House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday morning that he won’t offer any concessions to Democrats in exchange for helping him keep his leadership post as far-right conservatives prepare to try to oust him.
“They haven’t asked for anything, I’m not going to provide anything,” McCarthy said in an interview on CNBC.
He told reporters later Tuesday morning that he plans to bring up the motion to vacate — the resolution filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) aimed at removing McCarthy from his leadership post — in the early afternoon, during the first series of votes in the House.
Asked if he thinks he’ll be speaker by the end of the day, McCarthy said, “If I counted how many times someone wanted to knock me out, I would have been gone a long time ago.”
But moments later, when a reporter said it looks likely that at least five Republicans will side with Democrats to oust him, which is all it would take, McCarthy replied, “Probably so.”
Gaetz, a strong ally of former President Donald Trump, is leading the effort to replace McCarthy as payback for McCarthy rejecting demands from his far-right flank to include massive spending cuts in a bill to avert a government shutdown over the weekend.
In his Tuesday interview, McCarthy said he was taking a cue from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in terms of his unwillingness to court Democrats to remain speaker. He said when she was minority leader, she told previous GOP speakers that she didn’t believe in the idea of one party helping to bail out the other party’s top leader and would always vote against such an effort.
“Not based on saving an individual but based upon what’s good for government, what’s good for the institution as a whole,” McCarthy said of Pelosi’s philosophy, which he said he agrees with.
“That’s [what] the question has to be: Are we now in a situation in our government ― that we just provided keeping the government open ― that we’re going to play politics with how you become speaker?” the GOP leader said. “If that’s the case, then I think we’ve got real problems.”
McCarthy’s speakership has been plagued from the start. He endured 14 rounds of failed votes and weeks of humiliation just to become speaker. The only reason Gaetz can single-handedly force a vote to oust McCarthy is because McCarthy changed the House rules to allow a single member to force such a vote at any time ― one of many concessions McCarthy made to his far-right caucus to secure their votes to become speaker.
Gaetz filed his resolution late Monday. House rules require McCarthy to schedule a vote on it within two days. When the House does vote, McCarthy will need every GOP vote he can get to maintain his hold on the speakership. Republicans control 221 seats in the House, nine more than Democrats’ 212 seats. That means, with a full House voting, he can only afford to lose up to five Republicans.
But that margin can change depending on how many lawmakers are present and how many vote. Some could vote present or choose not to vote at all. In the end, all that matters is that a majority of those voting want to keep him.