What to Know in Washington: GOP Agenda on Hold Amid Speaker Spat

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Republicans spent the last two years crafting a legislative plan in the event they recaptured the House, proposing bills to take to the floor and investigations of the Biden administration they would pursue.

But now those plans are frozen as the battle for the speaker drags on into a third day. Nothing, not even the swearing in of members, can occur until a leader is chosen. Members are growing frustrated as the challenge by conservative hardliners to Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the top job continues.

“We have a very ambitious agenda we need to get started from day one,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) “Every day that we don’t have a speaker is a day where the radical left wins.”

The delay has already cut into the GOP’s proposed timeline. McCarthy (R-Calif.) lamented to reporters that the House was unable to pass legislation to reverse plans in Democrats’ major tax and climate law (Public Law 117-169) that would add 87,000 new IRS employees. McCarthy had pledged to bring up that measure on the first day of the 118th Congress.

“We wanted to set up a number of investigations we have going, we wanted to notice the different committee hearings we’d have actually on the border,” McCarthy added. “None of that transpired.” Read more

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
McCarthy and other House Republicans meeting in GOP Whip Tom Emmer’s office Wednesday night.


  • Without a speaker, there are no rules governing day-to-day operations of the 434 House lawmakers, staff, or reporters on the Hill. Members aren’t getting paid. Some aides can’t log into computer systems. Read more
  • Votes to raise the debt limit and fund the government could turn into standoffs that shake the economy, lawmakers and congressional experts said, if the GOP standoff over electing a speaker is any indication. Read more
  • With the House in disarray, Republicans lining up for spots on the prestigious tax-writing Ways and Means Committee also remain in limbo. Read more

Conservative Rebellion Against McCarthy Is Years in the Making

The revolt by GOP hardliners has been brewing for years, fueled by anger at party leaders and deep suspicions of McCarthy. Many of the dissenters are opposing McCarthy over grievances about House rules and ire over compromises with Democrats.

“Mr. McCarthy has a history that is off-putting to some people,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), one of the leaders of the rebellion, said. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said his opposition is pegged to a need for a changing of the guard. “If you think Washington has been performing well, you should be mad at me for trying to change it,” he said. “It’s not entirely his fault.”

Trump’s Clout in GOP Slips as Plea for McCarthy Goes Unheeded

Donald Trump is losing his sway over the GOP at a key moment. After throwing his weight behind McCarthy on Truth Social—urging members to “VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL”—a handful of conservatives still defied their ideological leader.

“The fact that he did that and not a single one of those 20 changed their standing is interesting,” David Winston, a Republican strategist, said in a telephone interview. “If you’re looking for a collateral event as to what this all means, that’s an important collateral event. Don’t look at it as an isolated event.”


  • Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), touted as a rising star in the Republican Party, suddenly moved into the spotlight as the 20 McCarthy holdouts pushed his name instead. Read more
  • Even some of McCarthy’s Republican allies are looking for a possible successor. Here’s a look at potential fallback candidates for speaker. Read more
  • Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of McCarthy’s most vocal detractors, said McCarthy told them to offer a list of committee requests and then promptly leaked it to the press to make it appear they were angling for favors. Read more
  • House Speaker is a job that sometimes seeks the person rather than the other way around. Two of the last three GOP speakers were drafted for the position rather than pursuers of it. Read more
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
McCarthy departing the meeting in the whip’s office Wednesday night.

Also in Politics and Probes


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Around the Administration


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  • At 3 p.m., the president holds a Cabinet meeting

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com

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