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Tom Emmer says he has "no interest" in replacing House Speaker McCarthy

Government shutdown looms as McCarthy works to bring GOP together
Government shutdown looms as McCarthy works to bring GOP together 03:24

Conservative hardliners have started to float potential alternative candidates should House Speaker Kevin McCarthy be ousted, as internal frustration with the California Republican has grown, according to four GOP sources familiar with the conversations.

But the rebels still have not coalesced around a single candidate and it's not clear anyone else could get 218 votes – the same problem they ran into during the speaker's race.

In recent days, some of the names that have been floated in House Freedom Caucus meetings and other private conversations include Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the House GOP Whip. The Washington Post was first to report Emmer's name, though he told the publication he has no interest in the job. Emmer offered the following statement to WCCO when asked about that report:

"I fully support Speaker McCarthy. He knows that and I know that. I have zero interest in palace intrigue. End of discussion."    

Other names in the mix include Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee; and Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Sources told CNN Green was approached by some members about the idea, but Green also said he wasn't interested.

Government shutdown looms

Lawmakers are expected to spend the weekend in Washington, trying to come up with an agreement to keep the government funded and running. The Senate is on track to vote on a bipartisan short-term spending measure to keep the government open through November this weekend.

Some House and Senate Republicans are pushing for a compromise short-term bill to keep the government running. It would include both border security and Ukraine funding.

If the shutdown is anything like the last one in 2018 to 2019, which lasted 35 days, the long-term impacts could be significant. Here's whats on the line if the shutdown happens:

  • Federal workers in the state will either be furloughed or forced to work for no pay. That includes about 20,000 Minnesotans and nearly 19,000 U.S. military and reserve members.
  • On top of that, 108,000 women, children and babies will lose access to supplemental food benefits under the WIC program.
  • Also, the 460,000 who depend on SNAP for food will lose those benefits.
  • Agencies dealing with veterans issues, social security issues and medicare issues will all be shut down.

Democratic leaders say it will be difficult to help their constituents. 

Gaetz threatens removal vote

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has repeatedly threatened to force a removal vote regarding McCarthy, known as the motion to vacate, but he has not indicated when he might do it, other than to say he is waiting to see how the shutdown fight plays out, though a vote could be triggered at any time.

GOP sources told CNN there is no formal mobilization effort among hardliners to recruit a challenger or whip motion to vacate votes. But should McCarthy face a removal vote, the speaker is likely to fight it out on the floor, making the push to remove him more challenging.

McCarthy critics believe they'll have the votes to oust him, even as the speaker has repeatedly maintained he's not concerned about such a vote and believes he could win it.

"You know, I think that members should be looking at for stronger leadership," said Rep. Eli Crane, an Arizona Republican who told CNN he could support an effort to oust McCarthy. "And you know what, quite frankly, I know that people in my district that I represent want to see stronger leadership. So I'm all about it."

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