Hard-line Republicans lay out Speaker demands amid McCarthy opposition


A group of seven hard-line conservative House Republicans who have withheld support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) bid for Speaker laid out a list of demands for the House they expect from a Speaker.

The letter does not specifically mention McCarthy, but comes as five other House Republicans have said or strongly indicated that they will not support the GOP leader for the gavel. As Republicans head into a narrow 222 to 212 majority, the opposition has the potential to keep him from securing the gavel.

The letter sent to colleagues on Thursday came from House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) along with GOP Reps. Chip Roy (Texas), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Andrew Clyde (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Reps.-elect Eli Crane (Ariz.) and Andy Ogles (Tenn.). 

“As we form the 118th Congress, any GOP Speaker candidate must make clear he or she will advance rules, policies, and an organizational structure that will result in the values listed below,” the letter said. “The House of Representatives serves as the people’s voice in our system of government and it requires leadership to unleash its full power to check the Executive Branch, push the Senate to act, and responsibly exercise its strongest tool — the power of the purse.”

The requests in the Thursday letter include:

Restore any member’s ability to make a “Motion to Vacate the Chair” and force a vote on removing the Speaker. Former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a founding Freedom Caucus member, helped propel former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) toward retirement by making a motion to vacate the chair in 2015.

Require at least 72 hours from release of final bill text before it gets a vote on the House floor.

Bar House GOP leadership and leadership-affiliated PACs from getting involved in primaries. The McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund was active in many House primaries boosting McCarthy-friendly candidates in the 2022 cycle.

Increase the number of Freedom Caucus members in committee chairmanships and on the House Rules Committee.

Decline to raise debt ceiling without a plan to cap spending and balance the federal budget in 10 years.

Do not “return to the blind embrace of earmarks.” The practice of directing federal spending to a specific recipient or project was brought back in this Congress as “community project funding” after a decadelong ban. The House Republican Conference last month overwhelmingly voted against an internal proposal to ban the practice.

Use “must-pass” bills like the annual defense authorization bill and the farm bill as leverage to secure conservative priorities and “check the Biden administration.”

Create a “Church Committee”-style panel to target “weaponized government.” While McCarthy and House Republicans have promised extensive investigations into the Biden administration and alleged politicization of federal agencies, some, like Roy, think the plans do not go far enough.

Many of the demands were previously articulated in a House Freedom Caucus release over the summer.

Clyde issued a separate statement about his joining the letter on Thursday, indicating that the letter was not solely aimed at McCarthy.

“Leader McCarthy is a friend, and I’ve established a good working relationship with him over the past two years as the Freshman Representative to the Elected Leadership Committee. While I continue my consideration of who I will vote for, the items presented are simply what I expect and require for anyone seeking the responsibility of serving as Speaker — as accountability of the Speaker to the membership is paramount,” Clyde said.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are split on whether to support McCarthy. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus co-founder who is set to chair the House Judiciary Committee, is fully supporting McCarthy. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has also emerged as one of McCarthy’s most vocal supporters, warning that any alternative could be less friendly to hard-line conservatives.

The lawmakers who signed on to the latest letter are separate from the five who have been more vocal that they will not support McCarthy for Speaker in a Jan. 3 floor vote: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.) and Bob Good (Va.).

The Thursday letter follows other “Dear Colleague” letters in recent days from McCarthy defenders from the Republican Governance Group, a caucus of more center-leaning members formerly known as the Tuesday Group, and the Main Street Caucus, a group of pragmatic governance-minded Republicans. The former group urged McCarthy skeptics to “put posturing aside.”

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