FIRST ON FOX: Congressional Republicans expressed anger at party holdouts against electing Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker of the House, with one senior congressman warning that voting against the leader ‘damages the conference.’
A handful of Republicans are bringing the House of Representatives to a standstill by pledging not to vote for McCarthy for speaker, meaning the chamber may be inoperative if the GOP membership cannot coalesce behind their leader.
Several GOP members have gone after their colleagues holding out on voting for McCarthy, with Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia warning that voting against the leader for speaker ‘damages the conference’ and Republicans’ ‘ability to govern.’
‘McCarthy earned the right to be the speaker, and the House Republican Conference overwhelmingly selected him to be the Republican nominee,’ Scott said.
‘Any vote against him damages the conference and our ability to govern,’ the Georgia Republican warned. ‘Those opposing McCarthy are putting their selfish motivations over what’s best for our nation.’
GOP Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin, who was sworn in Tuesday and previously served in the House multiple terms, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview that McCarthy has ‘earned’ the speakership and the holdouts ‘just want attention.’
‘There’s no endgame,’ Mullin said, noting that McCarthy challenger Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs objectively ‘doesn’t have a chance in the world’ to win the speakership.
‘I’m not saying he’s not a bad guy or a good guy,’ Mullin said. ‘I’m just saying that he doesn’t have a chance to win. So who’s that replacement? You don’t have a Paul Ryan in there, that was a VP candidate that everybody liked that could have been a consensus candidate, back like you did in 2015.’
Mullin said there isn’t anyone who has ‘worked harder’ or led the Republican conference like McCarthy and that the holdouts are ‘playing right into’ the Democrats’ hands.
The senator also warned that ‘if you’re not able to get that coalition behind you, then you can’t sit there and hang out with everybody else just because you didn’t get your way.’
‘At some point you’re throwing a temper tantrum, and when you’re throwing a temper tantrum and you’re holding out on the way the rest of the party wants to move, then who else are you caucusing with?’ Mullin said.
Other Republican lawmakers, such as Reps. Michael Waltz of Florida and Dan Crenshaw of Texas, supported McCarthy while pushing back against the holdouts.
Crenshaw took a hardline stance while speaking to CNN’s Manu Raju, saying the holdouts ‘are enemies now’ as ‘they have made it clear that they prefer a Democrat agenda than a Republican one.’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who usually is found in tandem with some of the holdouts, including GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, backed McCarthy for speaker and criticized her colleagues and the Freedom Caucus for not taking the ‘win.’
‘If my friends in the Freedom Caucus, Matt Gaetz and others, will not take the win when they have it, they’re proving to the country that they don’t care about doing the right thing for America,’ Greene told reporters on Tuesday.
‘They’re proving to the country that they are just destructionists and that’s not what we need to do as a party. That’s why Republicans fail and I’m really tired of it,’ she continued.
Greene also said she has ‘been pointing to [McCarthy’s] public record because that’s what I’ve been able to support this entire time, not anything talked about privately behind closed doors.’
‘The entire agenda that’s on his website, the things he talks about in all of the press conferences he has on the news, on his social media – that agenda is exactly what the base supports,’ Greene said. ‘The same base that the people that are against Kevin right now – they are lying to the base, but they are not telling them this is what Kevin McCarthy is saying he wants to do because if they would talk about that then it’s an easy yes. It’s so simple.’
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., launched a salvo against McCarthy’s opponents during a Monday appearance on ‘Fox & Friends,’ saying the vote threatens to throw the GOP into ‘chaos.’ He argued that the small group of hardline lawmakers doesn’t have the ‘moral right’ to oppose the will of the overwhelming majority of Republicans who do support McCarthy for speaker.
‘I don’t understand what they’re doing. They’re not voting against Kevin McCarthy, they’re voting against over 215 members of their own conference. Their conference voted overwhelmingly, 85%, for McCarthy to be speaker, so this is a fight between a handful of people and the entire rest of the conference,’ Gingrich said.
‘They’re saying they have the right to screw up everything,’ he continued. ‘Well, the precedent that sets is… any five people can get up and say, ‘Well, I’m now going to screw up the conference too.’ The choice is Kevin McCarthy or chaos.’
Gaetz, while speaking at a press conference with GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, said he would not vote for McCarthy for speaker and compared his speakership to putting an ‘alligator’ in charge of draining the swamp.
‘If you want to drain The Swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,’ Gaetz said on Tuesday.
Pro-McCarthy Republicans have been firing back at party holdouts as the leader looks to secure the highest office in the House.
A tumultuous party conference meeting has tripped up the GOP’s takeover of the House as the chamber looks to solidify its top leader.
If a speaker isn’t chosen, a clerk selected by outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will run operations in the House until a speaker is elected.
Fox News Digital’s Anders Hagstrom contributed reporting.