Scalise Smoke Signals

U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
January 4, 2023

The G.O.P.’s “working group” late this afternoon may have been the moment of truth for McCarthy in his quest to be elected Speaker. His allies seemed to be optimistic that they would somehow be able to reach some sort of compromise after six bruising rounds of voting. But from Matt Gaetz’s latest vow to “never [vote] for that person,” it sounds like McCarthy’s last-ditch plea may not have landed. 

Former member Rodney Davis, who has been dispatched by the not-yet-Speaker’s office to help whip votes, told me the meeting itself was “telltale” for McCarthy. “There’s a huge sense of optimism right now because they’re talking and they’re offering up solutions,” said Davis. 

Will that entail once unthinkable trades, like Gaetz becoming chairman of the armed services subcommittee, as has been reported? It’s possible, Davis suggested. (This would also have major repercussions for Ukraine aid, as my colleague Julia Ioffe reported.) But I still don’t think it would move Gaetz. This comes as Ken Buck intimated after the fifth vote that he’s done with voting for McCarthy (though he still did for a sixth vote) and announced on CNN that perhaps they should be talking a bit more openly about Steve Scalise