House Democratic Whip Marjorie Taylor Greene is not backing Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to become speaker, saying the California Republican does not have the full support of Democrats in the House.
In a statement emailed Thursday, Greene did not specify who exactly she has in her corner.
“I don’t endorse candidates in elections, but I do support my members as their colleagues,” she said. “After days of closed-door discussions, I cannot determine with certainty who will not join me on the Republican side of the aisle and who will. I’ve said all along: We have a responsible Republican majority – it’s time for Democrats to work with us. Our country is stronger when Republicans and Democrats work together.”
This comes after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office called on McCarthy to disavow the House Freedom Caucus, a small wing of conservatives who are willing to provide the votes necessary to stop McCarthy from becoming speaker if they do not like his leadership style.
In the wake of another bruising election in which members rebelled against his leadership and the party suffered its worst midterm election results in a generation, McCarthy this week began trying to build a new power base in the House GOP caucus.
A leading target for that effort is McCarthy’s challenge to Pelosi, the California Democrat, as speaker. McCarthy has worked for months with GOP members to set up a competing to the Democratic leadership post. As McCarthy works toward lining up support from his fellow GOP members, he has worked with McCarthy supporters to suppress the influence of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
If McCarthy does eventually take the speaker’s gavel, it would likely entail a prolonged battle with the Freedom Caucus, which is confident that, when the time comes, it will have the votes needed to scuttle McCarthy’s ascension.
“He’s not supported by us,” Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Wednesday. “If he becomes Speaker of the House, that’s going to be a difficult process.”
Those comments stood in contrast to the inescapable task McCarthy faces to secure the support of House Republicans, as he tries to rally them behind his bid for speaker.
“If we get no action from the Freedom Caucus, then I believe the majority is with Kevin McCarthy,” House GOP Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said Wednesday.
Democrats take the floor next week, just two days after the lame-duck session ends, in what will almost certainly be a bitter contest among members of their own party. But when it comes to the incoming speaker, Democrats have no candidate, and McCarthy and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., appear to be the two clear frontrunners in a group of several competing candidates.
Democrats left a meeting on Thursday morning saying that both Hoyer and McCarthy showed no signs of backing down. The candidates were present for the session, along with Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., who is expected to become the No. 3 House Republican behind McCarthy and Hoyer.
“I think right now it’s pretty clear that there are two of us in line,” Hoyer said in response to a question on whether he has the votes to take the gavel in January.
And in an interview, McCarthy said he is prepared to run against Hoyer, both if and when the majority leader pulls out.
“I am ready to serve,” McCarthy said. “There are two Republicans that are in the race. If that is (Hoyer), then I will not stand here. If that is an agreement with Steny Hoyer, there is an agreement, I’m ready to support Steny Hoyer.”