As many as 80 conservative Republicans will meet with and vet candidates for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, four separate private groups of members announced on Thursday.
From 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. next Tuesday evening, the Conservative Opportunity Society, House Freedom Caucus, House Tea Party Caucus, and House Liberty Caucus will join forces to hold a members-only meeting after votes to vet the two different candidates for Speaker of the House.
The two candidates for Speaker are current House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), a reformer who served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and ran, nearly successfully, against outgoing House Speaker John Boehner at the beginning of this Congress.
A high-ranking congressional source tells Breitbart News that as many as 80 members may attend the meeting over the four separate groups, a sign of the strength conservatives have in this process.
McCarthy, a fast-rising member of Boehner’s leadership team, must convince these conservatives, emboldened by Boehner’s resignation, that he represents a vision for the future of the GOP and that he won’t sell out Republicans as Boehner has repeatedly done. It’s a tricky path for McCarthy to navigate, and he’s been working overtime in recent days with member meetings and more trying to shore up his support among this conservative wing of the party and on the other, more liberal—or moderate as they’d like to say—wing of the GOP conference.
“Next week after votes on Tuesday, the candidates for Speaker are invited to attend and address the Members of the various conservative groups regarding their candidacy and vision for the House in advancing a conservative agenda while creating an inclusive environment,” the invitation to members of the four separate groups, obtained by Breitbart News, reads. “Speaker candidates will be recognized for a brief opening statement and then respond to questions from Members.”
Webster is running as a reformer, someone who would return the House of Representatives to regular order by having a “principles-based” system rather than a “power-based” system.
“I have one desire: That is to have a principle-based, member-driven Congress. Period. That’s what I want,” Webster said in a recent exclusive interview with Breitbart News.
Really, right now, the default of every legislative body I’ve been to—and I’ve been to a lot of them—is a power-based system as opposed to principle-based. That works too, you can do it that way where a few people at the top of the pyramid make all of the decisions. We’d rather see a flattened down pyramid of power and spread out the base so every member has an opportunity to be successful.
McCarthy, meanwhile, has the support of conservative billionaire and GOP donor Foster Friess, who wrote an email message supporting McCarthy.
“He seems to be a real upbeat guy in all my interactions with him,” Friess said, adding that Americans should support McCarthy’s efforts to unite Republicans who have been deeply divided under Boehner’s lack of leadership.
“We all need to support his efforts to bring Tea Party and Establishment wings of Republicans together and to embrace Democrats that want America to remain the shining city on a hill,” Friess said. “I don’t know all his past positions or votes, but I like the guy.”
McCarthy has appeared on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, and is supposed to be sitting down with Breitbart News soon, to discuss his bid for the Speakership. McCarthy has shown at least some initial signs of more willingness to work with conservatives and with Republicans conference-wide than Boehner.
Even so, a few of the expectations conservatives are likely to have for him include whether he can end the sort of crisis-to-crisis governance Boehner engaged in, whether he’ll promise to never allow an amnesty bill on the floor of the House under his Speakership, adn how he plans to bring conservatives into the leadership team rather than just some reshuffling of Boehner’s deck.
The members who run the four conservative wings of the House GOP conference coming together on the speakership vote are going to be in extraordinarily powerful positions here too. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) runs the Conservative Opportunity Society, which worked with the other groups to organize this meeting with McCarthy and Webster, while Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) runs the Freedom Caucus. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) runs the Liberty Caucus and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) runs the Tea Party Caucus.
Among the four groups, as an organized bloc, these conservatives will be able to extract major concessions out of anyone running for Speaker of the House even though they don’t have enough votes to elect a conservative Speaker. That’s because they do in fact have enough votes to deny anyone the Speakership. Tea Party Patriots, a grassroots conservative group, is urging the conservatives to stand together and show their muscle in these leadership elections.
“It’s time for new, bold leadership in Washington,” Tea Party Patriots said in an email blast to grassroots conservatives in their latest call to action.
It’s an uphill battle in a system that is rigged to benefit the powerful. But there is a window of opportunity here. There’s a band of conservatives in the House that has the ability to completely block McCarthy from getting the Speakership. THEY MUST STAND FIRM. They must not let the victory of Boehner’s departure be squandered. They must show the current powers to be that they are willing to block McCarthy on the House floor when leadership positions come up for a vote. Then they must fight for a true conservative to become the next Speaker.