A pair of amendments offered to the House GOP rules show just how divided the conference is as it gets ready to elect a new speaker.
Just as Republicans began to gather for their candidate forum on Tuesday, an expected amendment by Rep. Chip Roy was circulated to lawmakers aimed at raising the threshold to put up a speaker candidate to 217 votes — a House majority.
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was elected by a majority vote in the conference after enduring 15 rounds to finally win the gavel in January.
Supporters of the rule change said that it would prevent a similar battle from playing out in public, arguing it’s the better option for House GOP unity.
But not everyone in the caucus feels that way. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-state, sent a letter to colleagues on Tuesday evening calling that proposal “an absurdity on its face.”
He pointed out in a letter to colleagues that the existing rules on removing a speaker — a process which can be triggered by just one member — still means that Republicans’ “choice may be removed by any five of them with a grievance, and every member must accept their decision.”
“This is childish despotism and utter nonsense. Why are we still entertaining it?” he said.
McClintock suggested his own amendment to House GOP rules that would expel a member from the conference if they cast a House floor vote that goes against the conference position on procedural issues like the speaker vote, rules changes and other measures.
That expelled member could be reinstated if two-thirds of the conference votes in favor of it.
McClintock also called for a vote to reinstate McCarthy as speaker — a longshot after McCarthy told podcast host Guy Benson that he does not want members to select him.
House Republicans are expected to hear from the two formally declared candidates for speaker, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Tuesday night. They are set to huddle behind closed doors again on Wednesday morning to select a candidate for speaker.