Jeffries downplays notion of Democrats voting for moderate GOP Speaker

Hakeem Jeffries
AP/J. Scott Applewhite
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., arrives for leadership elections at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Jeffries has been elected House Democratic leader and will become in the new year the first Black American to lead a major political party in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Sunday downplayed the suggestion that Democrats would join Republicans to elect a moderate GOP lawmaker as Speaker.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Jeffries if the party would support a moderate Republican challenging Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the Speakership.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s a possibility,” Jeffries said. “Right now, Democrats are preparing to get ourselves ready as we transition temporarily from the majority into the minority.”

But the New York Democrat also said “we’ll see what happens,” a remark that comes as scrutiny grows over whether McCarthy will be able to garner a majority of votes for the Speakership next month.

With the GOP poised to win a narrow majority in the House, McCarthy has begun posturing for a floor showdown as multiple Republican lawmakers indicate they will not vote for him. The California Republican can only afford to lose about five votes on the full House floor to still be able to maintain the Speakership.

McCarthy himself has warned that House Democrats could pick the Speaker if enough Republicans “play games” during the floor vote and create an opening for an alternate candidate.

“We have to organize on our side and be prepared to hit the ground running on January 3rd,” Jeffries said on ABC. “They have to organize on their side, and we’ll see what happens.”

Jeffries suggested on Sunday he sees opportunities to work across the aisle if the Republican leader does not bow to the wishes of conservative firebrands, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

“The question on the other side of the aisle is what will Republicans do?” Jeffries told Stephanopoulos. “Are they going to double and triple down on the extremism that we’ve seen from people like Marjorie Taylor Greene? That would be unfortunate, and if that happens, then there’s not going to be real meaningful opportunities to cooperate.”

Tags George Stephanopoulos Hakeem Jeffries Hakeem Jeffries House Democrats Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Marjorie Taylor Greene

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