House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy made a major concession to critics of his bid for the House speakership during private conversations this week: lowering the threshold that would force a floor vote to oust a sitting speaker, according to six Republican sources. Internal discussions.
McCarthy has been Trying to find a compromise threshold That would be enough to win speaker votes from his critics, while palatable to the rest of the House GOP, and has been ringing all corners of the conference in private phone calls this week.
One of the numbers that came up in recent conversations between McCarthy and GOP lawmakers — and it was previously undisclosed — was the five-person limit, according to two Republican sources.
Currently, a majority of the House GOP must call for a motion known as a motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair. But some conservative hardliners insist that a single member call for such a vote, which they see as an important mechanism to hold the speaker accountable.
However, a five-person threshold may be too low for the moderate wing of the party, some of whom have privately suggested they would be willing to agree to a 50-person threshold.
Some of McCarthy’s fiercest critics, including Reps. Matt Gates of Florida and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, told CNN that the five-person limit is still too high, underscoring the significant challenge McCarthy faces in the task of blocking the speakership.
“No, less than 5!!” Norman said in a text message of the proposed motion to vacate the threshold. “2 or less (in my opinion).”
Gates said: “He’s got to get down to 1.”
All of that will be a major topic of discussion during an important Friday afternoon conference call McCarthy has scheduled with various ideological caucuses in the House GOP, four days ahead of the Jan. 3 speaker vote.
A compromise on the resignation motion — which McCarthy previously said he would not budge on — could be key to unlocking the votes he needs to win the speakership. His willingness to negotiate on the issue also shows how desperate McCarthy is to seal the deal, even if he gives up some of his power.
Still, there are other challenges. McCarthy, for example, wants a pledge from holdouts to vote for him as speaker if he agrees to a motion to vacate, but his critics want an iron-clad commitment before giving him their support.
“The ‘devil is in the details’ as far as thresholds and other rule concessions go,” Norman said. “Until the details are spelled out, sealed in writing and with social media posts, people won’t move votes.”