There was chaos on Capitol Hill on Thursday after front-runner Rep. Kevin McCarthy withdrew his name from the House speakership election. The closed-door House Republican meeting that was supposed to emerge with a speaker nominee spilled out into the hallway outside of the House Ways and Means Room in the Longworth Office Building. That’s where reporters rushed lawmakers to find out exactly what had happened and where the conference might go from here.
Here’s a peek into that hallway, in 60 seconds:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a more conservative alternative running against McCarthy, called the announcement “absolutely stunning”:
“Look, it was totally, it was just absolutely stunning what happened. Nobody anticipated that that was going to happen. I love Kevin McCarthy; he’s a good man and that was a tough thing to do, but God bless him.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., offered his own re-enactment of McCarthy’s decision:
“‘I am not the one’ is what he said. ‘I am not the one to get to 218.’ I don’t know if that was possible or not, he apparently decided he’d much rather stay as majority leader.”
The House GOP announced it was postponing the speakership election, and almost immediately, rumors started around who else might enter the race.
Some called for a “caretaker” speaker — someone who could keep the speaker seat warm until new elections can be held in January 2017. That would likely be a senior member who wouldn’t run in ’17.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said a caretaker would help the party “stay unified in our basic principles”:
“I think it’d be better to have a caretaker so we can stay unified in our basic principles rather than focus around a personality.”
One of Rohrabacher’s suggestions for a caretaker was Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. Only Rogers wasn’t on board:
“I don’t think I’m the person for it.”
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., addressed something of an elephant in the hallway — a compromise he said people “may not want to talk about,” but he said could be a “very real possibility”:
“We may need a bipartisan coalition to elect the next speaker, that’s a very real possibility right now, and I think everybody who’s honest about this knows it.”
Rep. Daniel Webster — another candidate running for speaker who was endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus — didn’t call for bipartisanship but instead for Republicans to “come together and be a group”:
“I think there’s this real desire for us to come together and be a group. A group that’s coalesced around the idea of moving forward.”
Despite all the chaos, Rep. Adam Kinzinger seemed confident that the Republican Party will find its way:
“Again, we’re in kind of, somewhat, chaotic territory, but we will find a way through this and it’s going to be a way that serves our party and the American people the best.”
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