A top House Democrat offered rare praise for Rep.-elect Chip Roy, R-Texas, a staunch conservative who is one of 20 hardline Republicans opposing GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be speaker of the House.
California Rep.-elect Ted Lieu, the new vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, on Wednesday said he has respect for Roy’s position – even if they have fierce disagreements on policy and governing philosophy.
‘I don’t agree with @chiproytx on most issues. But I believe that he believes in what he says. I respect that a lot more than Republicans like @GOPLeader and @EliseStefanik who will say anything to gain power,’ Leiu tweeted. ‘Will be interesting to see if folks like Chip Roy stand up or fold.’
Roy is one of 20 House Republicans who have held out in opposition to McCarthy’s attempt to become the next House speaker. Over the course of three votes Tuesday, the GOP leader failed to reach the 218-vote threshold to win, as Republicans remain divided over conservative demands for rules changes that would decentralize power from the speaker’s office and the rules committee in the House.
THE VOTE FOR HOUSE SPEAKER: LIVE UPDATES
The rebels, members of the House Freedom Caucus, have faced criticism from their colleagues for failing to name a viable alternative to McCarthy and preventing the new GOP majority from going to work. Roy claimed that the Republican establishment has discouraged potential challengers to McCarthy by threatening to strip members of their committee assignments.
He told ‘America Reports’ that he and others were threatened by McCarthy ally Mike Rogers, R-Ala., during the GOP conference Tuesday morning over their withheld support for the House GOP leader. The meeting was described by other lawmakers as ‘hostile.’ Roy said he believes McCarthy ‘lost votes’ because of it.
‘Mike Rogers threatened to say he was going to kick those of us off of any committees who dared to challenge the coronation of the speaker. And the reality is, that was a threat. And it was not received well by a lot of people in the room,’ Roy said.
‘We will not back down until we get in a room and decide how we will be able to stand up and fight for the American people no matter who the speaker is.’ he added.
In House floor speeches and media appearances, Roy has consistently said his opposition to McCarthy is not personal. His view is that Congress needs to change the way it operates, and fighting over who should be the next House speaker may be a catalyst for that change.
Republicans supporting McCarthy say the continued opposition ‘damages the conference.’
‘McCarthy earned the right to be the speaker, and the House Republican Conference overwhelmingly selected him to be the Republican nominee,’ Rep.-elect Austin Scott, R-Ga., told Fox News.
‘Any vote against him damages the conference and our ability to govern,’ he added. ‘Those opposing McCarthy are putting their selfish motivations over what’s best for our nation.’
Rep.-elect Dan Censhaw, R-Texas, went so far as to call the holdouts ‘enemies’ who he said, ‘have made it clear that they prefer a Democrat agenda than a Republican one.’
In spite of the opposition, McCarthy has vowed to remain a candidate for speaker.
‘There’s times we’re going to have to argue with our own members if they’re looking out for only positions for themselves, not for the country,’ McCarthy told reporters Tuesday. ‘Look, I have the record for the longest speech ever on the floor. I don’t have a problem getting a record for the most votes for speaker too.’
The House will reconvene Wednesday afternoon to continue voting for a new speaker.
Fox News’ Houston Keene and Yael Halon contributed to this report.