There is going to be a race for Speaker of the House, Breitbart News has learned, and current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will not be a shoo-in to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner.
While McCarthy is still the odds-on favorite to win, he is likely to face a serious and credible challenge from a conservative who can beat him, Breitbart News has learned. If McCarthy is going to end up with the speakership after this long and protracted battle, he is going to need to make serious concessions to the conservative side of the House GOP conference. But as conservatives mobilize and organize, they have proven now that they have the power to deny anyone the speakership–and could blow up McCarthy’s move if he doesn’t cooperate with them and shift the power to someone more palatable.
Everything is still volatile and there are so many variables in play that anything can happen, and the current chaos and uncertainty in the House conference probably benefits McCarthy more than anyone. But there’s going to be a fight for the soul of the GOP, and conservatives view it as a healthy process as Republicans in Congress struggle with what’s happening on the presidential campaign trail as three political outsiders who have never held political office–billionaire Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina –top the polls along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a consummate political outsider.
Even establishment Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an avid supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens who’s worked with Democrats to push those policies, have had to embrace the anti-establishment rhetoric even though Rubio is someone who — until Boehner announced his resignation –supported the Speaker.
“Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning,” Rubio said in his speech to the Values Voter Summit on Friday to thunderous applause. Despite the fact Rubio backed Boehner until the end, and currently backs Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s continued leadership of that conference, he called for Republicans to “turn the page.”
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), a conservative who previously challenged Boehner, has announced he is running against McCarthy. But another conservative with even more juice in the GOP conference—someone with enough credibility to beat McCarthy—is waiting in the wings and seems to be taking the temperature of the conference to see if Republicans will coalesce behind an entirely fresh, new leadership team.
“This is not about me. This is about understanding the importance of this historic moment—the resignation of a speaker due to internal party divisions—and making sure we empower our conference and leaders to fix the mistakes that got us here,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), a conservative and former member of House GOP leadership, told Breitbart News on Saturday.
In a previous statement on Friday, Roskam told Breitbart News he supports fresh leadership in the House of Representatives—leadership that will put a completely new face on the Republican Party amid a series of failures by Boehner and everyone around Boehner.
“I’m for somebody who can bridge the divide in our Conference,” Roskam said. “If we don’t have a plan to get us out of this dysfunction, reshuffling the deck won’t make anything better. I’m going to work hard to make sure we get the leadership we need, not just settle on the fastest, easiest choice.”
Breitbart News has also confirmed from House Freedom Caucus member Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), that conservatives in Congress plan to bloc-vote together to ensure that candidates they do not approve do not get the Speakership. As they have already proven ahead of Boehner’s departure, conservatives have the numbers necessary to deny anyone the Speakership—even if they don’t have the numbers to elect a full-blown conservative to the Speakership. So, Fleming told Breitbart News in an interview on Friday evening in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., at the Values Voter Summit, that conservatives are certainly planning to exert that influence they have over this process.
“People are already jockeying for positions,” Fleming said. “My understanding is Kevin McCarthy is going to be in the run for the Speakership. And there are people looking at his position, I think. We in the Freedom Caucus, I think, are probably going to hold together as a block and we’ll want to know what their plan to lead is and we’ll also want to know how they’ll incorporate conservative voices and personalities and not just promise things and return to the same old process we’ve seen for years. We don’t want to see the deck chairs being shifted around. We want something really new out of our leadership.”
Roskam is not at this time declaring his candidacy for the Speakership. But he is certainly hinting that he’s looking at it, and that he thinks it’s time for a new direction for Republicans in Congress. Some other folks in the House conference may run too, or decide to run after currently not running, now that the air of inevitably around McCarthy is crumbling.
Roskam is, as of Saturday morning, circulating a letter to his GOP colleagues on the hill calling for serious consideration of this process before members work to elect somebody quickly.
