Nine House Republicans on the fence about Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid signaled Sunday that the California Republican’s attempts to mollify critics were “insufficient” and that a “radical departure from the status quo” was needed.
The lawmakers, led by Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and Chip Roy of Texas, voiced their displeasure in a public letter ahead of Tuesday’s speaker vote.
The lawmakers wrote that while Mr. McCarthy had offered concessions on House rules in an effort to address “longstanding and deep dysfunction,” the move came too late.
“At this stage, it cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient,” they wrote.
“This is especially true with respect to Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker because the times call for radical departure from the status quo — not a continuation of past, and ongoing, Republican failures,” the lawmakers added.
The nine House Republicans added that Mr. McCarthy, who has served within the GOP leadership since 2009, “bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction” plaguing the chamber.
The letter comes in response to a series of concession Mr. McCarthy unveiled on Sunday to the GOP caucus.
Mr. McCarthy’s most notable concession is on a congressional rule that makes it easier to remove a House speaker.
Currently, because of a change pushed through in 2019 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, only a member of leadership can offer a motion to vacate the chair.
The parliamentary gambit, which forces a vote on retaining the speaker, has been a key demand of conservative hardliners within the Republican conference.
Mr. McCarthy has proposed allowing a motion to vacate the chair to come up for a vote if at least five House lawmakers agree.
The concession is not enough for some hardliners, who want any House lawmaker at any time to have the power to propose a vote on retaining the speaker.
“We have from the beginning made clear that we will not accept following Nancy Pelosi’s example by insulating leadership in this way,” the nine House Republicans wrote in their letter.
Apart from Mr. Perry and Mr. Roy, the letter was signed by Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Andrew Clyde of Georgia.
Also signing on were Republican Reps.-elect Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Eli Crane of Arizona.
The feelings of the nine GOP lawmakers is problematic for Mr. McCarthy. The California Republican helped his party win the House majority this cycle, but is struggling to line up the votes needed to become speaker.
Officially, 218 votes are needed to clinch the speakership if all 435 members of the House are present and voting when the chamber assembles Tuesday.
At the moment, five GOP lawmakers — outside of those signing on to the letter — have already pledged to oppose Mr. McCarthy when the House assembles Tuesday to vote on a speaker.
Given that the incoming GOP majority is only 222 seats, Mr. McCarthy cannot afford to lose more than four votes.