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Happy Tuesday morning.
Kevin Owen McCarthy will stand in front of his colleagues at 1 p.m. today for the second time in seven years, asking for their support to be speaker of the House. This comes as House Republicans all but sealed their majority in the 118th Congress as key races were called Monday night in New York, Arizona and California in favor of GOP candidates and incumbents.
In 2015, a well-organized conservative uprising derailed the less-prepared and greener McCarthy, paving the way for Paul Ryan to become speaker.
But McCarthy’s opposition today is a bit listless and disjointed as the 57-year-old California Republican tries to navigate what’s expected to be a paper-thin GOP majority to win a speaker vote. That’s set for Jan. 3, which is 49 days from now.
In reality, today’s vote is the beginning of a seven-week grind by McCarthy and his team to whittle away at any dissent to his ascension to the speaker’s chair. We’ll get into that in a minute.
Here’s how you should view today’s election:
McCarthy will win the secret-ballot election today. But he’ll fall far short of the 218 votes he needs to get on the House floor come Jan. 3. McCarthy’s critics will say this is a sign of weakness – and we understand that point of view. But McCarthy doesn’t need to reach that magic number until Jan. 3. Remember: Ryan lost 43 votes inside the Republican Conference before winning on the floor the next day. Ryan, though, had a much bigger majority than this one will be.
“Pelosi lost 32 [votes] when nobody was running” against her, McCarthy noted in an interview Monday. McCarthy was referring to the November 2018 vote inside the Democratic Caucus as Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to make a comeback after eight years in the minority.
McCarthy remains confident he will ultimately become the 53rd speaker. McCarthy downplayed the threat of Republicans blocking him on the floor. “Oh, there could be somebody, but it’s coming together.”
Team McCarthy says they believe today will be a turning point. In their view, once McCarthy formally becomes the GOP nominee for speaker, there will be a “rally-around-the-winner” movement inside the Republican Conference.
McCarthy is going to have a challenger. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) announced on Newsmax Monday night that he’ll be nominated to take McCarthy on. Biggs didn’t declare in time for the candidate forum, so McCarthy took nearly 30 minutes of questions from his GOP colleagues. Biggs took none. To be clear, Biggs is going to get the anti-McCarthy vote, but he won’t win.
“Yes, I’m going to be nominated tomorrow to the position of speaker of the House,” Biggs said.
“It’s going to be tough. Kevin [McCarthy] has raised a lot of money and done a lot of things. But this is not just about Kevin. I think it’s about institutional direction and trajectory.”
If the conservatives succeeded at anything so far, they’ve made it abundantly clear that McCarthy needs to get to the negotiating table in order to reach 218. And in McCarthy’s office, there’s a broad understanding that he’s going to have to make concessions.
For example, McCarthy seems open to expanding the Steering Committee, the panel that makes decisions about committee assignments. This is a request from the House Freedom Caucus as a way to cut into McCarthy’s power. The California Republican seems willing to cut a deal here to help conservatives feel bought into this leadership team.
You’ll hear a lot of people ask McCarthy over the next 49 days whether he has the votes to become speaker. You should ignore this question until late December or early January. It’s in conservatives’ interest to drag this process out as long as possible in order to extract concessions from McCarthy. Remember: McCarthy is exceedingly motivated to become speaker. That means he’s willing to give up a lot. Conservatives understand that and they will use that to their advantage.
Why McCarthy will win …
There’s no one else. We haven’t given too much credence to the “There’s-no-one-else” argument because conservatives truly don’t have an alternative, they just don’t want McCarthy. That being said, there actually is no other Republican at the moment who can get 218 votes.
The anti-McCarthy shtick will wear thin. At some point, there will be only a handful of Republicans standing between McCarthy and the speakership. This will be incredibly frustrating to the rest of the House GOP, which is certain to say it’s time to elect a speaker and get on with the business of governing.
McCarthy has a lot of levers to pull. The speaker has tremendous leverage. When push comes to shove, McCarthy can grant much of what conservatives want. Of course, he’ll hold out to protect his own authority. But it’s not as if McCarthy has his hands tied.
There’s real risk in letting this drag on. Consider this from Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) to NBC:
Moderate GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told NBC News on Monday night that if the GOP Conference can’t agree to elect McCarthy or any other Republican as speaker on the House floor, then he would be willing to work with Democrats to elect a moderate Republican for the top post.