“We’ve just witnessed one of the most remarkable political developments in American history. Our Speaker just stepped down in the middle of a session,” Roskam’s letter, currently in circulation, reads. “Before we rush headlong into leadership elections, we need to take time to reflect on what has happened and have a serious discussion about why we’re here serving, what we expect of our leaders, and how we plan to accomplish our goals. In this environment, I am not announcing a run for any leadership position because I currently don’t believe our Conference or our leadership can be successful until we confront the underlying issues that have led to this moment.”
Roskam is calling in the letter for an “extended special Conference meeting” so members can discuss the ramifications of what just happened, and how to actually start representing Americans in government again.
“I hope you’ll join me in calling for an extended special Conference meeting,” Roskam’s letter continues. “Healing our divisions and uniting behind the conservative policy solutions the American people deserve will help our members and it will empower the new leaders we select.”
The letter from Roskam is addressed to current House GOP conference chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). She would need to call such a special conference meeting unless 50 members band together to do it—which allows them to call such a meeting without her sign off. A spokesman for Roskam tells Breitbart News that there are already more than half of the signers necessary to call the special conference without McMorris Rodgers’ sign off, and he expects that “we’ll definitely get there” to at least 50 signers—maybe even by later on Saturday. Roskam’s spokesman added that once they get to 50 signers, Roskam will be pushing for every member of Congress to sign this letter because he believes there needs to an open process and a conference-wide debate rather than just a bandaid covering an open scab that’s sure to rip open these wounds again soon. It’s time for the party and the House of Representatives to heal, rather than just cover this up again, he believes—and he thinks every member of Congress needs to be a part of that.
McCarthy’s team may push to hold elections for the speakership as early as next week, too—and that’s just not appropriate, these conservatives believe, because they believe that the historic fall of Boehner which follows the historic fall of now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last year is a sign from the American people that they want a fresh leadership team and a new discussion about which direction the country should be headed.
If conservatives hold together as they’ve done with regards to Boehner, they may be able to muscle a McCarthy alternative into the Speakership. Or, at the very least, conservatives can absolutely force serious concessions out of McCarthy if he wants to get the job. Fleming, an influential conservative in the Freedom Caucus which is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), said he envisions a kind of coalition government between moderates and conservatives in the future where conservative members aren’t shunned like Boehner used to do.
“We could also change the rules,” Fleming said. “We might not change them now, but we could get promises to change them in a year when we reorganize. Also, a commitment to return to regular order. It was promised to us by the Speaker and he did it for a while and tried, but then we were back to things being made in deals behind closed doors. It’s as much about the process as it is about conservatism. I really think that moderates and even Democrats will like a Speakership in which more people have more voice, have more say, through amendments, through votes, and you know sometimes we’ll have to take some tough votes. But we’d rather that than have something fully baked with show votes.”
Fleming said if regular order were followed—especially when it comes to spending bills, and whether the government is funded by Continuing Resolutions or omnibus spending bills or by the way it’s supposed to be done via 12 separate Appropriations bills—it would be a lot easier for Congress to re-assert its power of the purse against the executive branch.
“Absolutely—no question about it,” Fleming said when asked if it’s easier to defund things like Obamacare or Planned Parenthood or executive amnesty when regular order is followed. “In fact, we have already completely wiped out Title X funding in our appropriations which would include Planned Parenthood. Appropriations as you know are not going any place—they’re not being taken up by the Senate. Well, why not? We control the Senate. They say well we have the filibuster rule. Well, do away with the filibuster rule. We need to shake things up and get government working once again.”
Fleming added that as this process for the speakership plays out, the House Freedom Caucus is going to stick together and influence it for the better as much as possible.
“The Freedom Caucus is really going to try to function as a block, a voting block,” Fleming said. “We’re going to be listening to all the candidates and we’re going to be very carefully watching them. We’re not going to be making any commitments to any individuals. In fact, we’ll probably invite other conservative members who are not in the Freedom Caucus to work with us and we will likely be able to enlarge that voting block.”