February 2, 2023

Republicans emerged from their 9:30 a.m. conference meeting with both sides adhering to their positions just before the new Congress convenes. McCarthy told reporters afterward that the meeting was “intense,” but that he wouldn’t be held hostage by the Freedom Caucus and said he was prepared for a battle on the House floor.

“There’s times we’re going to have to argue with our own members, if they’re looking at — for only positions for themselves, not for the country,” McCarthy said. He added that over the last two months Republicans had been working to develop rules that empower all members of Congress, “but we’re not empowering certain members over others.”

He also said of the proposal from far-right Freedom Caucus members, “I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves. So, we may have a battle on the floor. But the battle is for the conference in the country, and that’s fine.”

Gaetz reiterated his opposition, saying, “Everything I heard hardened my resolve that this town desperately needs change. And if it’s a few of us who have to stand in the breach to force it, we are willing to do so for as long as it takes.”

McCarthy told reporters before heading to the House floor that he’s “not going anywhere” when asked if he would stay in the race. “We did have an intense conference and it’s intense for a purpose,” McCarthy said. “We have worked for a long time.” 

McCarthy said that last night he was presented with an opportunity to get to 218 by a group of Republicans “if I provided certain members with certain positions, certain gavels to take over certain committees to have certain budgets.”

“Well, that’s not about America, and I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves,” McCarthy said. “We may have a battle on the floor.  But the battle is for the conference and the country, and that’s fine with me.”

Rebecca Kaplan, John Nolen

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