Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dispelled rumors that he would be resigning from Congress after losing his leadership position, Fox News reported. The California Republican set the record straight Friday with network personality Bret Baier.
The rumor came from a Politico piece that claimed "two people familiar with the matter" said McCarthy was on his way out but offered to stay during the transition "in order to help the party steady itself after a seismic shakeup." McCarthy claimed he said no such thing.
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz initiated the process to get McCarthy removed as Speaker of the House, citing his trouble negotiating to avoid a government shutdown. After a close 216-210 vote Tuesday, McCarthy was ousted.
In the meantime, North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry has become speaker pro tempore until another is chosen. The top three lawmakers eyed for the position are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA).
Fox News announced Friday that Baier would host a special Monday to give the candidates a platform for debate, the New York Post reported. This would have come just before the House Republican Conference was set to meet Tuesday in a meeting closed to the public and begin voting on a new speaker starting Wednesday.
It seemed the top contenders were willing to appear with the "Special Report" host as the network publicized the event. Fox sold it as an opportunity for Baier to "press the congressmen on who should be the next Speaker of the House and discuss the issues facing Congress and the Republican party going forward."
However, Jordan, Hern, and Scalise have each backed out of this "joint interview" the network planned. The three seemed to come to an agreement that this wasn't a constructive way to proceed.
Jordan said he was no longer interested in the televised forum because he "believes it is crucial to meet with the GOP conference before" debating in public. Although Hern has not officially thrown in for the job, he had already said he would "not be participating in the televised debate" in a post on Twitter.
"We need to make this decision as a conference, not on TV. The Republican conference needs a family discussion," Hern added.
Scalise reportedly backed out after finding out that Jordan and Hern had done so already. Other GOP lawmakers have gone on the record criticizing the idea of a televised event to pick the next speaker.
"Right now, we’ve got a lot to work out that’s very delicate, emotions and otherwise, and this is not going to help our conference work through some very difficult times," Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) told Axios. "We know it’s a debate, we don’t need to play semantic games," he added.
An anonymous Republican lawmaker also told the news outlet that it was a "bad idea that will add chaos to the headlines." Baier believes it was dead in the water because of a misconception about the nature of the event as some perceived that the host was "moderating a debate privately for the Republican caucus," Baier said.
"Bottom line is, it leaked and then there became pressure from other members on these three to not do that," he said. "So they had all agreed, the pressure built, and that’s what happened. It’s not going to happen on Monday," he later concluded.
There was no good reason to oust McCarthy at this crucial time in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election. Republicans have needlessly put themselves in a tough spot, and just about any move from here could prove damaging to the party's hopes to regain the White House and control of Congress.