In a stunning twist, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has dropped out of the race for House speaker, facing resistance from hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus. Apparently unable to muster enough support from House Republicans to be confident of a win on the House floor later this month -- where Democratic votes for speaker would likely go to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- McCarthy made the decision to withdraw his candidacy.
"If we are going to be united and be strong, we need a fresh face to do this," McCarthy said in a press conference after the news broke.
A vote among House Republicans to select their nominee for speaker had been expected early Thursday afternoon. McCarthy's withdrawal immediately threw the House into disarray. According to members, McCarthy felt he had the votes for Thursday's closed-door nomination, but was concerned he would not have the 218 votes when the nomination would be brought to a full House later this month.
McCarthy's decision to withdraw was especially shocking as, earlier in the morning, he had told the press going into the speaker forum that he felt confident he had the votes to be elected speaker.
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