McCarthy confident speakership intact as temporary spending measure fails
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy brushed off any concerns that Republican lawmakers are gunning for his job, but the looming government shutdown is haunting the California Republican.
Mr. McCarthy told The Washington Times at a press conference Friday that he has “never asked” anyone on his leadership team if they will challenge him for the speakership, and he doesn’t plan to do so.
He spoke before 21 Republicans voted against a stopgap spending measure that he brought to the floor. The defeat could spell doom for Mr. McCarthy if he does not manage to wrangle enough support for a stop-gap measure before the Saturday midnight deadline.
While the House has passed three spending bills, lawmakers still need to pass a temporary spending measure to fund the government.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, delivered a speech on the House floor Wednesday intensifying his threats to oust Mr. McCarthy, who could be ejected with what’s known as a motion to vacate the chair.
“For the last eight months, this House has been poorly led, and we own that. We have to do something about it,” Mr. Gaetz said. “And you know what? My Democrat colleagues will have an opportunity to do [it].”
Although the Florida Republican said he did not have anyone in mind as a replacement for Mr. McCarthy, there are reports that Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the House GOP Whip, has been floated as a possibility. Mr. Emmer stated he had “no interest” in challenging Mr. McCarthy.
Other GOP lawmakers told The Washington Times that talk about removing Mr. McCarthy amounts to personality differences between Mr. Gaetz and the speaker, along with the press fueling speculation.
Rep. Byron Donalds, Florida Republican, told reporters that if Mr. McCarthy can take the legislation over the finish line before the deadline Saturday, sour feelings between certain GOP lawmakers and the speaker will likely dissipate.
“It’s touch and go. It’s tough right now. What we’re trying to do [with this entire process] is just rebuild some of that working relationship,” Mr. Donalds said. “Some members are just not there at all right now. But there’s nothing like winning that helps you get people back home.”
Rep. Steve Womack, Arkansas Republican, said that a call to oust Mr. McCarthy would be “kind of getting down in the sewer.”
“When you start talking about and doing motions to vacate and the intra-party rivalries and just all of that airing of dirty laundry,” he told reporters. “I come more from the background [that] I would like to be able to keep personality clashes and differences inside the family.”