Representative Kevin McCarthy said he’s willing to return as US House speaker, calling out extreme members of both parties for focusing on petty politics while Israel is under attack.
(Bloomberg) — Representative Kevin McCarthy said he’s willing to return as US House speaker, calling out extreme members of both parties for focusing on petty politics while Israel is under attack.
Sounding like he still had the job he lost last week, McCarthy called for swift action to aid Israel. He also tied the attack to President Joe Biden’s policies on Iran and used it as fodder to call for conservative priorities like securing the US southern border and scrutinizing aid to Ukraine.
“This is about a moment in time. This is about what America is going to do,” McCarthy told reporters Monday.
“I’ll allow the conference to make whatever decision,” McCarthy added. “I can lead in any position it is.”
McCarthy took aim at the eight Republicans who joined with Democrats to oust a speaker for the first time in US history. Several of those hardliners said they voted to remove McCarthy because of his deals with Democrats to avoid a breach of the debt ceiling and avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown.
“What if government wasn’t open? How weak would we be then?” McCarthy said. “The pettiness has got to stop.”
McCarthy was careful not to announce his candidacy for the speakership but implored lawmakers to do what is best for the country. He stressed he had the support of 96% of House Republicans and that it is “wrong” that 4% of the GOP worked with Democrats to remove him.
The House is unable to approve any new aid to Israel — or conduct any other business — until a new speaker is in place.
McCarthy also called for fresh sanctions to block Iran’s oil exports, which he said had boomed under Biden and fueled terrorism, and replacing Iran’s oil with greater US production instead.
“This is a colossal failure,” McCarthy said of Biden’s priorities.
The No. 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise, and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, who has Donald Trump’s backing, are locked in a battle to succeed McCarthy ahead of a planned election on Wednesday. The process could take several days if Republicans, who hold a very narrow majority, can’t unite around a candidate.
McCarthy was elected as speaker in January following an extraordinary 15 rounds of voting. Eight Republican dissidents joined all Democrats to vote him out of office.
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Some Republicans have called for reinstating McCarthy, who has the support of most GOP lawmakers.
“Uncertainty and chaos in the U.S. breeds vulnerability around the world. The House should immediately reinstate McCarthy and stop screwing around,” New York Republican Mike Lawler posted Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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“We wouldn’t be paying our troops,” including tens of thousands serving in the Middle East, had the government shuttered, McCarthy earlier Monday told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
If he were still speaker, McCarthy said, he would’ve set a vote today today on a resolution showing support for Israel.
McCarthy said he would also act to ensure Israel has high-tech munitions, look at new sanctions against Iran, push more domestic energy production and counter anti-antisemitism on college campuses and in Congress.
“Hamas has to be destroyed, but this is not just Hamas. This is directly tied to Iran,” he told Hewitt.
(Updates with additional McCarthy comments about conflict in Israel)
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