Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

House GOP Whip: ‘I’m Not There Yet’ on Syria

While Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday backed a strike on Syria, the No. 3 House Republican, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, is not quite on board.

“I’m not there yet,” the California Republican in charge of counting votes told KGET-TV.  ”I still have some concerns and questions that I need answered.”

Erica Elliott, McCarthy’s spokeswoman, released a statement Tuesday afternoon that called the White House meeting “productive and informative,” but said McCarthy is still “weighing the information.”

The Republican whip operation would obviously be complicated if the GOP whip did not support the measure.

Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, said they were leaving it to the White House to “take the lead on any whipping effort,” noting that votes authorizing military force are votes of conscience that are usually not whipped in the same way other votes are.

Over the weekend, both parties were sniping back and forth over who would have to do the heavy lifting to get the votes.

Multiple House GOP leadership aides said Sunday that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic leadership team would have to supply plenty of Democratic votes if the authorization is to clear Congress.

But a Democratic leadership aide balked at that assumption, telling CQ Roll Call via email that it was disingenuous for Republicans to attempt to preemptively place the onus on Democrats for getting a resolution through the House.

“The more interesting question is, can Boehner convince [Republicans] to vote on the substance, not against the president?” the aide said. “At the end of the day, it will be the Republican leadership’s responsibility to get the votes because they are in the majority.”

A GOP aide called the comments a “troubling indication that the president’s own party in Congress is apparently having trouble rounding up votes, which spells bad news for the president.”

But another Democratic aide shot back, saying it was “interesting that Republicans would talk about a whip operation when they don’t have one.”

That prompted a GOP aide to say that “clearly Democrats are having difficulty convincing their own members to support the president. Name calling and gutter politics won’t fix that problem.”

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