Rep. McCarthy makes concessions to win Speaker chair

House of Representatives votes on the rules to run the chamber
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:17 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Saturday morning, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) got the votes to become the Speaker of the House. The process took four days and 15 different votes, with McCarthy working to sway about 20 holdouts during the process.

“At the end of the night, [Congressman] Matt [Gaetz] got everybody there from the point that nobody voted against the other way, so it actually helped unite people,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the final vote.

Casey Burgat, the Legislative Affairs Program Director at George Washington University, says there are three main concessions McCarthy had to give to get the votes.

The first concession was to agree to appoint at least three members of the House Freedom Caucus to the House Committee on Rules.

“In a very quick way, the Rules Committee is how the majority controls what bills are voted on and when,” Burgat explained. “Adding those members brings that that that more conservative style to that sort of calculus of how the House operates.”

McCarthy’s second concession was to promise committee positions to some in the group of holdouts.

“He also had to give out committee assignments, even subcommittee chairmanships to members of that that defectors group, which means he’s upsetting someone else that was those trying to count on those committee assignments or those gavels,” said Burgat.

The third concession has the possibility to have the most impact on McCarthy. To get the votes, he agreed to lower the threshold to call for a vote of no confidence for the Speaker to just a single Member. This provision is called the motion to vacate the chair.

“It’s not even just a member of the majority party but also a member of the minority party can issue our call for that vote, and then basically get a House wide vote on whether McCarthy should continue as speaker,” Burgat explained. “That’s just a recognition that the McCarthy leash, the amount of trust that they’re giving him, is about at an all time low.”

Burgat says these moves have the possibility to weaken the Speaker’s power. “If you have a group of of folks that are willing to just upset the leaders within their own party, they can have a lot of influence and they can use that leverage to make them look weak, even though they still have all those powers available to them.”

The House is set to begin voting on these rules at 5:00 p.m. ET Monday. Two Republicans have promised, even before the chamber convened, to vote against the rules package. Speaker McCarthy still has only a four-vote margin of error.