“I will support Kevin McCarthy, but if we do get to that point, I do want the country to work and we need to govern. We can’t sit neutral; we can’t have total gridlock for two years,” Bacon said in an interview just off the House floor.
Bacon is saying if McCarthy twists in the wind for too long, members like him will take matters into their own hands and work with Democrats to pick a speaker. There is a very low probability of this happening. But it’s not zero.
… And why McCarthy may lose
We think McCarthy has lots of time to get to 218, and all available evidence at this point suggests he’ll probably get there. But if Republicans have 221 or 222 votes, and the conservative opposition refuses to ever back McCarthy, he doesn’t have much room to maneuver.
Remember that a small pocket of the McCarthy opposition simply does not want to see him become speaker. For example, you can assume Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will not be voting for McCarthy under any circumstance.
Worth noting: All Republican leadership elections will be held today, including the hotly contested race for GOP whip between Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.) and NRCC Chair Tom Emmer.
“Both Tom and Drew certainly bring strong attributes to the table,” Banks said of his opponents. “I got to make my case that RSC experience and understanding policy where the landmines are, where there’s consensus, that that’s really important to the whip job. So that’s the case that I got to make and felt like we made it well.”
Swag: Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is running for a second term as GOP conference chair, is giving her colleagues hand-forged iron elephant bookends painted in gold. These are made in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Her staff drove 2,000 pounds of these elephants from New York to D.C.
– Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle
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November events kick off this week!
TOMORROW: Join us at 9 a.m. ET as we sit down with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) to talk about the impact of 5G on energy. It’s the last event in our series, “5G’s Climate Impact,” that explores the wide ranging use of 5G technology, especially when it comes to climate change. RSVP here to attend in-person at Hawk ‘N’ Dove or on the livestream.
We’re having a virtual one-on-one conversation with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) on Monday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. ET. We’ll be talking to her about the importance of privacy and security and new and existing technologies. It’s the second event in our three-part series, “Building Trust in Technology.” RSVP here.
Our last November event is a virtual one-on-one conversation with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. ET about the future of democracy, voting rights reforms and more! RSVP here.
Finally, we’ll be sitting down with Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 9 a.m. E.T to talk about his role on the Ways & Means Committee and the panel’s priorities for 2023. The conversation is the final event in our “Investing in Tomorrow, Today” series. RSVP to join us in-person or on the livestream!
BRACING FOR IMPACT
Senate Republicans prepare to air it out
Senate GOP leaders are bracing for an “airing of the grievances” today as Republicans gather for the first time since the party’s lackluster midterm performance on Election Day.
Facing another two years in the Senate minority, top Republicans have bucked calls to delay the leadership elections, which are currently set for Wednesday in the Old Senate Chamber. Instead, senior Senate Republicans are pushing ahead with that process while openly acknowledging that today’s party lunch could get messy.
It also comes as former President Donald Trump is prepared to launch another bid today for the White House, his third run in seven years.
“I think that all happens tomorrow, the airing of the grievances,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune told reporters following a GOP leadership meeting on Monday night. “We’ll clear the air a little bit … and then hopefully we can all unite and go after that Georgia seat.”
The “family discussion” comes as a handful of Senate Republicans, including NRSC Chair Rick Scott, have urged a delay in the leadership elections until after the Georgia Senate runoff next month. Scott on Monday declined to say whether he’d challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell while reiterating his support for a delay in the election.
But despite demands from Trump to ditch McConnell after Republicans’ poor showing last week, the idea hasn’t gained much traction within the conference.
“I don’t know why we would delay an uncontested race. I don’t know what purpose that would serve,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
McConnell isn’t worried about a challenge from Scott or anyone else, with the Kentucky Republican saying Monday he “of course” has the votes to win another term as GOP leader, as we reported in our PM edition.
Still, the fallout after the GOP’s dismal results last Tuesday is roiling the party. McConnell allies have pushed back hard on the Trump idea that the longtime Senate GOP leader is to blame for Republicans not winning a majority despite a favorable map.
And it was clear Monday that many Republicans are backing away from Trump, at least for now. The former president’s latest campaign comes in the midst of a Dec. 6 runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican Herschel Walker. Trump recruited Walker to run for the Georgia seat.
