McCarthy Is Still Hemorrhaging Speaker Votes Even As He Bends Over Backwards For MAGA

Another vote bites the dust: Rep. Ralph Norman is an immovable ‘no’ on McCarthy as House Speaker.
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 21: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) announced he would not vote for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker next year, joining the small but mighty chorus of MAGA-aligned detractors in his caucus who are refusing to bend the knee – at least not before throwing a minor fit. 

Norman told Politico Tuesday he is a “hard” no against the Minority Leader, shutting down previous reports that he might just vote present or not attend the speakership vote at all.

The South Carolina congressman is the fifth Republican in recent days to announce his  opposition to McCarthy’s speakership bid, joining fellow conservative Freedom Caucus members Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and Bob Good (R-VA).

They’re setting McCarthy up for a fight for his political life, as the Republican leader will have to continue aggressively campaigning through the new year — when he will need to get 218 votes in House elections to secure his role as speaker. But new names keep getting added to the “no” list.

Norman said the main reason for his opposition is the way McCarthy is planning to address the national debt.

“Economic security is national security,” Norman said. “I was not happy with the answer Kevin gave me about balancing the budget. I don’t care who the speaker is. It could be Mickey Mouse, but if we have our way, we’re gonna have some firm economic mandates.”

“By the way, you will hear of many more who will take our position. …It’s not business as usual in Washington, D.C,” he continued, acknowledging that Republicans’ inability to take back the House by a healthier margin is a key factor in he and his colleagues’ detractions: “Do you think we would be having this discussion if we’ve had a 30 seat margin? No.”

With their new, slimmer-than-expected majority in the House following the midterms, every Republican vote counts and is important for McCarthy’s bid. It’s the reason he’s spent the past week testing out a variety of different methods to woo the far-right, MAGA loyalists in his caucus. A big one: punishing Democrats for their various, perceived offenses over the last four years.

Just a couple days ago, he vowed to remove Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from House committees under his leadership.

And while pretty much everyone is having a much-needed break over the Thanksgiving week, McCarthy is on the road pulling a political stunt in hopes of fending off more opposition to his speakership.

On Tuesday, he visited the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, touring the site with other House GOP members and Border Patrol. While he was there, he called for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign over his handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border or face an impeachment inquiry next year, according to Fox News. The move is a clear carrot for the more rabid members of his caucus who will soon head up the House Homeland Security Committee.

“I am calling on the secretary to resign. He cannot and must not remain in that position,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso. “If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure to determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry. The American public deserves more, deserves better and expects more within their government. Enough is enough. We will do whatever it takes.”

(House Republicans on the homeland security panel have already made it clear that Mayorkas will be a major target of Republicans’ new-majority ire.)

And this all comes as McCarthy makes promises to key far-right members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose support will be crucial for his bid. Last week reports surfaced that McCarthy promised Greene he’d allow the House to tackle some of her favorite pet projects, like investigating current-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Justice Department over conspiracy theories that rioters arrested for their participation in the Jan. 6 attack have been mistreated, according to reporting by the New York Times.

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