IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

McCarthy struggles to get GOP’s unruly kids in line for speaker vote

Kevin McCarthy is in peak angry parent mode, pleading with his right-wing caucus to straighten up and name him House speaker or risk the consequences.


With Republicans set to retake the House majority in January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s quest to be named House speaker is hitting some bumps in the road, thanks to his chaotic right-wing caucus. It’s throwing a wrench into the California representative’s plans, with his website getting ahead of its skis in christening him the “speaker-elect.”

As NBC News reported, McCarthy is struggling to secure the 218 votes needed to be elected speaker, thanks to the GOP’s marginal advantage over Democrats in the House and, importantly, some archconservative holdouts who want an even more conservative speaker than McCarthy. 

Metaphorically speaking, the minority leader is driving a car full of unruly GOPers sniping at him and one another from the back seat. And making it all the worse is that McCarthy is unsteady at the wheel and even offering to let some of the kids do the driving

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, though, McCarthy soberly alluded to the stakes if fellow GOPers don’t fall in line: a Democratic House speaker.

“I believe we’ll get to 218,” he said. “Why? ’Cause if we don’t, none of those investigations go forward, none of the work that we have put before us. We can’t start investigating [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas, we can’t secure the border, we can’t lower the gasoline price by making us energy-independent.”

He continued: “We can’t [hold the government] accountable, we can’t pass a parents’ bill of rights. All of that will stop. The subpoenas can’t move out until you elect a speaker."

Setting aside for a moment that the GOP’s investigative agenda is motivated by conspiracy theories — and that dubious claim about lowering gas prices — this was McCarthy in angry parent mode. It was like seeing him crane his neck to the children in the back seat and snap at them, “If you don’t do what I say, this car is turning around and going back to where we came from!”

That is, a place without subpoena power. 

The threat of a Democrat’s becoming House speaker may be enough to whip enough Republicans back under McCarthy’s control. That’s yet to be determined. But it’s just as likely that McCarthy’s failure to keep GOP extremists in line means he has “raised” a crop of House Republicans too rambunctious for their own good.