Buck says McCarthy should consider alternative speaker candidate

Rep. Steve Scalise could be next best option for U.S. House speaker, Colorado Republican suggests

By: - January 4, 2023 3:14 pm

U.S. Rep.-elect Steve Scalise (R-LA) (R) talks to Rep.-elect Ken Buck (R-CO) in the House Chambers on the second day of elections for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 4, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next speaker. Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on three separate Tuesday ballots, the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Republican representatives from Colorado are thinking about other options for speaker of the U.S. House as Rep. Kevin McCarthy continuously fails to win the 218 votes he needs to be elected. 

Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor said Wednesday McCarthy needs to earn enough votes to become speaker or step aside to give someone else a chance, while Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt said former President Donald Trump should tell McCarthy to step aside. 

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Boebert is one of the Republicans most vocal about being anti-McCarthy, and Wednesday she nominated Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a second-term Republican, in the fifth vote the House took for speaker. 

“We need the tools and the leadership to do our job correctly, and I believe that Byron Donalds is the man to lead us to that path of getting America on track and uniting the Republican Party,” Boebert said on the House floor Wednesday. “My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly for months to build consensus, to negotiate in good faith, to help unify our party on border security, energy security, debt reduction, term limits earmarks, among other many common sense policies. But too often out efforts have fallen on deaf ears.” 

In an appearance on CNN during the House’s fifth vote for speaker, Buck said the smartest move for the House would be to adjourn so the Republican caucus can discuss an alternative candidate the whole party can get behind, but Democrats and the Republicans opposing McCarthy wouldn’t agree to that. 

Buck identified Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana as the next potential choice for Republicans, but he said he’d need to meet with some of the McCarthy opposers to get them what they want when it comes to rules and policy changes. He said others in that group of 20 will simply vote for anyone who isn’t McCarthy. 

“It makes sense that at some point today we are able to move forward in a way that we elect a speaker,” Buck said. “I think if Steve meets those three needs, he will be able to move forward and take the speakership.”

Boebert said her “favorite president,” former President Donald Trump, has called on the McCarthy opposers to “knock it off,” but she said he should instead tell McCarthy that he doesn’t have the votes and should therefore withdraw from the race. 

“Let me be clear: Our job is not to coronate the biggest fundraiser or rubber stamp the status quo or keep on going along to get along,” Boebert said. “It’s to use our votes to elect a speaker who will enable us to get our country back on track. Getting the job done is what we were elected to do, and that starts with having a leader who supports Republican principles, builds consensus and has a proven track record of success.” 

Buck said that as the members of the House start getting worn out by the never-ending votes, unhealthy conflict will only continue to grow. He said McCarthy will make a decision on his candidacy at some point, and if he doesn’t, other senior Republicans in the House will need to tell him his candidacy no longer makes sense if Congress wants to move forward. 

“At some point, people have to realize that we’ve got to choose the speaker and move forward,” Buck said. “The American people sent us here to get the work done.”

After the fifth vote concluded, Buck was on the House floor speaking with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, another one of the original McCarthy opposers who hasn’t budged. A sixth vote also went against McCarthy, and the House adjourned until 8 p.m. Eastern time so Republicans can convene and discuss. 

It’s been 100 years since it took more than one vote to elect a speaker. When that happened, in 1923, a speaker was elected after nine votes from the House. 

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Lindsey Toomer
Lindsey Toomer

Lindsey Toomer covers politics, social justice and other stories for Newsline. She formerly reported on city government at the Denver Gazette and on Colorado mountain town government, education and environment at the Summit Daily News. Toomer graduated from the Pennsylvania State University, where she also served as managing editor of The Daily Collegian, with degrees in journalism and global studies.

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