“Like everything else, there’s no one single factor but the results are disappointing,” Cornyn said when asked if Trump – and his preferred candidates – were to blame for what happened last week.
“Looking back to 2020 obviously didn’t work out,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
“It’s clear that running on relitigating the 2020 election is not a winning strategy,” Thune added. “I’m not endorsing anybody at this point. We’ll see how the field shakes up, I think it’ll be a pretty robust field.”
– Heather Caygle
Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn face future as their majority dwindles
With the House Democrats’ majority on the verge of disappearing, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn face the moment they’ve all dreaded – the end of their historic run.
House Republicans currently stand at 217 seats won, meaning they only need one more to ensure that they have a majority in the next Congress. Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn – all now in their 80s – have to decide individually and collectively whether they step aside for a new generation of Democratic leaders or force a showdown on remaining in place.
On Monday, the trio huddled at a reception Monday night for new members-elect and longtime colleagues in Statuary Hall, just off the House floor. Pelosi, 82, sat next to 25-year-old Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the first person from Generation Z elected to Congress.
Pelosi didn’t want to talk about her future or a report that President Joe Biden asked her to stay on in the next Congress as Democratic leader. Pelosi is still dealing with the fallout from the brutal attack against her husband, Paul Pelosi, in the couple’s San Francisco home, an attack aimed at her.
“We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about winning this election,” Pelosi said as she entered the reception. “There’s a path, there’s a path. We did better than any of you all predicted.”
Hoyer also declined to comment, saying “I don’t have any plans right now” when we asked about his future. “I’m not going to get into it because there’s all sorts of this, that and the other.”
Clyburn joked that he was still looking for the “red wave” that was supposed to appear on Election Day and didn’t. “I don’t know what my intentions are yet,” Clyburn added.
Yet we asked Clyburn about whether he’d back Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries if Hoyer challenged him for minority leader. This idea has been circulating in Democratic circles during the last few days.
“I don’t know. I don’t know yet,” Clyburn responded, not ruling it out. “I have no idea.”
Jeffries, for his part, appears patient to wait – for the moment. He clearly wants to be the next House Democratic leader, but he also doesn’t want to be seen as trying to push the legendary Pelosi-Hoyer-Clyburn triumvirate aside either. Pelosi and Hoyer have been the No. 1 and No. 2 Democrats since 2002, with Clyburn joining them several years later.
“Right now, I’m focused on making sure that every single vote is counted in the outstanding elections because there’s still a path to 218,” Jeffries said.
– John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
At Chevron, we’re developing lower carbon intensity renewable diesel, made from bio feedstocks, ready for fuel tanks today.
The American Edge Project, a Facebook-backed group, is running a new spot on Fox News and CNN saying Congress should focus on bringing down the price of “gas and groceries,” not regulating technology companies.
— Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
All times eastern
President Joe Biden had a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Biden is scheduled to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
6:30 a.m.: Biden will attend the G20 Gala Dinner.
“Trump Family Signs Deal With Saudi Real Estate Developer,” by Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess
“Jan. 6 Committee Weighs Further Actions as Trump Refuses to Testify,” by Luke Broadwater
“Democrat Katie Hobbs projected to defeat Kari Lake in Arizona governor’s race,” by Hannah Knowles and Isaac Stanley-Becker
“Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of expected 2024 announcement,” by Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer
Editorial: “About Those GOP Leadership Races”
“G-20 to hold tough on Russia, urge end to Ukraine war,” by Seung Min, Zeke Miller and Elaine Kurtenbach
“Kari Lake’s Loss in Arizona Is Biggest Rebuke of Election Denial,” by Ryan Teague Beckwith
“How China’s Language Shifted After Landmark Xi-Biden Meeting,” by Bloomberg News
“Republicans cringe as Trump 2024 approaches,” by Burgess Everett, Olivia Beavers and Andrew Desiderio
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
At Chevron, we’re working to help power the heavy-duty transport sector with lower carbon intensity fuel. Our renewable diesel is ready to fuel the engines of trucks, trains, heavy-duty equipment, and more, today. Sourced from bio feedstocks like plants, animal waste, and used cooking fats, renewable diesel functions just like traditional diesel, but with lower lifecycle carbon emissions. It’s just one of the ways that Chevron is working to help reach a lower carbon future. Find out more about renewable diesel.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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