New U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks with reporters in Statuary Hall after being elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in a late night 15th round of voting in the fourth session of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 7, 2023.
Jon Cherry | Reuters
Following a chaotic week in the U.S. House of Representatives over Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker, Republican representatives said Sunday they are not worried that he gave up too much in order to secure the gavel.
After 14 failed votes since Tuesday, the California Republican was able to overcome opposition after making extraordinary concessions to a small bloc of far-right holdouts who refused to support his speaker bid.
Republican Rep. Scott Perry, who was among the most outspoken opponents of McCarthy’s speaker bid, flipped his vote for McCarthy on the 12th ballot. He said Sunday that the concessions made by McCarthy will function as a mechanism to get things done and reign in issues like the debt limit.
“This is never about Kevin McCarthy. This is about power for the American people,” Perry told ABC’s “This Week.” “And with all due respect, Nancy Pelosi ran Congress like a prison camp with no accountability.”
Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., said Sunday he’s not worried that Kevin McCarthy conceded too much to get the speakership. He said he understands why Americans were frustrated with how long it took to elect a speaker, but that a healthy democracy requires debate.
“The process that we went through this week was quite healthy from the standpoint of getting all of these issues resolved now,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”
In his first speech, McCarthy laid out an ambitious plan in addressing the 118th congressional session early Saturday morning, saying he wants to “be the check and provide some balance” to President Joe Biden’s policies.
He said the first legislation he plans to tackle will repeal funding for more than 87,000 new IRS agents. He highlighted immigration reform as a top priority, saying the Republican-controlled House will hold some of its first hearings of the year at the Southern border.
Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said he thinks McCarthy is “an extraordinarily talented leader,” and that he is confident a lot of work will be done while he is speaker.
He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the speaker vote was not “dysfunctioning chaos” like many people claimed. It gave Republicans an opportunity to take a hard look at one another.
“It was deciding the most important equations about how this Congress is going to proceed, and we accomplished an enormous amount,” he said.
Democratic representatives were less optimistic.
Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that she thinks House Republicans were trying to distract Americans away from their legislative agenda.
“When they talk about process, that is a smoke screen,” she said.
But House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said if McCarthy is willing to try and find common ground, he will find willing partners among House Democrats.
“Clearly we are going to have strong disagreements at times, but we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.