Time is 'running out for McCarthy' as he scrambles to appease Republicans blocking his Speakership
Kevin McCarthy (Photo by Nicholas Kamm for AFP)

On Monday, CNN reported that "time is running out" for House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as he hastily tries to wheel and deal with a gang of Republicans who are not committed to voting for him — throwing his bid to be elected Speaker of the House into even more jeopardy.

"Four days before the House speaker vote, when his critics were still noncommittal about their support for his speakership bid, even after the California Republican had offered a number of key concessions — including making it easier to oust the sitting speaker — he attempted to give them the hard sell," reported Melanie Zanona and Lauren Fox. "'If you walk away now,' McCarthy warned his detractors on a Friday afternoon conference call, 'you’re not gonna get a better rules package than this.'"

"The exchange, described by several GOP sources on the call, offers a window into McCarthy’s 11th-hour negotiating tactics in his quest for speaker. And it shows just how much he is willing to bend in order to rise to power in the US House of Representatives," said the report. "But now with just one day to go, a group of at least nine Republicans have made clear that they’re still not sold – despite McCarthy’s warning and even after he gave in to some of their most ardent demands, which he outlined during a Sunday evening conference call."

After the midterm elections produced a much narrower than expected majority for House Republicans, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes from his own caucus — assuming no Democrats cross over to back him — to obtain the 218 votes required to be elected Speaker. Five hardline pro-Trump Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), known as the "Never Kevin" group, have vowed to vote against McCarthy as a bloc. If that holds, he is already short the number of votes he needs even if he wins over every other GOP lawmaker.

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Another group of Republicans has taken to wearing pins that say "O.K." — short for "Only Kevin" — threatening the hardliners that they will deadlock the House from choosing a Speaker at all, possibly even allowing Democrats to peel off a few moderate Republicans and choose a bipartisan candidate who would hobble Republicans from exercising their new majority.

"House Republicans are poised to kick off their new majority on Tuesday without a clear sense of who their leader will be — raising the prospect of a brutal, once-in-a-century floor fight that could delay establishing committees, conducting oversight or legislating," said the report. "On Tuesday morning, the conference will gather one last time before the speaker vote, where McCarthy’s supporters are hoping for a last-minute resolution but are bracing for the worst."