The White House confirmed today that, no, they don’t have a chosen favorite among House Republicans to replace John Boehner (R-Ohio) as speaker — at least no one that they’re saying.
Press secretary Josh Earnest started today’s briefing after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced he would drop out of the speaker’s race.
“My guess is that an endorsement from me from here would, well, no be viewed as an endorsement,” Earnest said. “So, I — you know, look, Republicans have to make some decisions about how to lead their conference. And certainly it’s easy to poke fun at the chaos, but the fact is the challenge that is facing the next Republican speaker of the House, regardless of who it is, is the same challenge that John Boehner faced; is the same challenge that Kevin McCarthy would have faced.”
“And that is simply to unite a divided Republican caucus. There is a minority group of conservative Republican politicians that places their own extreme ideology ahead of everything else. And certainly ahead of effective governance of the country, but also as of today, ahead of the effective governance of the House Republican caucus.”
Earnest said “somebody within the — among the House Republicans will have to step forward and demonstrate an ability to either tame the forces of that, again, small but vocal group of extreme ideologues, or buck up the mainstream, or at least more mainstream majority within the House Republican Conference.”
“That will also include a willingness to work in bipartisan fashion to do what’s right for the country; to not insist on receiving 100 percent of everything that they ask for. A., it’s not how our democracy works. It’s certainly not how our democracy works when you have one party in charge of Congress and another party in charge of the White House,” he continued.
“So, there’s a path to solving these problems. And there is a path to including a conservative imprint on those solutions. But there will not be a path of addressing these significant challenges if Republicans choose to confront them in a way that satisfies the most extreme ideologues in their party.”
Earnest added that the next speaker “will have to decide if they are more interested in insulating themselves from criticism that’s vocalized by extreme ideologues in their party, or are they more interested in advancing the interests of the American people.”
“…When you have the majority in both the House and the Senate, you have a responsibility. And it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your principles. But it does mean that at some point, you’re going to have to seek common ground with the other side. That’s what our democracy demands. That is what is functionally required in an era of divided government.”
With McCarthy dropping out of the race, Boehner called off the House Republican Conference vote for his replacement.
“As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker,” Boehner said in a statement. “We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”