After McCarthy first sought to replace then-Speaker John Boehner in 2015, only to withdraw amid resistance from the conservative Freedom Caucus, he worked furiously to rebuild and consolidate support at the Republican convention. That meant aligning with some of the same people who once thwarted his rise — like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a one-time Freedom Caucus rebel and rival who is now McCarthy’s trusted Judiciary Committee-leading lieutenant. .
And as he moved closer to becoming speaker in the 117th Congress, McCarthy also developed a relationship with flamboyant Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who shored up his right flank before a drag-out fight for the gavel. having had.
In fact, some of the most important decisions the 57-year-old made in Congress came after the 2020 election: California Republican joins nearly 140 allies in challenging Trump’s loss on Jan. 6, 2021 — despite no evidence Large-scale fraud and an attack on the Capitol by a violent mob, acting at the behest of the then President.
McCarthy initially distanced himself from Trump after the riot, saying Trump was partly to blame for the violence, but later improved relations with the former president at Mar-a-Lago. That swift embrace of Trump within weeks of the attack strained already tenuous relations in the fractious chamber.
One of McCarthy’s most fortuitous decisions in the last Congress was pulling his choice for the Jan. 6 select committee of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to exclude two pro-Trump members from the panel. His removal, an extraordinary move, cleared the way for anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve as its only Republicans on the panel and allowed most committee investigators to work together. impunity. Pelosi had already appointed Cheney to the committee before McCarthy withdrew his choice, and Kinzinger was only added later.
McCarthy’s loyalty to Trump ultimately helped revive the ousted president’s position within the party, and earned the GOP leader his support for the top position in the House. Trump called on McCarthy’s behalf during the speaker election, and also issued an endorsement this week, suggesting McCarthy would “do a good job, maybe even a great job.”
The new speaker’s turn from Trump’s stoicism to warmth has only fueled the portrayal often painted by his detractors: a transactional and malleable leader driven more by the pursuit of power than any specific ideological goal.
On that front, McCarthy’s deal with conservatives that proved essential to winning the speakership included a series of huge concessions to empower his critics. In order to flip enough votes to win, among other commitments, McCarthy agreed to allow a member of the House to force a vote on his removal from office.
Ultimately, McCarthy may owe Trump even more when the dust settles. After McCarthy failed his 14th attempt at the gavel, it was Trump who two major cynics are called — Andy Biggs and Matt Gaetz — according to a person close to Trump, just before they relented.
McCarthy got her start on Capitol Hill as an aide to former Representative Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), before later running for office herself. He later rose through local politics and the California State Assembly before running for and winning a Thomas House seat following the retirement of his former mentor.
Thomas, for his part, later criticized McCarthy To support the challenges in the 2020 election.
He quickly ascended the GOP whip ranks before the 2010 elections, launching the so-called “Young Guns” candidate recruitment program with Ryan and former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Have a Republican wave year. All three have also written a book with the same title.
But after becoming majority whip and then succeeding Cantor as majority leader, McCarthy was forced to drop out of the speaker race in 2015 before even being on the ballot. Republicans criticized him at the time for suggesting on Fox News that the Benghazi special committee of House Republicans was designed to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
Following McCarthy’s withdrawal in 2015, which paved the way for Ryan to become speaker, he became minority leader in 2018 when Wisconsin left Congress following the Democratic takeover of the House.
Meredith McGraw contributed.
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