Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) may be the presumptive favorite to attain the Speaker’s gavel in the coming days, but to get there he’ll need to assuage concerns from at least 10 House Republicans who believe the caucus has picked a “status quo” facsimile of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The formidable whip operation for Rep. Scalise is seeking to shore up support within a faction of critics who are threatening to withhold support on the floor when the entire House votes for its next Speaker. With Democrats virtually guaranteed to unanimously oppose any Republican nominee, the GOP caucus can only afford to lose four votes in order to appoint the chamber’s next leader. That has put a handful of Republicans in a powerful position to exact concessions from Scalise.
- Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Bob Good (R-VA), who each said Scalise is a continuation of the “status quo”;
- Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), who cited a need for new leadership;
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who raised concerns about Scalise’s health;
- Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who said Scalise “has not articulated a viable plan for avoiding an omnibus”;
- Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who said he was unhappy with Scalise’s effort to defeat an internal election rules change;
- Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who raised concerns about Scalise’s 2002 appearance at a meeting of a white supremacist group;
- Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), who said he’s voting for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy until McCarthy explicitly tells him otherwise;
- Plus several other members — including Barry Moore (R-AL), Victoria Spartz (R-IN) and Troy Nehls (R-TX) — who have not outlined specific objections.
Republican leadership, or what remains of it, is looking to avoid an embarrassing repeat of the 15-round fight that Rep. McCarthy went through in January which saw intra-party divisions play out openly as the California Republican made concession after concession in order to secure the votes he needed.
This time around, however, Rep. Scalise can count on the support of McCarthy’s number one detractor: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has signaled his full support for the nomination, telling onlookers “Long live Speaker Scalise!” just minutes after Republicans largely coalesced behind him on Wednesday.