What to Know in Washington: McCarthy’s Strategy for GOP Factions

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy is making an offer his fellow Republicans can’t refuse. He’s given five competing groups—some of whom almost came to blows during the drawn-out speaker’s race—a seat at the leadership table.

McCarthy has dubbed them “The Five Families,” a nod to New York’s major Mafia clans and popularized by “The Godfather.” His plan would be a marked contrast to the approach of his predecessors, especially former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who held a tight rein on power, was heavily involved in setting the legislative agenda, and moved to quash disputes among the moderate and liberal wings of her party.

By giving the sometimes warring GOP factions more of a voice, McCarthy (R-Calif.) is betting he’ll be better able to navigate a five-vote margin and ensure major legislation isn’t shot down by partisan infighting. And the success of his speakership may rise and fall on whether his decentralized approach ultimately gives him the room he needs to maneuver atop a fractious caucus.

Each of the ‘five families’ aren’t only planning meetings among themselves and with conferences leaders, but will each have a representative to the weekly Elected Leadership Committee, which is headed by Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.). Graves said that the diverse views within the party came to the forefront during the speaker’s race, which was only decided after much drama and multiple votes.

Having the five groups on the committee will help “identity landmines” before a bill hits the floor, Graves said in an interview. Unlike the whip operation, which focuses on more immediate floor action, Graves’ committee looks several months down the road on broader issues like the southern border, energy security and inflation, said Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).

“What we’re trying to do is get all of the different philosophical viewpoints within our conference together talking about the challenges that the country and the Congress face, in advance of when the deadlines hit,” Scalise said. “There are deadlines coming on certain things. You don’t want to wait till the midnight hour.” Read more from Emily Wilkins.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com

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