State Auditor-elect Andrew Sorrell encouraged the Alabama delegation to “vote no” for U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, provided that the Republican moderate does not fully concede to rule changes proposed by more conservative representatives.

Sorrell insisted that he rarely feels inclined to weigh in on national issues but said reinstituting the old House rules was critical. 

McCarthy is the Republican nominee for the leadership role but faces opposition from conservative Republicans, namely those involved with the Freedom Caucus, who have vowed not to vote for him unless he reverses changes to rules made by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during her tenure as Speaker.

“I encourage Alabama Congressmen to vote no on Kevin McCarthy for Speaker this week unless he fixes the House rules,” Sorrell told 1819 News. “As long as he insists on continuing Pelosi-era rules regarding the motion to vacate the chair, Republicans should oppose his speakership.”

Among the proposed rule changes is the one surrounding the motion to vacate the Speaker of the House. Before Democrats took control of the House in 2019, a motion to vacate the Speaker could be filed by any member, thereby bringing the objection to leadership up for a vote. 

Pelosi changed the rule in 2019 so that the motion could only be brought up for a vote if it had the backing of a party caucus or conference.

“This important motion acts as a check and balance on the power of the Speaker in Washington,” Sorrell said. “... Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi changed the rule from requiring one member to make the motion to requiring the majority of one of the two caucuses to support the motion.”

Over the weekend, McCarthy agreed to change the rule to allow the motion to be brought up for a vote if five members of the majority party signed onto a resolution. Nevertheless, some Republicans still think that’s not enough and want the rule changed back to the way it was before.

Sorrell said that the original rule has worked since the House adopted them in 1837 as part of Thomas Jefferson’s Manual and that any number greater than one is too much. He also supported requiring all bills to be posted 72 hours before a vote so that representatives can have time to review the bill before they vote on it.

“The Speaker should serve at the pleasure of the members and doesn’t deserve to be insulated from challenges that may result from his or her poor leadership,” Sorrell said.

On Monday, several Republican U.S. Representatives from Alabama gave their support to McCarthy for Speaker. Among them were U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) and U.S. Rep.-elect Dale Strong (R-Huntsville). U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) was the only one not to endorse McCarthy explicitly and said he was working with the Freecom Caucus to negotiate for rule changes.

1819 News also reached out to Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) but received no response.

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