Kevin McCarthy: McCarthy Drops Out
Published: October 9, 2015
Kevin McCarthy: McCarthy Drops Out, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner on Thursday, a shocking move that throws the House into chaos.
The move came without warning as House Republicans were in a closed-door meeting to select their nominee for speaker, with McCarthy’s wife and kids in the room. Boehner subsequently postponed the vote.
“I think I shocked some of you, huh?” McCarthy told reporters following the decision.
Boehner is poised to resign at the end of the month. There is no clear successor who can overcome the deep divisions in the party and win the post. An influential group of conservatives endorsed a long-shot candidate, Rep. Daniel Webster, on Wednesday, placing McCarthy’s ability to win the House floor vote later this month in doubt.
“If we’re going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to do that,” McCarthy said, adding that he did not want to win the race on the House floor with only enough votes to squeak by.
A source close to McCarthy told CNN the decision to drop out came down to “numbers, pure and simple,” adding that “he had the votes to win the conference vote, but there just wasn’t a path to 218” — the number of votes needed to lock down the speakership on the House floor.
The uncertain future of House GOP leadership comes less than a month before Congress must take action to raise the debt ceiling to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debt obligations — a critical vote conservatives have in the past sought to stall in order to pull concessions from Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was quick to call on Republicans to “bring a clean debt ceiling increase to the floors of the House and Senate immediately” to avoid a credit downgrade. “Republican chaos is likely to get worse before it gets better but the economic livelihood of the American people should not be threatened as a result of Republicans’ inability to govern,” Reid said in a statement.
McCarthy’s candidacy ran into trouble last week after he suggested that the House’s committee on Benghazi was an attempt to hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
Asked if that affected his decision, McCarthy acknowledged: “Well, that wasn’t helpful.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, described McCarthy’s move as “courageous,” saying this is “exciting” for the party because there is now a “wide open” race for speaker.
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