Jennings column: Garrett’s caucus key to choice of Boehner’s successor
Posted: Oct 03, 2015 11:04 PM EDTUpdated: Oct 03, 2015 11:04 PM EDT
By ROB JENNINGS
The first Sussex County resident elected to Congress in 90 years could be getting a seat at the head table as Republicans choose the next Speaker of the House.
That is compelling from a local perspective, whether or not one is a fan of U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett of Wantage.
Garrett, true to form, has been circumspect on the maneuvering to replace Speaker John Boehner.
The election to succeed Boehner is scheduled for Thursday. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the frontrunner, met Oct. 1 with some members of the House Freedom Caucus, CNN reported.
Garrett is one of the nine founding members of the caucus. It was launched by hardline conservatives in January soon after a failed effort, backed by Garrett, to oust Boehner.
Garrett is the only caucus founder from the Northeast, which generally elects Republicans less conservative than elsewhere. The caucus does not disclose a roster, but several published reports place its membership at about 40.
The CNN report did not say whether Garrett attended the meeting with McCarthy. His office did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
Assuming members vote as a block, the caucus will have considerable influence on Thursday’s votes for speaker and majority leader.
The next speaker — still likely to be McCarthy, despite his monumental gaffe last week in implying that damaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects was a motive of the Benghazi investigation — will need a majority of the House members showing up to vote.
With the 435-member House consisting of 247 Republicans, “no” votes on McCarthy from more than 29 could force a second round of voting, sort of the House equivalent of a brokered presidential convention.
A deep enough divide among Republicans could give Democrats the ability to determine which Republican gets to be the next speaker — an unacceptable scenario for the majority party.
The only other announced candidate is Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, who got Garrett’s vote when he challenged Boehner in January.
Garrett, as of Saturday morning, had not endorsed a candidate.