White House on McCarthy Exit: New Speaker Should Be Willing to Compromise

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reacted to the surprise news that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had withdrawn from the Speaker’s race by saying a future candidate for Speaker should compromise like outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

The challenge for any new House Speaker “is managing the stark divide in the Republican conference between extreme ideologues who represent a minority but yet refuse to put the best interests of the country ahead of their own extreme ideology and the majority of House Republicans,” he said during the White House press briefing today.

Earnest declined to say whether administration officials prefer Boehner to remain Speaker, but pointed to Boehner’s support for President Obama’s trade-deal authority and also his efforts to avoid a budget dispute that could lead to a government shutdown.

During a Sept. 24 press conference after Boehner’s resignation announcement, Obama praised the Speaker’s willingness to compromise. “I think maybe most importantly, he’s somebody who understands that in government, in governance, you don’t get 100 percent of what you want, but you have to work with people who you disagree with — sometimes strongly — in order to do the people’s business,” he said.

When asked Wednesday, Oct. 7, if White House officials could work with a potential Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Earnest pointed to Boehner’s example as Speaker. “Look, there are plenty of things that Speaker Boehner has said that have — that the President has disagreed with, even strongly,” he said. “But it didn’t prevent at least a usually functioning relationship between the Speaker’s office and the White House.”


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