Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not rule out returning to the post if the House Republican Conference cannot decide on a replacement.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked McCarthy — who lost the gavel last week after eight House Republicans joined with Democrats to oust him — on Monday whether he would serve again as Speaker if Republicans are deadlocked on a replacement.
“Look, the conference has to make that decision. I’m still a member. I’m going to continue to fight and act,” McCarthy said.
Pressed again on whether he would take the job again if the eight GOP members who opposed him retreated, McCarthy remained open to the possibility.
“Look, whatever the conference wants, I will do,” McCarthy said. “I think we need to be strong. I think we need to be united. The eight, in my view, don’t look to be — it was a personal thing.”
He expressed frustration with the Republicans who voted against a GOP-only stopgap proposal. The party’s repeated failure to pass a temporary funding bill that included spending cuts and policy provisions prompted McCarthy to pass a “clean” stopgap to avoid a government shutdown, infuriating the hard-line GOP members who then voted to oust him.
McCarthy defended the decision, pointing to the war breaking out in Israel.
“They’re the ones who wanted a government shutdown,” McCarthy said. “We wouldn’t be paying our troops while we’re putting out a carrier strike fighter there – 30,000 American men and women in our armed services in the Middle East wouldn’t be being paid right now? I mean, what weakness would we be at?”
Some Republicans, such as Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), have argued that McCarthy should be reinstated as Speaker, particularly in light of the new war in Israel.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are running to replace McCarthy as Speaker. The House GOP is set to have a candidate forum Tuesday and an internal conference election Wednesday.