GOP discusses new concessions in behind-the-scenes talks on making McCarthy Speaker

Just In | The Hill 

Discussions between Republican Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and some of his 20 GOP detractors progressed on Wednesday after a sixth failed Speaker vote, pointing to more concessions from McCarthy as he aims to win over some of them ahead of the House returning at noon on Thursday.

Items discussed in the meetings, according to a source, included lowering the threshold for a motion to vacate the chair – a move to force a vote on ousting the Speaker – to one member. 

A previous concession from McCarthy in a House Rules package released over the weekend had lowered that threshold to five members, after the House GOP in November had adopted a measure requiring support from half of the conference to bring up the measure. 

The longtime request from members of the House Freedom Caucus would restore the procedural motion as it was before House Democrats took the majority, which they argue is a check on the Speaker’s power.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said Wednesday evening that negotiations also included measures related to spending.

“There was a prong in there for how are we going to end limitless spending in this town,” Roy told reporters. “We’ve got some vague notions of what we’re talking about. I’ve got some stuff here from a conversation that I gotta go figure out what it means.”

There was also discussion of increasing representation of hardline conservative members on the powerful House Rules Committee, and bringing a vote on a bill imposing term limits on members of Congress. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of the members voting against McCarthy, previously introduced legislation limiting House members to three terms and senators to two terms. 

The developments in negotiations come in addition to a McCarthy-aligned PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, committing to not spend in safe GOP open-seat primaries

Key holdouts had requested that leadership not be involved in Republican primaries, and the influential conservative Club for Growth PAC over the weekend had called on the Congressional Leadership Fund to be prohibited from spending in open Republican primaries. After the agreement, though, the Club for Growth said that it would support McCarthy for Speaker.

As of Thursday morning, however, no McCarthy holdouts had said they were moved by the talks. Lawmakers involved did not expect a breakthrough or ultimate resolution on Thursday, but said things are moving in a positive direction.

“I think tempers have cooled down,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a McCarthy ally, said Wednesday evening. “That doesn’t mean people aren’t any more galvanized, but when you can lower the temperature, you have a better chance of a positive outcome.”

Still, some of the anti-McCarthy crowd is signaling that they will never vote for him. A bloc of just five GOP members can keep him from the gavel, assuming all members vote for a candidate.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) left a meeting with McCarthy on Wednesday chastising the California Republican for portraying holdouts as demanding certain committee assignments and gavels as a condition of support. According to Gaetz, McCarthy had requested that members come up with suggestions of who would want to sit on certain committees or hold certain gavels.

“It was a bad-faith effort for McCarthy to solicit a list and then use that list in some way to try to divide our conference,” Gaetz said.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who left the meeting with Gaetz, was asked if there is anything that McCarthy can do to win her support.

She said: “No.”

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