Democrats Begin House Speaker Negotiations

Voice of America, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

To secure the Speaker’s gavel, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has asserted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) should reach across the aisle.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show,” Clyburn expressed his belief that McCarthy would win the Speakership but suggested should the Republican fail to get enough votes among his caucus, he should consider reaching out to Democrats.

Clyburn noted that if “there are seven or eight” GOP lawmakers who refused to lend their support to McCarthy, he would advise the California Republican to “look on the other side of the aisle” to make up the votes by seeing whether he could strike up “deals.”

During the GOP’s vote to determine their House Speaker candidate in the new Congress, McCarthy won with 188 votes, with 31 GOP lawmakers voting against him.

These figures don’t bode well for McCarthy’s House Speaker ambitions as Republicans only have a slight majority in the new Congress.

Clyburn addressed the potential of McCarthy falling short of the 218 votes needed to secure the Speaker’s gavel, saying he believed Democrats and Republicans could meet and “forge an agenda that will be acceptable to 218 people.”

The South Carolina Democratic urged McCarthy to do “as many things as we possibly can in a bipartisan way,” telling the leader of the incoming GOP House majority to talk to the next House Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

He called on McCarthy to embrace a “bipartisan approach.”

Yet, McCarthy has previously indicated he wouldn’t court any Democratic support, telling reporters at a news conference in November: “We’re the majority as Republicans, and we’ll get there as Republicans.”