WATCH LIVE: The House votes on the fate of Speaker McCarthy in peril

McCarthy is set to replace Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but he goes into Tuesday’s vote with no guarantee of success.

WASHINGTON – The new Congress will open with the Republican leader of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy Reaching for his political survival, with the potential to become one first nomination for a speaker in 100 years failing to garner initial support from his own peers in a high-level vote for the Hammer.

McCarthy arrived on Capitol Hill vowing to fight to the end – and to stay away from a public spectacle that would underscore divisions in his party and weaken its leadership in the first days of the new Congress.

“We came out with a commitment to the American public to fight for them, not a few members,” McCarthy said as he attended a closed morning meeting of House Republicans who lashed out at critics.

Lawmakers meet at lunchtime in a new era of divided government, as Democrats cede control of the House afterward midterm election Losses. While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, House Republicans are anxious to stand President Joe Biden’s agenda after two years of power monopoly of the Democratic Party in Washington.

But first, House Republicans must elect a speakersecond consecutive presidency.

McCarthy is slated to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but he’s going into the vote with no guarantee of success. In his own ranks he is confronted with persistent critics. Despite attempts to flatter, preach and win her over – even with the support of former President Donald Trump – McCarthy has failed.

“That’s a lot more important than, say, a person,” said Doug Heye, a former senior adviser to the Republican leadership. “It’s about whether the Republicans can govern.”

TIED TOGETHER: What happens if Kevin McCarthy doesn’t get enough votes to become a speaker?

House Republicans huddled behind closed doors for ground action as newly elected lawmakers arrived for a traditionally celebratory day. With families in tow, members of the new Congress are preparing to be sworn into the House and Senate for the start of the two-year term.

A new generation of Republicans close to Trump is leading the opposition to McCarthy, inspired by the former president’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” They don’t think McCarthy is conservative enough or tough enough to fight the Democrats. It commemorates the last time Republicans regained control of the House after the 2010 midterms, when the Tea Party class ushered in a new era of hardball politics and eventually sent Speaker John Boehner into early retirement.

Normally, it takes a majority of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 218 votes, to become Speaker. With just a slim majority of 222 seats, McCarthy can only afford a handful of critics. A speaker like Pelosi and Boehner can win by fewer than 218 votes if some lawmakers are absent or simply vote present.

But McCarthy, despite weeks of behind-closed-doors meetings and promised Home Rule changes, has failed to attract a core — and potentially growing — group of right-flank Republicans led by the conservative Freedom Caucus. Nearly a dozen Republicans have publicly expressed concerns about McCarthy.

“Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have the 218 votes to become Speaker,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chair of the Freedom Caucus and a leader in Trump’s effort to contest the 2020 election, said in an interview with The Associated Press You. “Unless something changes dramatically, we’ll be there.”

Late Monday night, McCarthy met with Perry in the Capitol Speaker’s office, a Republican adviser confirmed on condition of anonymity, to discuss the private session.

But there seemed to be no solution.

Perry said in a statement early Tuesday: “Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to be speaker of the House of Representatives. He rejected her.”

But the prospect of holdouts wreaking havoc on Day One has sparked a counteroffensive from Republicans, frustrated that critics are threatening the work of the new Congress.

A sizeable but less vocal group of McCarthy supporters launched their own “Only Kevin” campaign to eliminate the opposition and pledge their support only to him.

A viable challenger for McCarthy had yet to emerge. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a former leader of the Freedom Caucus, ran against McCarthy as a conservative option but was not expected to receive a majority. McCarthy defeated him in the nominating contest in November, 188-31.

Second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana would be an obvious next pick, a conservative well-liked by his peers and considered a hero by some after surviving a brutal mass shooting during a baseball game in Congress in 2017 .

Once rivals, McCarthy and Scalise have become a team. Scalise’s office on Monday dismissed as “false” a suggestion by another Republican that Scalise was making calls about the speaker’s race.

McCarthy vowed to fight to the end and complete several rounds of careful voting — a sight unprecedented in Congress since the controversial orator race of 1923.

“It would be nice if we were ready to go on Jan. 3,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is set to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “But you know, if it doesn’t happen on the first ballot, it just pushes things back.”

Without a speaker, the House of Representatives cannot fully form — it can name its committee chairs, participate in ground trials, and initiate the Biden administration investigations that are expected to form the core of the Republican agenda.

The uproar in the House of Representatives on the first day of the new session could be in stark contrast to the other side of the Capitol, where Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell will officially become the longest-serving party leader of the chamber in history.

Despite being in the minority in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority, McConnell could prove a viable partner as Biden seeks bipartisan victories in the new era of divided government. That Two men were expected to appear together later in the week in the GOP leader’s home state of Kentucky to celebrate the federal infrastructure investment in a vital bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio.

McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker should have been almost certain. Kind and approachable, he led his party into the majority after raising millions of campaign dollars and touring the country recruiting many of the newer lawmakers to office.

McCarthy has been here before, however, abruptly dropping out of the running for the speaker in 2015 when it was clear he had no Conservative support to replace Boehner.

A key demand from the holdouts this time is that McCarthy reintroduce a rule allowing each individual lawmaker to file a “motion to vacate the presidency” — in short, to hold a vote to impeach the speaker.

Pelosi removed the rule after conservatives used it to threaten Boehner’s ouster, but McCarthy agreed to add it back — but with a higher threshold requiring at least five lawmakers to sign off on the motion.

“I will work with everyone in our party to build a conservative consensus,” McCarthy wrote in a weekend letter to his colleagues.

As McCarthy called a New Year’s Day conference call with Republican lawmakers to unveil the new House Rules package, Perry sent a new letter of concern, signed by eight other Republicans, that the changes didn’t go far enough. WATCH LIVE: The House votes on the fate of Speaker McCarthy in peril

Laura Coffey

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