The conservative House Freedom Caucus announced Wednesday that it will vote for Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., to take over as House Speaker when the Republican conference chooses its candidate Thursday. This move is a jab at Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is currently Speaker John Boehner’s second in command.
The caucus’ statement said, The Washington Post reported:
It is clear that our constituents will simply not accept a continuation of the status quo, and that the viability of the Republican Party depends on whether we start listening to our voters and fighting to keep our promises … We accordingly believe that, under the present circumstances and without significant changes to Conference leadership and process, Rep. Daniel Webster would be best equipped to earn back the trust of the American people as Speaker of the House.
ABC News political reporter, Jonathan Karl, described it for what it was:
And it’s war in the House GOP conference. The 37-member House Freedom Caucus endorses Daniel Webster over @GOPLeader for Speaker
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) October 7, 2015
The group also rejected Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who announced that he was seeking the Speaker’s position. The Washington Examiner reported:
The vote officially rejects the candidacy of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is hoping to succeed outgoing Speaker John Boehner. The Freedom Caucus also rejected House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who is running for the top post.
“Instead of a power based representation, it is a principle based representation,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said. “We need to be empowered, rather than the House Speaker dictating to us.”
Fleming also indicated that the decision to vote as a bloc will only apply to Thursday’s conference vote. After that, its members are free tio vote for whomever they wish.
But the real battle will be on Oct. 29 when the House votes as a body.
“Most of us have recognized that what happens tomorrow is really not the fight,” Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, a Freedom Caucus member said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s about the floor.”
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