House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday said the five Republican lawmakers opposing his Speakership bid have not moved their stances, despite the two sides continuing conversations ahead of next month’s floor vote.
“We’re still continuing to talk, but they have not moved,” McCarthy told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt during an interview on his radio show.
The comment comes 18 days before McCarthy’s nomination for Speaker hits the House floor, where he will need support from a majority of those voting for a Speaker candidate on Jan. 3 to win the gavel.
But that task is proving to be a difficult lift because of a contingent of Republicans who have either said or strongly signaled that they will not support McCarthy for the top spot.
The five holdouts are Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Bob Good (R-Va.). On Thursday, Axios reported that the coalition plans to vote as a unit when McCarthy’s nomination comes to the floor for a vote next month.
“We all operate as five. … We come as five, so we’re going to agree on all [of the concessions we need],” Norman said on Wednesday, according to the outlet.
That statement spells trouble for McCarthy, who can only afford to lose a few GOP votes next month because of Republicans’ projected 222-212 majority at the time of the floor vote. A number of other GOP lawmakers have not yet said how they plan to vote, but they did lay out a list of demands that they expect from a Speaker.
McCarthy, for his part, is brushing off the opposition. He told Hewitt that “in the end” he believes they will stand down.
“We had a discussion. We had the conference decide. They got to vote in a secret ballot who they wanted to have their designee on the floor that day. I won with 85% of the vote,” he told Hewitt.
“I just believe this is a win for the Democrats. They’re sitting back, and we can’t allow that to happen. We are the only individuals standing in the way of stopping more Democratic bad policy,” he added.
McCarthy is exuding confidence as centrist lawmakers ramp up their support for the Republican leader. More centrist members of the Republican Governance Group started wearing buttons this week that read “O.K.,” which stands for “Only Kevin.”