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McCarthy committed to a key concession in a conversation with frustrated House Republicans

McCarthy committed to a key concession in a conversation with frustrated House Republicans

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House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy outlined some of the concessions he agreed to his campaign for speaker on a conference call Sunday night — including making it easier to take down the speaker, according to multiple GOP sources on the call. But McCarthy couldn’t say whether he would have the votes for the presidency, even after giving in to some of the right’s toughest demands.

The California Republican told members that after weeks of negotiations, he had agreed to a threshold of five people to trigger a vote to remove the speaker at any time, known as a “motion to vacate” the speaker’s chair, and proposed as “compromise”. CNN first reported last week that he supported that threshold.

But there is still uncertainty as to whether that will be enough to grab McCarthy’s gavel.

Some moderates — who fear the exit proposal will be used as a permanent stick over McCarthy’s head — pushed back and expressed frustration during the call, sources said.

Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota said he was unhappy with the low threshold McCarthy agreed to, although he indicated he would swallow it, but only if it helped McCarthy win the speakership. Other members made it clear that the package of rules that had been agreed upon would not be considered if McCarthy’s critics ultimately rejected his bid for speaker.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida pressed McCarthy on whether this concession on the exit proposal would win him 218 votes. But he didn’t respond directly, even though McCarthy said earlier in the call that people are “slowly” moving in the right direction.

However, later in the conversation, Florida Rep. Matt Goetz — one of the five “strong no” votes for McCarthy — said they would not support McCarthy, despite all the concessions.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida then repeated Diaz-Balart’s question, asking McCarthy to respond. McCarthy’s response, according to sources, is that they have a few days to close the deal and need to close it.

New York Rep. Mike Lawler asked Goetz if he would support McCarthy if he agreed to reduce the threshold exemption proposal to one lawmaker, as he had before Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., changed the rules. Goetz replied that McCarthy had refused to entertain the idea, but if he was making the offer now, then he would consider it.

McCarthy said he disagreed with Gaetz’s characterization, arguing that the rest of the conference can’t keep the bar as low as one man. “It’s not about me,” the California Republican said. However, he asked Gaetz if he could get to a yes if McCarthy came down to one person’s doorstep, which Gaetz has not yet committed to, and said if it was a genuine offer, he would take it.

House Republicans plan to release their final package of rules, which would formalize a number of those concessions, later Sunday night. But sources warned that nothing is truly final until the package is accepted.

After the House elects a speaker and swears in members, lawmakers vote on the set of rules that govern how the House operates.

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