U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to have locked up enough support among his fellow Republicans to be nominated for speaker, but has not nailed down the 218 votes needed to be elected by the full chamber, Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday.
House of Representatives Republicans are scheduled to cast secret ballots on Thursday on their choice to replace House Speaker John Boehner, who is resigning from Congress on Oct. 30.
McCarthy, currently the No. 2 House Republican, and the front-runner in the race, has two announced Republican opponents for the job – House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Representative Daniel Webster of Florida.
A group of around 40 of the most conservative House Republicans – enough to keep him from being elected speaker in a public vote – were largely still non-committal after a candidate forum on Tuesday.
The Freedom Caucus is expected to meet on Wednesday to decide which candidate to support.
“We have every intention of voting together tomorrow and on the house floor,” said Representative Jim Jordan, the group’s leader.
Some Freedom Caucus members said they would not support McCarthy, including Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who said he would likely vote for Webster.
“I don’t think Kevin convinced anybody that he would be much different than John Boehner,” Huelskamp said. “Right now it’s just ‘Trust me.'”
This really isn’t the time for the Freedom Caucus to fall in line just to make things smooth, as that is really not their function right now.
Falling in line is precisely what made Kevin McCarthy unpopular with many conservatives. McCarthy and Eric Cantor were seen as fresh-faced agents of change when they got to Congress but quickly became boring keepers of the status quo.
Look how well that worked out for Cantor.
As for McCarthy, it’s tempting to ask, “Can he really be any worse than Boehner?”
If there’s one big lesson I’ve learned in the last six years, it’s to never ask if things can get worse in Washington.