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Two Republicans huddled with Ocasio-Cortez — and revealed what McCarthy boasted behind closed doors: 'Would never do that'

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Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Two Republican lawmakers — Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.) — were seen conversing with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, unusual meetings considering the ideological chasm dividing the lawmakers.

Reporters later learned the Republicans had huddled with Ocasio-Cortez to ensure that Democrats would not help Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) win the speakership.

What are the details?

Gosar reportedly told Ocasio-Cortez that McCarthy boasted in private meetings with Republicans that even if some GOP members refused to support his speakership bid, Democrats would eventually help him by not showing up to vote.

But Ocasio-Cortez told ABC News reporter Gabe Ferris that she confirmed with Gosar that Democrats "would never do that."

Current House procedure dictates that a candidate for speaker must earn a majority of roll-call votes to win the speakership. But if some members vote "present" or do not show up for the roll-call vote, then a speaker candidate may win by earning a plurality of votes, so long as there is a quorum of members present.

Ocasio-Cortez later revealed that Gaetz had relayed the same message — that McCarthy said Democrats would walk away from the vote to lower the number of votes he needs to become speaker — and she similarly denied it.

The Intercept reported:

Gaetz told Ocasio-Cortez that McCarthy has been telling Republicans that he’ll be able to cut a deal with Democrats to vote present, enabling him to win a majority of those present and voting, according to Ocasio-Cortez. She told Gaetz that wasn’t happening, and also double-checked with Democratic party leadership, confirming there’d be no side deal.

"McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept of her conversation with Gaetz on McCarthy’s failed ploy. “And I fact checked and said absolutely not.”

What is the problem?

A faction of about 20 Republicans are blocking McCarthy's bid for the speaker because they believe his leadership will empower the status quo of Washington.

The House will reconvene on Wednesday for more rounds of voting. The last time a speaker was not elected on the first roll-call vote happened in 1923, when it required nine ballots to elect a speaker. It remains unclear whether McCarthy can shore up enough support to prevent endless voting.

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