Republicans who won seats in districts taken by President Biden in 2020 backed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyR-Calif., for speaker, with one vowing the top House Republican would be in charge whether it takes “one ballot or 100 ballots or more.”
Rep.-elect Mike Lawler, RN.Y., led a dear colleague letter with 14 of his Biden-district colleagues pleading their support behind McCarthy for the speakership and not any shadow “consensus candidate.”
Lawler — who defeated Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, DN.Y., for his seat — said the letter is “important” for their colleagues “to understand that we are only supporting Kevin” for speaker, noting McCarthy received “over 85%” of the vote during November’s GOP conference elections.
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The New York Republican told Fox News Digital in a phone interview that he believes McCarthy “has been negotiating in good faith with some of our colleagues” and that the GOP leader has “been making some concessions on rules changes” with those colleagues.
“And as those concessions are made, they should rally in support behind him and stop with this effort to impede the will of the conference and trying to find some consensus candidate that nobody knows who it is,” Lawler said on Friday.
“And the reality is, there is no one. Kevin has the support of the overwhelming majority of us, and we will be voting for him, whether it’s one ballot or 100 ballots or more,” the New York congressman-elect continued. “So I think the time for this effort needs to come to an end and everybody in the conference needs to get on board so that we can get about the work we were elected to do, which is stopping the Biden and Pelosi agenda, advancing our agenda, providing oversight, and getting about restoring balance and common sense in government for the American people.”
Lawler said that he has not heard from any of the GOP holdouts since the dear colleague letter was sent on Thursday, but his “colleagues have responded positively and shared the sentiment expressed by us on the letter.”
“I think certainly the leader and his team are continuing the negotiations,” Lawler said. “But I think, you know, it’s important for those folks who are holding out to understand where the rest of us are.”
Lawler added that if the situation “spirals out of control, as some of them seem hellbent on doing,” GOP voters and “voters in general are going to be very dissatisfied.”
“They wanted a balanced approach to government. They wanted to end the one party rule. And they have given Republicans the opportunity to govern in the House,” Lawler said. “And we need to take that seriously.”
“And we need to get about that work immediately,” he continued, noting “this intraparty fight is not doing anything to advance that cause.”
“In fact, the only person who’s benefiting from this is Joe Biden,” Lawler warned.
Lawler said that, while he does not expect every holdout to get behind McCarthy’s bid for speakership, he suspects “that Kevin will have the requisite number of votes needed to become speaker.”
In the letterLawler and the House Republicans said the GOP caucus “must be united” behind their pick for speaker, and that they are not only supporting Kevin McCarthy for Speaker, but are not open to any so-called shadow ‘consensus candidate’ — regardless of how many votes it takes to elect Speaker-designate McCarthy.”
“There is no other conservative candidate that can garner the support of 218 Republicans for Speaker—period,” the lawyers wrote.
The GOP lawyers wrote they “remain concerned that some of these changes could unintentionally yield more power to our Democrat colleagues” but “are willing to support these changes if, and only if doing so will bring our conference together around Speaker-designate McCarthy as our nominee for Speaker.”
The letter was signed by 14 of Lawler’s Biden-district Republican colleagues including Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska and Michelle Steel of California, as well as Rep.-elects Anthony D’Esposito and Nick Lalota of New York.
McCarthy floated a last-minute deal on Friday to clinch the speakersship and bring conservative holdouts in line behind him.
The deal offers a congressional rule change that would make it easier to remove a House speaker in exchange for his ascension to the post. McCarthy’s offer would lower the threshold required for a motion to vacate the chair—a parliamentary gambit that forces a vote on retaining the speaker.
Currently, because of a rules change pushed through by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only a member of the House leadership can offer a motion to vacate. Conservative House Republicans are pushing for that standard to be repealed, allowing any member to force a vote on the speaker at any time.
Lawler said he believes the rules change on the motion to vacate “is the biggest concern because the ability of one member to grind the House to a halt by issuing the motion to vacate is real.”
“We’ve seen it. But I think we’re willing to go along with these concessions on the motion to vacate ultimately, if it means that the conference unifies behind Kevin,” Lawler said.
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“If the conference is not going to do that, if these holdouts are not going to do that, then obviously there’s no agreement on the motion to vacate,” he continued. “So, I think if they are looking for a concession in good faith, then they need to show good faith as well.”
Lawler said that he hopes “cooler heads will prevail here” and they will avoid a fight on the House floor, but ultimately, whether it takes one vote or multiple votes,” McCarthy will be speaker.
Fox News Digital’s Haris Alic contributed reporting.