Reports: PA’s Cong. Scott Perry Pivotal in McCarthy Speakership

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — WHTM is reporting… California Republican Kevin McCarthy has now struck out in six votes to become speaker of the United States House of Representatives.  A handful of Republicans, led by Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry, are blocking McCarthy’s bid. Perry spoke with abc27’s Capitol reporter Dennis Owens and said that it’s more important to get it right than to get it fast.  “Washington is broken. Everybody knows it,” Perry said.  While Perry and the 20 or so Republicans who are holding out against McCarthy have a small footprint in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are having a large impact.  “Congress has to work for the American people, not just the people in the swamp,” Perry added.

The Republicans holding out against McCarthy are questioning his conservative credentials and blame him for what they call reckless spending and $31 trillion in debt.  “If you look at this, big huge bills must pass. Bills that are all Christmas tree’d up with all types of pork. The guy who wants to be speaker and lead the fight against them has voted for them every single time except this last time in December when he’s running for speaker,” said Perry.  It’s less than two dozen Republicans, but they want procedural changes and they don’t trust McCarthy to deliver.  “I do trust him and I think he’ll be an excellent speaker,” said Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R).  Smucker, who supports McCarthy, is from the 11th district, adjacent to Perry’s district.

Smucker thinks this protracted and public food fight is an embarrassment to the GOP.  “It’s frustrating to me to be held up by a small minority group of members who are unwilling to get on board with the 91 percent who have voted for Kevin McCarthy, that is frustrating,” Smucker said.  Perry and the other Republicans opposing McCarthy have typically supported Donald Trump, who called for Republicans to vote for McCarthy on Wednesday, Jan. 4.  Perry, who is usually in synchronization with Trump, disagrees with the former president this time.  “No one gets me to fall in line because, Dennis, as you know, there’s never the wrong time to do the right thing,” Perry concluded.  How unusual is it to not name a speaker of the house on the first ballot? The last time it took more than one ballot was in 1923, almost exactly 100 years ago.

WASHINGTON — The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting…  As the Republican standoff over selecting a House speaker dragged through a second day Wednesday, Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry continued to play a leading role among a small group of GOP hard-liners opposed to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, delivering a speech calling for the party to get behind Florida Rep. Byron Donalds as its leader.  Perry, chair of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, cast McCarthy as a symptom of the “broken” culture in Washington while urging the GOP to support Donalds, who is just beginning his second term in Congress.  “No matter what your political persuasion, one thing is universally recognized across this country: Washington is broken,” Perry, of York County, said in a speech on the House floor.

“How are you going to fix it if you just come to this town and just step right in line and just keep doing the same things that everybody has done before you? It’s not going to fix it, and the American people know it.”  Moments later, the House voted for a sixth time to try to elect a speaker for the new Congress, and failed — again. The election is the first time in 100 years that the House has failed to choose a leader on its first vote, and the delay has prevented Congress from taking up any business — including even swearing in members or establishing basic ground rules for the new year.  Donalds got 20 votes for speaker and McCarthy got 201, virtually unchanged from previous rounds. Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York won 212 votes, though no one had enough for a majority.

Perry, a close ally of former President Donald Trump who played a leading role in trying to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election, has emerged as one of the most prominent Republicans opposing McCarthy, calling for changes that would give rank-and-file members more power, including to usurp the sitting speaker (which would effectively give virtually every member a chance to stop the business of the House at any point by threatening to unseat the leadership).  Two other Pennsylvania Republicans have been prominent advocates for McCarthy and have reportedly been dispatched to try to broker a resolution: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, and Guy Reschenthaler, of Washington County.

Both were part of a group negotiating with holdouts on McCarthy’s behalf, according to the online news outlet Punchbowl.  Fitzpatrick, a leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, was one of three House Republicans who formally nominated McCarthy within the GOP conference Tuesday and has stuck by the Californian despite repeated defeats. He told NBC News he’d support McCarthy through the “1,000th round” of voting if that’s what it takes.  Reschenthaler is a new leader in the GOP whip operation, giving him a role in party leadership.

Holdouts like Perry are demanding moves that would empower rank-and-file members, and in turn the GOP’s right flank, arguing that this week’s votes clearly demonstrate McCarthy doesn’t have enough support to succeed. Other Republicans argue that they’re making demands to put themselves ahead of other lawmakers, and preventing the party from getting onto its broader goals, such as tackling inflation and the southern border. They say the party can’t cave to people holding the process hostage.  The result has been an extraordinary impasse set to stretch deeper into the first week of the new GOP majority.


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