WASHINGTON – House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy served further notice on Sunday that his potential speakership would be politically unstable, saying he would seek to keep three high-profile Democrats off certain committees.
Democrats said McCarthy would do whatever his right wing wanted him to do because he still lacked the votes for the speaker’s job.
In stumping for the position, McCarthy defeated Representatives Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., members of the House Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy and other Republicans have been saying for months that these members’ past statements and actions regarding issues such as Israel, China and Russia should be kept off these committees.
“I will keep that promise” to remove them, McCarthy told Fox News.
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Schiff and other Democrats said McCarthy is trying to court support from hard-right conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga. — who was expelled from committees during the 2021 full House vote because of inflammatory statements about Democrats.
Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week,” “I doubt he’ll do what Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do.” “He is a very weak leader of his convention, which means he will follow the wishes of the lowest common denominator. And if he wants to remove the lowest common denominator people from committees, that’s what they will do.”
McCarthy is favored to become Speaker of the House when Republicans take over the chamber next year — but it’s not a done deal yet.
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Conservative Republicans like Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida said they would oppose McCarthy. Every vote counts because the GOP majority will likely be no more than 10 seats.
“He’s struggling” to get the 218 votes needed to win the speakership, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who is expected to be the Democratic leader in the next Congress.
“Let’s see what happens on January 3rd,” Jeffries said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who is retiring from Congress and rallied behind McCarthy over his subsequent endorsement of Donald Trump, told CNN that the presumptive speaker made too many promises to Green and other hard-right conservatives. Huh.
Kinzinger said that right-wing Republicans would not be happy if McCarthy had to cut deals with Democrats to do essential business, and that he might end up as their political hostage.
“I, frankly, don’t think that’s going to last very long,” Kinzinger said. “Maybe he’ll prove me wrong. But it’s sad to see a man who I think had so much potential sell himself out so completely.”
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This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: McCarthy wants to keep 3 Democrats off committees — if he’s speaker