Last Updated on January 1, 2023
Kevin McCarthy, with the help of CNN, has attempted his last-ditch effort to try to seize Nancy Pelosi’s gavel and claim the long-pined-for title of U.S. House Speaker.
In a report made public by CNN’s Melanie Zanona just ahead of New Year’s Eve, the China-aligned TV network carried heavy water in the effort to try to convince readers, and particularly the conservative House Freedom Caucus, that McCarthy is actually negotiating in good faith with the Republican Conference.
Kevin’s last-gasp attempt to win the speakership is seen by many Republican House members as a “Hail Mary,” according to multiple interviews National File has conducted with members of the U.S. House.
“Heil NANCY is more like it,” said one Republican lawmaker.
“McCarthy offers his critics a key concession in effort to clinch House speakership,” CNN’s headline reads.
Thankfully, most of the handful of CNN’s audience — and even some conservatives who saw the fictional story tweeted out, reacted negatively to the prospect of a McCarthy speakership.
“The historic rule allowed one member to file the motion to vacate. Pelosi radically changed it,” a senior Hill staffer told National File.
“The freedom caucus wanted the historic rule reimposed but McCarthy has submitted a compromise effort at 5 members. The Republicans are dead set against keeping any part of Pelosi’s rule”
So where did Zanona and CNN go wrong?
Kevin McCarthy Tries to Keep Nancy Pelosi’s House Rules; CNN Blatantly Lies in Effort to Boost Him
Predictably, Zanona’s article neglected to mention that the offer McCarthy actually endeavored to keep a major measure of Nancy Pelosi’s House Rules.
At issue is the critical “Motion to Vacate the Chair,” a parliamentary rule that has been in place since Thomas Jefferson’s time, that allows a single member of the House to introduce the topic of a fifty-fifty up or down vote on the tenure of the occupant of the “chair” — The Speaker of the House.
Zanona neglected to include the fact that a single member could file the motion, but that it would not be privileged — meaning, that any Member can offer such a motion at any time and is subject to an immediate vote. Effectively, that means Pelosi and Steny Hoyer’s Rules Package took away autonomy from the Democrat conference to remove her.
Instead of covering this particular rule, Zanona attempted to gaslight CNN’s audience by convincing them that McCarthy was doing House conservatives a favor by reducing the number required to file the motion from fifty — a fictional number, which has never been in place under Republican majority — to five members.
A requirement of five members to file the motion to remove the House Speaker is 500% greater than the number required previously, when Donald Trump was President and Paul Ryan was the House Speaker.
Zanona’s CNN piece reads as follows:
One of the numbers that has come up in recent conversations between McCarthy and GOP lawmakers – and which has not been previously reported – is a five-person threshold, according to two of the Republican sources.
Zanona continues on to blatantly misrepresent the particulars around how the “Motion to Vacate the Chair” actually works.
Currently, the majority of the House GOP is required to call for the so-called motion to vacate the speaker’s chair.
This is not accurate.
Currently, with Pelosi as House Speaker, no number of GOP members could successfully file the Motion to Vacate the Chair.
Either Zanona and CNN are ignorant of a blatantly simple parliamentary procedure that requires simple “greater than or less than” mathematics to interpret, or Zanona and CNN have chosen to blatantly lie to their readers about a key House Rule that provides accountability for the leader of the majority party in the U.S. House.
Whether this lie was orchestrated in concert with Kevin McCarthy’s office or whether Zanona stuck out on her own with the imprimatur of CNN in order to mislead the public is unclear.
National File has reached out to Zanona, and spoke with her briefly by phone, but she declined to comment about her misrepresentation of the House Rules.
After setting her lynchpin to lie down, Zanona’s report continues:
But some conservative hardliners are pushing for a single member to be able to call for such a vote, which they see as an important mechanism to hold the speaker accountable.
A five-person threshold, however, may be too low for the moderate wing of the party, some of whom have privately suggested they would be willing to agree on a 50-person threshold.
And some of McCarthy’s fiercest critics, including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, told CNN they see the five-person threshold as still too high, underscoring the significant challenge McCarthy faces as he works to lock down the speakership.
“No, less than 5!!” Norman said in a text message of the proposed motion to vacate threshold. “2 or less (my opinion).”
And Gaetz said: “He’s gotta get down to 1.”
Getting rid of Nancy Pelosi’s House Rules by returning the vital rule known as “The Motion to Vacate the Chair” is widely recognized as the key sticking point for conservatives in the House, including many members of the House Freedom Caucus.
CNN is forced to recognize the same.
As Zanona writes,
A compromise on the motion to vacate – which McCarthy previously said he would not budge on – could be key to unlocking the votes he needs to secure the speakership. And his willingness to negotiate on the issue also shows how desperate McCarthy is to seal the deal, even if it means giving away some of his power.
The last bait-and-switch McCarthy tried to pull in an effort to keep Nancy Pelosi’s House Rules was the minimum vote required to approve the Motion to Vacate the Chair.
As National File reported:
Establishment-leaning members of the House Freedom Caucus are considering a compromise to make Kevin McCarthy the next Speaker of the House; a compromise that involves keeping Nancy Pelosi’s rules, while adding a watered-down version of the crucial motion to vacate the chair.
Under the compromise being considered by some Freedom Caucus members, to come over to the side of establishment leader Kevin McCarthy, a two-thirds majority will be required to “vacate” the position of speaker.
McCarthy has seemingly scrapped his effort to keep the two-thirds requirement, and has opted instead to try to slip the 5 members to file requirement by the watchmen.
National File will continue to monitor the speaker saga as it develops.