The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday announced that it would endorse Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for speaker, a jab at Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who is running for the post and has served as outgoing Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) second in command.
The move was described by veteran ABC News political reporter Jonathan Karl as "war."
And it's war in the House GOP conference. The 37-member House Freedom Caucus endorses Daniel Webster over @GOPLeader for Speaker— jonkarl (@jonkarl) 1444254344.0
House Republicans, nonetheless, are still expected to nominate McCarthy for speaker Thursday.
Hse GOP Conf meets for "conclave" to formally nominate a Spkr at noon et Thurs. Vote is secret as mbrs write their choice on slips of paper— Chad Pergram (@Chad Pergram) 1444268186.0
But, the real fight could come on Oct. 29, when the House is scheduled to vote as an entire body on who should fill the seat.
"Most of us have recognized that what happens tomorrow is really not the fight. It's about the floor," said Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, a Freedom Caucus member.
The five-term California Congressman needs to score 218 votes to be elected to speaker. The candidacies of Webster and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) could strip enough votes from McCarthy to give him trouble.
Conservatives say they'll use that threshold to make demands in exchange for their support, perhaps promises to stop punishing Republicans who disobey leaders and to give rank-and-file lawmakers more power to pick committee chairs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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