U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp told reporters he was stunned when Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for speaker of the U.S. House on Thursday. But he said the atmosphere in Congress is such that McCarthy knew he could not get the 218 votes he needed.
Huelskamp, who represents Kansas’ 1st District, was among conservative Republicans who applauded Speaker John Boehner’s resignation last month.
“People are so angry. They’re so distrustful. The words are betrayal, distrust…What you saw in here is folks in Washington finally said, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going on out there?’” Huelskamp said Thursday. “Kevin McCarthy, I think, just learned he can’t pull it together because he was Mr. Boehner’s assistant for way too long.”
“Pull the plug. It’s over,” Huelskamp said.
Huelskamp said House conservatives want the new speaker to be “somebody who actually talks about procedure.”
House Republicans were slated to vote Thursday on a new speaker. McCarthy withdrew just before voting began.
McCarthy faced opposition from a bloc of 30-plus hardline conservative lawmakers, including Huelskamp, who didn’t command the numbers to block him in Thursday’s secret-ballot elections, but might have prevented him from winning a floor vote later on.
Contributing: David Lightman of the McClatchy Washington Bureau and the Associated Press