Wednesday, October 14, 2015

House Speaker Race in Chaos as McCarthy Withdraws

Drew Thies

Many in Washington are left wondering about the future of leadership in the U.S. House as current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his name for consideration for the chamber’s top post.

House Republicans held a closed-door meeting at noon on Thursday, October 8 to determine who would be the party nominee for Speaker. McCarthy abruptly withdrew his name at the beginning of the meeting, forcing current Speaker John Boehner to delay the vote.

Two other members were running for Speaker, David Webster of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, though both bids were seen as long shots to McCarthy’s assumed succession.

While it was never questioned whether or not McCarthy would receive a votes from the majority of his caucus, there was more uncertainty surrounding his ability to garner 218 votes out of the 247 House Republicans. After the majority party nominates a Speaker, the vote then moves to the full House floor, where Democrats were not promising to helpful.

A group of about 40 right-leaning Republicans known as the House Freedom Caucus openly expressed reservations about McCarthy’s ascension to the Speakership and announced their support of Webster Wednesday, the day before the party nomination vote.

Without the support of the most conservative members of his own caucus, McCarthy faced a chance to be embarrassed on the House floor by not receiving the 218 votes necessary to have a true majority.

McCarthy saw what many thought was a meteoric rise within House Republican leadership. Sworn-in in 2007, McCarthy has been a Member of Congress for fewer than nine years. He became a member of leadership just two years into his tenure, becoming Republican Chief Deputy Whip in 2009, before then serving as Majority Whip in 2011, after the Republican surge of 2010, and then Majority Leader in 2011 after the defeat of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary election.

After the delayed vote, Speaker Boehner announced he would remain Speaker until the party can coalesce around a new candidate. McCarthy announced he will remain Majority Leader.

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