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U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman backs McCarthy, following ‘written proposal’

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Scott Morgan
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U.S. House
Debeate continues into friday over who will lead the 118th U.S. House of Representatives.

Update, 1:11 p.m. — Rep. ralph Norman has voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the 12th round.

Jan 6, 8:35 a.m. — U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-5th), one of 20 holdouts preventing U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from being named the next Speaker of the House, says he is reviewing a written proposal that could lead to his voting for McCarthy.

Norman confirmed to a group of reporters Thursday night that he would be reviewing the written proposal.

Early Friday morning, Norman appeared on Fox, where he said the proposal had several “common sense” measures that would make a McCarthy speakership more favorable to some members of the Freedom Caucus – a group of congressional Republicans at the farthest righthand side of the GOP who have so far kept McCarthy from securing the position of speaker.

In the Fox interview, Norman said that McCarthy had not worked with the Freedom Caucus prior to November’s election – which Republicans had expected to go far more in their favor than it ended up going – on proposals it wanted to have in place for the coming Republican-led House session.

One proposal would be to have 72 hours to consider a bill before voting on it; another is an assurance of more fiscal responsibility through spending reforms – a key critique Norman has leveled against McCarthy as House minority leader.

Not voting for McCarthy over 11 rounds this week, Norman said Friday, “is the only way we had to get the reforms he should have put forward anyway. Had we gone lockstep and elected him, as a lot of the other Republicans did, there would be no chance to have these reforms made.”

Two hundred House Republicans have voted for McCarthy through all 11 rounds. He needs 218 votes to win the speakership, in a House that Republicans barely control this session.

Opponents of the Freedom Caucus’ tactics say the members are holding the speaker election process hostage in order to gain key positions in the coming congress that will allow them to guide bills and potential investigations into the Biden administration.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), for example, told the Omaha World-Herald Tuesday that the holdouts on McCarthy are “making demands and acting like they are more righteous and pure than anyone else.”

South Carolina’s House delegation is otherwise in favor of McCarthy. U.S. Reps Jeff Duncan (R-3rd), a fellow member of the Freedom Caucus, and William Timmons (R-4th) have not publicly commented on the proceedings.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-1st), who got a boost from McCarthy in her reelection bid this past November, posted this tweet Tuesday night: “So much irony tonight. One complaint is they want the majority of the majority to bring a bill to the floor. But yet they don’t want to accept the majority of the majority for Speaker.”

On Thursday, newly elected U.S. Rep. Russel Fry (R-7th), told Conway’s ABC affiliate station WPDE, “Most of what I'm hearing is that they want to tweak the rules a little bit further ... and so, there's some open exchange of dialogue that seemed to be going on about that, and I think that's a healthy thing."

Norman himself has defended the delay in electing a speaker by saying that the process is “healthy debate,” and not the “fracture” some members of both parties are making it out to be.

“We’ll all come together and get behind whoever it is,” Norman said.

While voting is set to continue Friday, House members are not expected to come to a consensus before the weekend. Norman said, however, that it is up to McCarthy to work with holdout Republicans.

“Hopefully, we can come to some conclusion,” he told Fox & Friends. “If not, we’ll sit here as long as it takes.”

Note: Headline and blurb have been rewritten to reflect current facts as of Friday afternoon.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his work including a national Edward R. Murrow.