McCarthy's Speaker Struggle Imperils GOP Agenda

Delays in settling on leaders mean party won't be able to launch investigations
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2022 5:45 PM CST
Speaker Battle Imperils Plans of GOP, McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pauses as he talks to reporters on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy's chaotic campaign to become speaker of the House is setting the new GOP majority up for a slow start in January, possibly putting the GOP agenda at risk, Republicans say. This week, McCarthy postponed races for committee chairmanships until after the speaker vote on Jan. 3, a move that will avoid creating unhappy members who don't win a post. But it also creates uncertainty in the leadership, as well as committee makeup and staff jobs, just as Republicans are planning their moves, Politico reports. "Without question, delays in selecting chairmen and committee members put a lot of pressure on the agenda," said retiring Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican who used to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.

The effects of the delay go beyond legislation. Republicans won't be able to launch the investigations they've promised supporters, including probes of Hunter Biden and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. And they can't withdraw lawsuits filed by House counsel Doug Letter at the behest of Democrats—including one against Steve Bannon—because they won't be able to hire Letter's replacement. McCarthy said Friday that the five members opposed to his bid haven't budged, per the Hill. That puts Republicans' plans "all in jeopardy," he said, per CNN. McCarthy needs four of those votes to be elected.

Allies of McCarthy suggested kicking opponents off their committees now; one House Republican told Axios that's not the way to build a winning team. "We need to get to 218 [votes] 20 times a week for the next 24 months," the member said, "and ultimately this is a coalition that's going to have to figure out how to live with one another." The speaker battle might be a hint of the problems McCarthy could have passing legislation with a thin, 222-seat majority. Rep. Jim Banks, a McCarthy supporter, said, per the AP, "The fear is, that if we stumble out of the gate," GOP voters "will revolt over that, and they will feel let down." On Friday, McCarthy said, "I just believe this is a win for the Democrats." House Democrats elected a new slate of leaders on Nov. 30. (More Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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