Reports of possible deal on major concessions in stalemate over McCarthy speakership bid

 January 6, 2023

Congress is abuzz with talk of a potential deal shaping up between would-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the entrenched detractors within his own party who have thus far blocked his speakership bid, The Hill reported.

The tentative agreement comes after 11 ballots over three successive days in which McCarthy failed to reach the majority support necessary to be elected Speaker due to around 20 staunch Republican critics who refused to vote in his favor.

Possible deal being worked out

The Hill reported that a small group of House Republicans that included McCarthy's supporters and opponents was engaged in back-and-forth negotiations behind closed doors for much of the day on Thursday to try and formulate a deal on concessions to appease and win over at least some of McCarthy's critics.

On McCarthy's side, the group included House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) plus Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC). The anti-McCarthy negotiators included Reps. Dan Bishop (R-NC), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Chip Roy (R-TX).

An optimistic McHenry told reporters, "We have the right contours that enable us to get Kevin McCarthy having the majority of the vote, and that’s assurances on the structure of how we’re going to deal with each other, how we’re going to enable sound public policy, and the type of public policy that will be front and center for this Congress."

"It’s the type of assurances that all majorities need to make at some period of time. I wish we’d have made them before, but we’re making them now," he added. "We’ve had members that have held out in the hopes of getting more conservative policy to the floor, and I think we can get there. This is the most hopeful set of conversations we’ve had in weeks."

Some of the major proposed concessions

While the full details of the proposed deal have not been revealed, Politico reported that some of the terms include starting the process for a bill to impose term limits on Congress and the inclusion of more House Freedom Caucus members on the highly influential House Rules Committee.

One rather substantial concession is the lowering of the threshold to trigger a vote on a motion to "vacate the chair," or to remove the speaker, to just a single member -- down from the threshold of five members that McCarthy reportedly agreed to previously, which was already significantly down from the prior threshold of a majority of the majority party.

Another huge potential victory for McCarthy's critics is an agreement for the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC to stay out of open primary races for safe Republican seats, which reportedly won over the support of the conservative Club for Growth organization. That concession would reduce the influence of the GOP establishment and allow for more anti-establishment outsiders to possibly win seats in Congress.

Other concessions tentatively agreed to, according to The Hill, include opening up the amendment process for all members to offer changes to bills, instituting a 72-hour window between a bill's introduction and a final vote so members have a chance to read the legislation, and increasing legislative oversight of the executive branch agencies, among other things.

McCarthy's concessions to opponents possibly alienating supporters

Of course, the many concessions made by McCarthy to try and sway the roughly 20 intransigent "No" votes run the risk of alienating and losing some of the 200 other House Republicans who support his bid for the speakership, according to The Washington Post.

Indeed, the outlet noted that an increasing number of McCarthy's allies were growing weary of the continuing standoff and had begun to suggest that further concessions would go too far and, in effect, reward the behavior of the members who have disrupted what is typically a smooth process to select a House Speaker.

There are also concerns from some that the concessions to limit the power of the Speaker and party establishment will allow McCarthy's critics to delay or halt House business going forward. As things stand right now, however, nothing can be done at all in the House until a new Speaker is chosen by a majority of members, which has some of McCarthy's backers already fuming.

"If we had elected Kevin McCarthy speaker we would have already voted to defund the 87,000 new IRS agents, new border security measures, and a select committee on China," Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) told The Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday. "We would also be sending notices to the Biden administration that we’re coming for answers on the FBI, Department of Justice, the Afghanistan withdrawal, and conflicts of interest surrounding the Biden family."

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