Conservative heavyweights call for new House GOP leadership after McCarthy failed to clinch House speaker



A group of nearly 50 conservative heavyweights co-signed a statement Wednesday calling to “change the status quo in Washington,” and applauded the 20 members of Congress who Wednesday voted against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, sinking his bid for House speaker after six rounds of votes.

Among the group calling for McCarthy, R-Calif., to bow out of the race for speakership are former Reagan administration Attorney General Ed Meese, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth. Conservative Action President Ken Blackwell, along with 47 others, offered support to the “20 courageous members of Congress” who have voted against McCarthy.

“These members represents the millions of voters across the country who are disgusted with the business-as-usual, self-interested governance in Washington,” the group stated. 

“We stand behind them and beside them in their courageous efforts to find a Speaker of the House who will represent the interests of conservatives. We encourage more conservative members to join their ranks,” the group said.

CONSERVATIVE CIVIL WAR RAGES ON TWITTER AS MCCARTHY FAILS TO WIN SPEAKER VOTE

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, signed a statement of support for 20 GOP members opposing Kevin McCarthy for House speaker.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

“Over the past decade, the House has grown increasingly autocratic. Rank and file members are routinely denied a chance to participate in the legislative process, committees are ignored, deals and loopholes for interests abound, and there is virtually no amendment process for any bills, large or small,” the group continued.

“The outcome reflects the process: bills that cater to a handful of members in leadership and K Street lobbyists, but ignore the priorities of the voters,” they added. 

The group noted that the House members rejecting McCarthy had “made public a series of proposed reforms designed to democratize the House – to engage the broader membership in legislating, and bring accountability back to the People’s House,” but McCarthy rejected those proposals.

Kevin McCarthy sat in the House Chamber during the third round of votes for House speaker on the opening day of the 118th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Kevin McCarthy sat in the House Chamber during the third round of votes for House speaker on the opening day of the 118th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.
(Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

REPUBLICAN WHO BACKED MCCARTHY VOTES ‘PRESENT’ IN FOURTH ROUND OF VOTING FOR HOUSE SPEAKER

“Rather than engage them in a good faith negotiation, Rep. Kevin McCarthy has instead maligned both the requests and the messengers,” the group claimed. “He has publicly and through proxies leveled attacks against members of his own party, including threatening to deny committee assignments for those who continue to oppose him.”

McCarthy only captured 202 Republican votes in the first three rounds of voting Tuesday. 

In new developments Wednesday afternoon, 20 Republicans voted for Florida Republican Byron Donalds, including himself, and Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz defected from supporting McCarthy to voting “present” in Wednesday’s first round of votes, the fourth overall.

Kevin McCarthy lost his bid for House speaker in the sixth round of votes Wednesday after failing to capture 218 votes.

Kevin McCarthy lost his bid for House speaker in the sixth round of votes Wednesday after failing to capture 218 votes.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 THE VOTE FOR HOUSE SPEAKER: LIVE UPDATES

The exact same vote came down in the second round Wednesday, with House Freedom Caucus members again lining up behind Donalds, and Spartz voting present again.

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McCarthy came up short even after former President Donald Trump called on House Republicans to back McCarthy and get going with the work of the 118th Congress.

Fox News’ Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this report.