WASHINGTON – House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy served further notice Sunday that his potential speakership will be politically volatile, saying he will try to keep three high-profile Democrats off of certain committees.
Democrats said McCarthy will do whatever his right wing wants him to do because he still lacks the votes to land the speaker’s job.
In stumping for the position, McCarthy has targeted Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., members of the House Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy and other Republicans have for months said these members’ past statements and actions regarding issues like Israel, China and Russia should keep them off these committees.
“I’ll keep that promise” to remove them, McCarthy told Fox News.
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Schiff and other Democrats said McCarthy is trying to court support from hard-right conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. – who was expelled from committees during a 2021 vote of the full House because of her incendiary statements about Democrats.
“I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do,” Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.” “He is a very weak leader of his conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator. And if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that’s what they’ll do.”
McCarthy is favored to become Speaker of the House when Republicans take over the chamber next year – but it is not yet a done deal.
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Conservative Republicans like Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida said they will oppose McCarthy. Every vote counts because the GOP majority will likely be no more than 10 seats.
“He does seem to be struggling” to get to the 218 votes necessary to win the speakership, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who is expected to be Democratic leader in the next Congress.
“Let’s see what happens on January 3,” Jeffries said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who is retiring from Congress and ran afoul of McCarthy over the latter’s support of Donald Trump, told CNN the presumed speaker has made a lot of promises to Greene and other hard-right conservatives.
Right-wing Republicans won’t be happy if McCarthy has to cut deals with Democrats to get essential business done, Kinzinger said, and he could wind up as their political hostage.
“I, frankly, don’t think he’s going to last very long,” Kinzinger said. “Maybe he will prove me wrong. But it’s sad to see a man that I think had so much potential just totally sell himself.”
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