The bickering between Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy has begun as the embattled GOP leader battles to become the next Speaker of the House.
The two men clashed over what they said during a private phone call Wednesday night when President McCarthy called after the midterm elections.
Biden said he offered congratulations “if” Republicans win the House majority, but added that the chance of Democrats taking control of the chamber “still lives.”
“I said, if you win the majority, congratulations. But congratulations so far, you’ve made some profit,” the president told reporters Thursday night.
But McCarthy said in the call that Biden admitted his Democrats had lost the majority, paving the way for Republicans to take over.
“It was short. He just wanted to call me, congratulate me from then on, talk about where we can work together. Look, I said, I will work with anyone who wants to put America first and steer us in the right direction,” McCarthy told Fox News on Thursday night.
“He congratulated me, so for anyone who thinks we didn’t get the majority, at least Joe believes we did,” he said.
Control of Congress remains undecided three days after Americans cast their votes in the midterm elections. Several competitive House races on the West Coast are still in the process of voting.
President Joe Biden (above) and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy bickered over what they said in a phone call on Wednesday; Biden said he offered congratulations “if” Republicans win the House majority, but added that the chance of Democrats taking control of the chamber “still lives.”
Kevin McCarthy (top right) told Fox News that Biden admitted the Democrats had lost the House majority; “He congratulated me, so for anyone who thinks we didn’t get the majority, at least Joe believes we did,” he said.
As for Biden and McCarthy, the two men are said to have a frosty relationship. Prior to Wednesday night, they had spoken on the phone only once during Biden’s presidency.
“I haven’t had much opportunity to talk to him,” Biden said during a news conference about McCarthy on Wednesday.
The president is known to have a better relationship with Mitch McConnell. He was in the Senate for many years with the Republican from Kentucky.
Biden has also criticized Republicans who have close ties to Donald Trump. McCarthy is a staunch ally of the former president.
“This is a MAGA party now,” Biden said of the current crop of Republicans. “These guys are a different breed of cat. They’re not like what I’ve served for so many years.”
For his part, McCarthy and his Republicans have vowed to investigate the administration of Biden and the president’s son, Hunter, if they win the majority.
And McCarthy does not rule out impeaching either Biden or any members of his administration.
“We will never use impeachment for political ends,” McCarthy told CNN shortly before the election. “That doesn’t mean that if something presented itself, it wouldn’t be used at another time.”
As of Friday morning, Republicans needed just seven more seats to secure the House majority.
The GOP is expected to prevail, but the victory is taking longer than expected as a predicted ‘red wave’ of victories never materialized.
The lack of a wave has left McCarthy in a bit of trouble with chatter among some conservative Republicans about his chances of becoming the next speaker of the House.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus threatens to ban McCarthy from the presidency if he doesn’t work with them on a list of demands, Politico reported Thursday.
“Look, we were told we were going to have an unbelievable, unbelievable wave,” Arizona GOP Representative Andy Biggs, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told an online streaming show.
“If that had been the case… you’d say, ‘Well, okay, Kevin’s the presumptive Republican nominee for speaker. But I think we should have a serious discussion.’
But McCarthy turned down that speech.
“I’m not worried,” he told Fox News. ‘People can have input, we want a very open input process. We’re getting a smaller majority, so we’re going to find out we’re working together.’
House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy announced his long-awaited bid for the House Speakership on Wednesday, but it may face some unexpected bumps after his side’s disappointing performance in the midterms.
McCarthy argued that a majority was a majority and size didn’t matter. But a slim majority of seats would give him little room for maneuver where any legislator could use their vote to advance personal priorities.
“They don’t give hammers per small, medium or large, they just give you the hammer. We will be able to rule,” McCarthy noted.
And he said the Republicans have achieved their election goal – beating the Democrats, which would remove Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
‘What was our mission? To win the majority, stop Biden’s agenda and fire Nancy Pelosi. That has all been accomplished.’
So far, no public rival has appeared to challenge McCarthy. Lawmakers begin to return to Washington DC next week, where each party will hold internal elections to determine their leadership for the coming year.