poh, Kevin McCarthy didn’t imagine that. After the summer break, doubts arose about a red wave in the congressional elections. But they evaporated in the final phase of the election campaign. The Republican’s disappointment that he is dealing with tight relations in the House of Representatives is all the greater.
A majority is a majority, said McCarthy, who announced his candidacy as speaker just after the election to nip a personnel debate in the bud. Still, he is not spared: At the parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, he was able to assert himself against an opposing candidate. But 31 MPs voted against him. He must take the real hurdle in January in the plenary session of the first chamber. Then he needs at least 218 votes.
Fragile relationship with Trump
The 57-year-old Californian, who first ran for Congress in 2007, was recently introduced to the demands of “America first” Republicans. McCarthy already knows this: in 2015 he wanted to stand, but withdrew due to opposition from the right wing in the parliamentary group. Today, the wing is determined by Trumpists.
McCarthy thought he had welcomed them. Before the election, he drafted a “Commitment to America” that articulates his legislative agenda. Securing the southern border, deregulation of energy policy and combating inflation have priority. He also made it clear that he wants to scrutinize Biden’s decisions, such as the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also wants to set up an investigative committee to look into the business practices of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
That’s not enough for the Trumpists: They want to shut down the federal administration to force the president to cut spending. Some are even calling for the impeachment of Joe Biden. McCarthy’s challenge will be to dispel the impression that he is a Trumpist puppet. His relationship with the former president is fragile. The storming of the Capitol had almost led to a rupture, but McCarthy mournfully traveled to Trump at Mar-a-Lago to prevent his faction from splitting. To secure the candidacy for 2024, Trump will likely try to use congressional Republicans for his purposes.
Whether McCarthy can last two years is an open question. So far, it has proven to be flexible. The son of a firefighter, he was born in Bakersfield and still lives in his hometown in Southern California. The married business economist, who has two children, has so far managed to keep his private life out of the public eye.