Cuellar says Republicans shouldn’t count on him for help

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, speaks during a campaign event, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in San Antonio. Cuellar, a 17-year incumbent and one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress, is in his toughest reelection campaign, facing a May 24 primary runoff against progressive Jessica Cisneros. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

One of the House’s most conservative Democrats said Thursday that he has not been approached by Republicans seeking help in seating a Speaker — and he wouldn’t give the assistance if he were asked. 

“They’ve got the majority,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said. “They need to figure out their Speaker.” 

Cuellar, a prominent Blue Dog Democrat, has sided with Republicans on a number of hot-button issues over the years, including his opposition to abortion and certain gun limits — to the point that Republicans had encouraged him (unsuccessfully) to jump parties following last year’s midterm elections.

That would seem to make Cuellar an early target for Republicans floating the idea of finding a “unity” candidate to fill the speaker’s seat if their preferred choice, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), fails to find the support. 

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said Wednesday that some Republicans are in “preliminary talks” with unnamed Democrats over the possibility of joining forces to break the logjam.

Cuellar said he knows who the Republicans have reached out to, but it’s not him. 

Meanwhile, Bacon is emphasizing that the pursuit of a unity candidate will happen only if McCarthy decides to step out of the race first — something McCarthy has vowed not to do. 

“If Kevin gets to a point where he says, ‘Ok, I can’t do it anymore,’ then it changes the discussion,” Bacon told reporters Wednesday evening in the Capitol. 

“I believe that there would be folks on the other side of the aisle that would make a deal with us when it comes to working on committees and things like that. But we don’t want to go down this path too far,” he continued. “This is about Kevin McCarthy right now.”

Tags Don Bacon Kevin McCarthy

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