Congressional Leadership Fund, Club for Growth to support McCarthy’s bid

A super PAC aligned with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced a breakthrough deal on Wednesday with a conservative group that was formerly opposed to the congressman’s House speakership bid.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, an independent super PAC that backs Republican House candidates, reached an agreement with the Club for Growth, an influential conservative nonprofit, on backing McCarthy.

As part of the deal, CLF will not spend money in any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts and the group also agreed to not grant resources to other super PAC’s to do the same. 

“Kevin McCarthy has effectively led House Republicans from the Minority to the Majority and we want to see him continue to lead the party so we can pick up seats for the third cycle in a row,” CLF President Dan Conston said in a statement

“CLF has never spent a dollar against a Republican incumbent before and obviously will continue that policy in the future,” Conston added. “CLF will continue to support incumbents in primaries as well as challengers in districts that affect the Majority, which proved to be critical to winning the Majority in 2022.”

Club for Growth had urged lawmakers this week to vote against McCarthy for speaker unless certain concessions were made.

The group warned on Monday that the speaker election will be counted on their legislative scorecard, which grades representatives on their support for “pro-growth, free-market policies.” 

Rep. Dan Bishop has refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy.

One of the group’s major points of concern was the Congressional Leadership Fund’s ability to support primary challengers to incumbent Republicans. Club for Growth also wanted a speaker that would support rule changes permitting amendments to spending bills and allow hardliners to hold leadership positions. 

“This agreement on super PAC’s fulfills a major concern we have pressed for,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement

“We understand that Leader McCarthy and Members are working on a rules agreement that will meet the principles we have set out previously. Assuming these principles are met, Club for Growth will support Kevin McCarthy for Speaker,” McIntosh added. 

CLF’s statement announcing the deal noted that “No one in Congress or their staff has directed or suggested CLF take any action here.” 

The deal is a good sign for McCarthy, who has failed to reach the vote threshold to be elected House speaker six times since the new Congress convened on Tuesday.

The California Republican noted on Wednesday that the deal shows momentum is in his favor, and reports Wednesday night indicate that he has agreed to a number of other concessions that may get him more votes on Thursday when the House reconvenes at noon.

“You know what I saw on TV today? ‘Oh, this has to be a day that Kevin gets movement.’ So let’s measure it: You’ve got the Club for Growth. You see that? Is that movement in your view?” McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday. 

Six of the 20 GOP holdouts who have refused to vote for McCarthy to be House speaker were endorsed by Club for Growth PAC in 2022. They are: Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Mary Miller (R-Ill.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), and Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), and Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.).

CNN reported Wednesday that McCarthy proposed allowing just one member to call for a vote to oust a speaker, adding more members of the House Freedom Caucus to the House Rules Committee, and promised to vote on a term limit and border security bill in an effort to gather more support from opposing blocs. 

Citing several GOP sources, the news outlet noted that the concessions are still not likely to get McCarthy 218 votes but will close the gap.

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