It appears that the Republicans are going to win the House but not by the margins that they anticipated. That could cause an insane choice for the speaker of the House.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could have issues as the House Freedom Caucus has threatened to withhold its votes unless he gives them some concessions, the Washington Examiner reported. That has prompted one Republican Representative, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, of suggesting that Rep. McCarthy speak to Democrats and attempt to get some of their votes.
“Just cut a deal with the Dems Kevin. Whatever you get from Freedom Caucus will not be worth it. The odds will be good but the goods will be odd,” he said.
With the Freedom Caucus having played a key role in pushing former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to step down and demanding changes to the motion to vacate the chair to ease the process of ousting a sitting speaker, one Democratic member argued that a McCarthy speakership may have more staying power if he doesn’t strike a deal with his conservative critics.
“If he asks, [it could be a possibility]. Either you can be speaker for two years and go cash out on Wall Street or be speaker for three months and get pushed out by the Freedom Caucus,” one lawmaker said, adding that the specific demands that could be made that would be palatable enough to get the Democrats on board are “above my pay grade, but that is what I would do.”
The member added that they believe McCarthy is “so vapid and desperate for power” they could likely extract a lot out of the California Republican.
“Won’t know that until the dust settles, the margin is determined, and how badly McCarthy needs some Dem support. Anything is possible,” another Congressperson said. “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, not in speakership races.”
One progressive Congressmember said that a deal with Rep. McCarthy could be possible if the alternative was a more extreme Republican as Speaker.
“I doubt it, but I guess if the alternative is [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)], could be possible. I think it’d be more about the alternative than anything he could give,” the member said.
But another Democrat did not like the idea.
“Under no circumstances would just about any Dem ever vote for someone who has downplayed Jan. 6. I’m one of the most bipartisan people in the place, and the thought of supporting him makes me laugh. It’s an insane proposition to consider supporting someone like him. I would never do that. No Dem with principles and a belief in democracy would ever do that,” they said.
But the wackiest theory, and one that could happen, is Rep. Liz Cheney, who will no longer be a member of Congress in 2023, could be Speaker if Democrats joined a handful of Republicans to elect her. A Speaker does not need to be a member of Congress which means that Rep. Cheney, or anyone, is eligible to be Speaker if they have the votes.
The Congressmember said there have been private conversations about “voting for [Rep.] Liz [Cheney] and getting a hearty group of both sides to vote for her as a rebuke of Trumpism in a scenario where Kevin couldn’t get the votes. I would classify them as serious in intent to put forth a principled option with the goal of bringing people together but not serious in that I can’t imagine that getting to 218.”
As for asking for Democrat votes Rep. McCarthy’s spokesman, Mark Bednar, said that was not an option for him. A Democrat operative said that voting for McCarthy could end a Democrat’s career.
“That’s political suicide for any Dem that votes for that. You may get a naive mod who thinks it makes sense. I imagine some responsible adult would explain to them how Washington works in that case,” they said. “I get that strategically [there could be certain things Democrats could gain], but I see no way Pelosi greenlights that, especially given that it’s McCarthy and what she thinks of him. They’ve got a circular firing squad going on right now — no need for us to interrupt them.”
“I find that HIGHLY unlikely,” another member of Congress said. “But stranger things have happened, I guess.”