Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene criticised Republicans who oppose Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker of the House after a heated Republican conference meeting on Tuesday.
Speaking outside the room in the Capitol basement where House Republicans heard remarks from Mr McCarthy, who mounted a last-minute push to secure the 218 votes necessary to succeed his fellow Californian Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms Greene complained about her colleague’s intransigence and said it was unproductive.
“I think it makes them destructionists,” the Georgia Republican told The Independent. “You can’t accomplish anything if you just say ‘never.’”
Ms Greene has emerged as a vocal supporter of the longtime Republican leader, who has pledged to give her plum committee assignments after Democrats stripped them from her during the 117th Congress. But the second-term Georgian’s support for Mr McCarthy puts her at odds with her fellow conservatives, including Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who on Tuesday said nothing has changed despite Mr McCarthy’s last-minute entreaties.
The Grand Canyon State representative has led the small group of members on the hard right flank of the House Republican Conference who oppose Mr McCarthy’s bid for speaker, a group that includes staunch conservatives such as Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana. When asked how many votes he expected to receive, Mr Biggs said “maybe anywhere from 14 to 20.”
Mr Rosendale did not name an alternative consensus candidate for speaker when asked.
“I guess as they emerge, we shall see,” he told The Independent.
Mr Good said that Mr McCarthy’s defiant tone during the meeting hurt his cause.
“I don’t think he won anybody over that he didn’t already have,” he told reporters.
Speaking to reporters before the House convened on Tuesday, another Republican opposed to Mr McCarthy — Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado — said her opposition was based on Mr McCarthy’s refusal to restore a House rule allowing any one member to force a vote on whether to replace the sitting Speaker.
“You cannot demand more responsibly and less accountability,” said Ms Boebert, who compared Mr McCarthy’s attitude towards the so-called “motion to vacate the chair” to the outgoing Democratic Speaker, Ms Pelosi, who pushed through rule changes to limit the procedural tactic when Democrats took control of the chamber in 2019.
Ms Pelosi’s actions at the time were informed by the previous GOP majority’s use of the motion to vacate to end the speakership of Representative John Boehner in 2015. Mr Boehner was forced out by a small group of Republicans who were angered by his refusal to engage in hardline tactics such as shutting down the government or forcing a default on US sovereign debt to extract policy concessions from the Obama administration.
Many of the GOP members who forced out Mr Boehner are now among those who oppose Mr McCarthy, but unlike the last time Republicans controlled the chamber, the GOP only has 222 votes in their new majority, meaning Mr McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes in his quest for the speaker’s gavel.
Another pro-McCarthy member, Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas also criticised the anti-McCarthy group, telling reporters that they misread how voters miscalculated how voters would see them.
“They calculated that people will see them as these noble freedom fighters fighting for a cause, but they can't seem to say what the cause is,” he said. “That makes him look pretty f***ing stupid.”
Similarly, Representative Brian Mast said that conservative critics of Mr McCarthy had dug themselves in too deeply to back down.
“You have people that were just sending that went out and made statements with the media that feel a sale ‘well, if I don't go out there and do what I said, you know, and at least oppose one round or two rounds or something like that, that I'm gonna look like I have no balls back home,’” he told reporters.
Representative Dave Schweikert of Arizona, who is a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and noted he supported Mr McCarthy despite Mr McCarthy in the past opposing him. said that he expected there to be some kind of reconciliation soon.
“They’re the ones who will have to rebuild the relationships with the other members,” he told The Independent.
In an impromptu news conference on Tuesday, Mr McCarthy complained that the members opposing him are merely a “few individuals that want something for themselves” and vowed to remain a candidate for Speaker even if he loses the first vote.
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