Jan 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Comer "not convinced" there won't be motion to oust McCarthy as speaker

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) "needs a chance" to govern but he was "not convinced" that there would not be a motion to remove McCarthy from the speaker position throughout the 118th Congress.

Why it matters: Part of the concessions McCarthy made to Republican holdouts to break the stalemate over his campaign for speaker was reinstating the threshold for forcing a vote to oust the House Speaker to just one lawmaker.

  • The concession essentially transfers a significant amount of power from House leadership to the rank-and-file members, who may choose at any time to wield that power and force a vote to oust McCarthy if they disagree with his speakership.
  • However, it's not guaranteed any vote would succeed in removing McCarthy, though forcing the vote could cause procedural headaches for the House.

What they're saying: "Well, I’m not convinced we can go the entire Congress without having it," Comer, the presumed incoming House Oversight Committee chair, said in response to a question on whether there will be a motion to vacate during the 118th Congress.

  • "But if that’s used, I believe that right now the overwhelming majority — and when I say overwhelming majority, 218 plus Republicans realize that Kevin McCarthy needs a chance to govern, and we’re going to give him a chance," Comer added.
  • "So I’m not going to say there won’t be one person who tries to abuse that motion, but I’m confident that McCarthy’s going to be able to be given the green light to govern and to lead this conference, and do the things that we told the American people we were going to do during the midterm election."

The big picture: Around 20 Republicans either voted against McCarthy or "present" throughout 14 rounds of voting to elect speaker last week.

  • McCarthy was finally elected after a 15th round of voting on Friday night going into early Saturday, but not before reaching an agreement with, and making concessions to, more than a dozen GOP detractors that allows them to wield more power in the new Congress.

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