SThey make up less than a tenth of all Republican lawmakers. But in the House of Representatives, a lot of power is in the hands of the twenty MPs these days, who refused to support their parliamentary group leader Kevin McCarthy in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of voting on Wednesday. Their alliance is blocking McCarthy’s election as the powerful Speaker of the House – a post he has sought for years. Because of the narrow Republican majority, however, McCarthy can only afford four dissenters in his own ranks for a win. A scenario that seemed unimaginable before the third day of the meeting on Thursday.
For weeks, McCarthy had tried to lure MPs from the group’s “America First” wing with concessions. He promised posts and changes to the Rules of Procedure such as an easier vote of no confidence in the Speaker – to no avail. In brief speeches to Congress these days, his opponents ranted about the party leadership, to which McCarthy has belonged for 14 years, about the “quagmire” in Washington that threatens the Americans, the lost contact with voters and the “broken” state of the House of Representatives . The group is united by deep distrust of the party establishment. They reject legislative compromises with the Democrats. But the fact that no concessions have so far been able to change their minds is also a sign that, in addition to the demands, the blockade itself is also at stake.
More than half of McCarthy’s critics, like Donald Trump, believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen or rigged. Most maintain close contact with the former president and had been supported by him in the congressional elections in November. But with the opposition to the faction leader, they have so far also opposed Trump: Before the second voting debacle on Wednesday, he once again called on all Republicans to elect McCarthy as speaker – without success.
Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
Scott Perry is the leader of the Freedom Caucus, the right-wing Republican faction in which most oppose McCarthy. Before the first vote, the Pennsylvania congressman tweeted that he was “determined to change the status quo no matter how many rounds of voting it takes.” After four failed rounds of voting, Perry appeared before the plenum on Wednesday, visibly agitated, denouncing the alleged failures of the Biden administration and Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as that of Congress in general. “The Americans are fed up with that,” Perry exclaimed, repeatedly interrupted by heckling.
The 60-year-old congressman’s name appeared a total of 22 times in the final report of the congressional committee on the storming of the Capitol in December. Perry was a close associate of Trump in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election result. The panel therefore recommends an investigation by the ethics committee — as it did in the case of Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Andy Biggs of Arizona, who are on the anti-McCarthy front. Perry was involved in an attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as Trump’s acting Attorney General. He was then supposed to initiate an investigation into electoral fraud, even though it was clear to everyone involved at the time that there had been no electoral fraud.
Matt Gaetz from Florida
If you want to drain the swamp, the Florida congressman said on the first day of the new Congress, you can’t leave it to the alligator. McCarthy’s positions changed “like quicksand”. Gaetz has been one of the leaders of the revolt against the faction leader since the beginning. The forty-year-old insists again and again that this is not about personal sensitivities. But a move on the evening of the first day of voting at least called that into question. Gaetz posted a letter on Twitter denouncing that McCarthy had already moved into the office of the speaker of Congress. In it he wrote: “How long will he stay there before he is considered a squatter?” After the defeat in the votes, the faction leader “can no longer be regarded as the designated spokesman”.