With opposition against Kevin McCarthy within his own party solidifying, it’s looking increasingly likely that there may be a bitter floor fight for the speakership in January.
As a result, three key committee chair assignments have been delayed: Ways and Means, Homeland Security, and Budget.
The uncertainty, however, extends far beyond that, as the moving of committee members always causes a ripple effect, with vacancies opening up on other committees.
For instance, the Ways and Means Committee alone usually has a couple dozen members assigned by the party in power, since it regulates tax policy and is considered a plum assignment.
With many Republicans vying for positions on it, it essentially makes it so that other committees can’t tell for sure what they’ll look like once assignments are done being made.
Right now McCarthy and the Republican Steering Committee are holding off on making any decisions while he tries to secure enough support.
This delay potentially gives him some leverage to horse trade later.
He’s already shown a willingness to do so.
In November, McCarthy received the endorsement of Marjorie Taylor Greene after assuring her that he would reassign her to committees.
Greene had been relieved of her committee positions by a full House vote in February of 2021 for her trafficking in conspiracy theories and her amplification of racist and bigoted beliefs.
But McCarthy needed an ally, so she’s back. “[T]o please the base, he’s going to give me a lot of power and a lot of leeway,” MTG boasted to the New York Times.
He may also reassign Paul Gosar, who signaled support for Donald Trump’s notion of scrapping the Constitution in a since-deleted tweet.
Kevin McCarthy wants to kick me off the Intelligence Committee and put Paul Gosar back on his committees. Paul Gosar wants to terminate the Constitution. pic.twitter.com/fXcDCxxezT
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) December 7, 2022
It’s feared that McCarthy could make various Faustian bargains to ensure the speakership.
So far, though, he still faces serious opposition, especially from the House Freedom Caucus – forty ultraconservative, hardline members who largely align with coup perpetrator Donald Trump, currently a Florida retiree.
Among them is Andy Biggs of Arizona, who mounted a challenge to McCarthy in November and has now announced that he will run against him again in January.
I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment.
Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.https://t.co/tKLPXUxSOA
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 6, 2022
Tonight Kevin McCarthy had dinner with Hunter Biden at a state dinner with Macron to rally support for more US aid to Ukraine.
He should not be Speaker.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 2, 2022
Republican members in the Senate are also concerned about the disorganization of their fellow GOPers in the House.
As initially reported by The Hill, they fear that if they try to kick current spending measures down the road, they may find those measures drowning in a House that’s leadership is struggling to move things along.
McCarthy has maintained that he is not worried, yet he admitted to Fox that the opposition he’s facing is “delaying our ability to govern as we go.”
1) GOP VA Rep Good: We just can't have a Speaker that doesn't, that does not represent the conservative center of the conference. That doesn't represent the majority of the voters who sent us to Washington. It's clear Kevin McCarthy doesn't have 218 He's not going to have 218.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 8, 2022
The Republican leader’s inability to hold his party together appears in stark contrast to Nancy Pelosi who, despite having some significant and legitimate disagreements among her caucus, was consistently able to unite them to pass important legislation and to thwart the efforts of Trump.
Even if McCarthy does seize the gavel, it’s likely he’ll have to wield it against the wolves in his own pack.
Kevin may find himself home alone in the House, but you can find yourself in good company by joining Ross on Twitter. He needs you! @RossRosenfeld