Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy gave in to demands by a contingent of hardline conservative Republicans blocking his bid to become House speaker as the chamber prepares for a third day of voting, according to multiple reports.
But McCarthy’s acquiescence is also turning out to be controversial, with some Republicans saying the changes will empower individual lawmakers — while others fear they will hinder the GOP’s ability to govern and render their narrow majority toothless.
The California Republican, who has already lost six speaker votes over the last two days, agreed to the compromises during negotiations late Wednesday after the House adjourned to block a seventh ballot.
In his quest to reach the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, McCarthy acceded to a key demand that he had previously said he would not support: lowering the threshold of members who can move to oust the speaker from five to one, a process known as a “motion to vacate.”
He also agreed to assign more members of the Freedom Caucus, which has been at the forefront of efforts to thwart his efforts to become speaker, to House committees — including the Rules Committee, which has large sway over determining which legislation gets to the floor for a vote.
Other concessions involve allowing votes on term limits and border security legislation, according to the reports.
The Post reported Wednesday evening that a super PAC aligned with McCarthy — the Congressional Leadership Fund — reached an agreement with the conservative nonprofit Club for Growth on primary candidate funding, resolving another sticking point in the dispute.
As part of the deal, the Leadership Fund, which funds GOP House candidates, will not spend money on any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.
It remains unclear if the concessions will soothe the 20 hardcore Republicans opposing McCarthy.
Rep.-elect Jim Banks of Indiana said progress was made during the negotiation sessions between McCarthy and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and said the changes to the rules would be beneficial.
“The rules that have been negotiated are really good to empower rank-and-file members and take power away from the hands of just one or two people in leadership and that’s good for the institution. It’s good for the party,” Banks told “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning.
“It’s time to move forward and unify. And we’ve got to get back to work,” he said.
But some moderate GOP House members fear McCarthy would be a speaker in name only after giving away much of his leverage to the Freedom Caucus.
“I don’t like it,” Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) told CNN. “He has two years to prove himself, and that goes by very quickly, so I think we just need to get on with the business that the American people have sent us here to do, and that is to govern. It’s to take care of our border, it’s to get spending under control. It’s to be leaders.”
Rep.-elect Warren Davidson of Ohio, a McCarthy supporter, suggestion the concessions may have come too late because of the stiff resistance to the California lawmaker.
“The reality is,” he told CNN, “there are some people who, in their estimation, there’s no way they’re going to be able to support Kevin McCarthy.”