McCarthy says he would return as House speaker: ‘Whatever the conference wants, I will do’

Politics

Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitol on border security, government funding and other issues on Sept. 29, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he was open to becoming speaker of the House again, less than a week after he was ousted from the role.

A handful of hardline Republicans in the House of Representatives last week accomplished the unprecedented feat of voting out the sitting speaker. McCarthy on Tuesday after the vote said he would not run again for the role that took him a historic 15 rounds of votes to obtain in January, throwing the House Republican conference into a tailspin without an obvious leader.

McCarthy changed his tune Monday in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, saying, “Whatever the conference wants, I will do.”

“Look, the conference has to make that decision,” McCarthy told Hewitt when asked if he would step up if the party was deadlocked.

Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., the majority leader, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Judiciary Committee chair, have both expressed interest in the position but neither at this point is a sure choice.

The House is extremely limited without an elected speaker. Congress is already feeling pressure to replace McCarthy with just over a month before the government runs out of funding. That urgency only grew over the weekend for some members after militant group Hamas attacked Israel.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., a supporter of McCarthy, said there is support in the caucus for McCarthy to lead again.

“People are disgusted by what happened. It shouldn’t have happened. And I believe a good portion of the conference believes Kevin McCarthy should continue to be speaker,” Lawler said.

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