Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Cali.) withdrew his bid to become Speaker of the House today. The election to choose a new Speaker has been postponed as a result.
Yesterday the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republican lawmakers, said that it planned to back Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) instead of McCarthy. The caucus, which has roughy 40 members, said it would vote in a bloc together. Backing Webster would have been a tough challenge for McCarthy to overcome, as he could only afford to lose 29 votes in order to gain the necessary 218 votes to win the Speakership.
The caucus opposition was not a big surprise, given the conservative pushback that had been building against McCarthy and the Republican establishment. In announcing his withdrawal from the race, McCarthy told his colleagues today the he didn’t think he would be able to garner enough support to lock up the necessary 218 votes. The news came as a shock to politics watchers everywhere, as McCarthy was still reportedly seeking the Speakership early this morning.
As of right now, it is unclear when the vote to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) will take place.
“As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker,”Boehner said. “We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks.”