “I don’t think anybody has spoken better to the issue then Daniel Webster has. I’m in speaking to him about the speakership for 2 1/2 years.”