(Bloomberg) -- Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who was among those who questioned whether the coronavirus originated in a lab in China, wants to chair a House Armed Services subcommittee. Maryland Republican Andy Harris, one of Congress’s most conspicuous opponents of abortion and recreational marijuana, wants the gavel of the Appropriations subcommittee on health and human services. And a freshman wants two A-list committee assignments.
These are just some of the latest demands from conservative hard-liners in exchange for their support of California Republican Kevin McCarthy to be the next speaker of the House, a person in the negotiations said on Wednesday.
But Gaetz, one of McCarthy’s most vocal detractors shot back on Wednesday night, saying McCarthy had asked them to provide a list of committee requests and then promptly leaked it to the press to make it appear they were angling for personal favors. He emerged from a meeting with McCarthy saying he would “never” vote for him now.
“It was a bad faith effort from Mr. McCarthy to solicit that list from us and then use it to divide our caucus,” Gaetz said following the meeting between GOP leaders, moderates and dissidents after a sixth ballot failed to yield a speaker. “I’m ready to vote all night, all week and never for that person.”
A spokesperson for Harris did not respond to a request for comment on his demands.
As the public battle for the speakership enters its third day, the demands from the 20 Republicans who have supported someone other than McCarthy continue to grow, roiling a caucus already sharply divided as it claims a narrow House majority.
McCarthy can afford to lose only four Republican votes in the face of united Democratic opposition. Concede too little and he won’t get the 218 votes he needs to become speaker. Give too much and he risks alienating his supporters and ceding power to the fringes of his party.
With neither side appearing willing to settle, some lawmakers suggested the stalemate could go on for weeks. McCarthy and his allies are planning to try to adjourn the House Wednesday without a speaker vote to allow more time for negotiations.
Here are some of the other concessions conservatives are demanding, the person said:
- Tennessee Republican Andrew Ogles, who like the other freshmen has yet to take the oath of office, wants seats on the powerful Financial Services and Judiciary committees. Efforts to call Ogles, a conservative who voted for Ohio Republican Jim Jordan for speaker, on his new office line were unsuccessful.
- Hard-line conservatives want to claim four of the nine seats on the House Rules Committee, which would give them outsized influence on what does — and what does not — get debated on the House floor.
- The House Freedom Caucus wants four seats on all A-list committees, a move that would be met with stiff objections from establishment Republicans.
(Updates length of proceedings in sixth paragraph.)
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