Former President Donald Trump called upon all Republicans to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the next Speaker of the House.
The lawmaker fell short of the 218 votes necessary to gain control of the gavel in three separate ballots during the first meeting of the new Congress on Tuesday. Defectors in the Republican caucus began to rally around Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as a potential alternative, while Democrats supported House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
Trump had previously endorsed McCarthy to lead the House Republicans. During an interview on Tuesday with NBC News correspondent Garrett Haake, the former commander-in-chief was non-committal. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’ll see how it all works out.”
Trump, however, shared another endorsement of McCarthy on Truth Social on Wednesday morning, appearing to indicate that he spoke to holdouts on Tuesday evening.
“Some really good conversations took place last night,” he posted, “and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY & WATCH CRAZY NANCY PELOSI FLY BACK HOME TO A VERY BROKEN CALIFORNIA, THE ONLY SPEAKER IN U.S. HISTORY TO HAVE LOST THE ‘HOUSE’ TWICE!”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has been the top Democrat in the chamber for two decades, will not seek re-election to the top position as she completes her next two-year term. She had control of the gavel from 2007 to 2011 under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, assuming the position again in 2019 after Democrats regained control of the chamber under Trump.
“REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT,” the statement from Trump added. “Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!”
Republicans currently maintain a razor-thin majority in the House following a lackluster performance in the recent midterm elections, which also resulted in Democrats keeping control of the Senate. McCarthy, who announced his bid for the gavel one day after the midterms, soon faced calls from a handful of House Republicans on matters such as only introducing single-issue bills and making serious efforts to limit federal expenditures.
Holdouts from the Tuesday votes included Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK), Rep. Mike Cloud (R-TX), Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), and Rep. Keith Self (R-TX).
McCarthy seems to have anticipated challenges from conservatives; he vowed in the letter announcing his candidacy that he would be a “listener every bit as much as a Speaker, striving to build consensus from the bottom-up rather than commanding the agenda from the top-down.” Demands from conservative holdouts include Republican leaders refraining from involvement in primary elections, ensuring greater representation of conservative-leaning members on important committees, and prioritizing holding “weaponized” agencies accountable.