If there was that doubt that there was discord among the Republicans in Congress, that doubt can now be erased. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the front-runner to replace John Boehner announced early Thursday that he was withdrawing from the race to become the new speaker when Boehner’s term ends on October 30. McCarthy was running against Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Daniel Webster, R-Fla.
The news clearly sets up a battle between establishment Republicans and conservatives over control of the House of Representatives. McCarthy was seen as the favorite to succeed Boehner, however it didn’t take long for him to draw controversy into himself when he appeared to link Hillary Clinton’s dropping poll numbers to the congressional Benghazi committee. His comments fueled Democratic charges that the committee is merely political.
Republicans have nearly 250 members in the House and on paper have the numbers to win against the Democrats’ nominee, likely Nancy Pelosi, however that number may be split among the varying factions of the GOP.
As late as yesterday it was clear that McCarthy would not get the 218 votes he needed to guarantee he would win a vote for the speaker on the house floor which had originally been set for October 29.
“I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. 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,” Boehner said in a statement.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee Was confident party could unite and support and you later however echoed his previous sentiment that he would not run for the post.
“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision,” Ryan said in a statement. “Now it is important that we, as a Conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”
Conservatives likely don’t have enough votes to win the speaker position however, members of the House Freedom Caucus, are demanding rules changes that will reduce the speaker’s authority and allow more conservative amendments to come to the floor for a vote.