Days before vote, Republicans fight over how to choose a new president | ET REALITY


House Republicans, divided and demoralized after the impeachment of their speaker this week, are now quietly arguing over how to choose a successor.

The dispute, which erupted on Friday, suggests that the same divisions that led to the downfall of former President Kevin McCarthy continue to fester within the ranks of the Republican Party, setting the stage for a potentially bruising contest next week, when lawmakers will meet to choose. his replacement.

At stake is a request made Friday by more than 90 House Republicans to temporarily change the party’s internal rules for nominating a candidate for president. In a brief letter to Rep. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, acting speaker, and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, conference chair, the group requested a “special organizational meeting” to consider the change. The New York Times obtained a copy of the letter.

In the letter, they requested an amendment to temporarily raise the threshold for becoming the candidate. Advocates for the change have been pushing to require a unanimous vote of the Republican conference, rather than the current requirement of a majority.

They have presented the idea as a way to foster unity after the deeply divisive overthrow of McCarthy at the hands of eight mostly right-wing rebels who opposed the rest of their Republican colleagues this week.

In theory, it would avoid a repeat of the public chaos that unfolded in January, when the nation watched the House slog through 15 rounds of roll-call votes until Republicans finally coalesced around McCarthy, a veteran lawmaker from California.

But supporters of Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the majority leader running for president, quickly complained, arguing that the change would only make it harder for him to get elected.

The idea that the fractured GOP conference could unite unanimously behind Scalise or the other declared candidate, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, is also virtually unthinkable.

But Scalise allies believe he would win a majority over Jordan, putting him in a strong position to beat the Ohio Republican in the House under current rules.

“Changing the rules will create chaos and will only benefit candidates who cannot reach 51 percent in the closed-door vote,” said Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas, who has said he supports Scalise.

Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who is also backing Scalise, said “a rushed, last-minute rule change is not really what the conference needs right now.”

“We need unity and leadership,” he said. “We should all be prepared to support the candidate the majority chooses.”

He added that there was “nothing binding” about a conference meeting vote. “The only vote that is binding is done with complete transparency in the House of Representatives,” she said.

House Republicans were scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Tuesday to nominate a new candidate for president by secret ballot, and a floor vote could take place as early as the next day.

under the current republican conference rules, whoever emerges from the secret ballot with a simple majority of votes wins. Changing the rules could lead to a much longer process in which both candidates would have to fight for conference-wide support.

Scalise’s allies view the effort as an attempt by those pushing Jordan’s candidacy to tip the balance in his favor. One of the people who led the fight for change was Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who endorsed Mr. Jordan.

McCarthy allies have also been pressuring members to sign, arguing that the rule change would help keep any infighting behind closed doors. The former president has long had a difficult and competitive relationship with Scalise. And the feeling among Scalise supporters is that they have a vested interest in helping elect Jordan president.

The members who signed the letter come from all factions of the Republican conference. Among them were Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, a loyal McCarthy ally, and Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, one of eight far-right members who voted to unseat him.

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