One of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives said on Thursday that the Republicans did not ask him for help in appointing a speaker – and he will not help if asked.
“They have a majority,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). They need to find out their speaker.
Cuéllar, a prominent Blue Dogs Democrat, has backed Republicans over the years on a number of thorny issues, including his opposition to abortion and certain gun restrictions — to the point where Republicans have encouraged him (unsuccessfully) to jump parties after the last intervening elections of the year.
This would seem to make Cuellar an early target for Republicans pushing the idea of finding a “Unity” candidate for the Speaker’s seat if their preferred candidate, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.), fails to find support.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska) said Wednesday that some Republicans are in “preliminary talks” with unnamed Democrats about joining forces to break the deadlock.
Cuellar said he knew who the Republicans had approached, but it wasn’t him.
Meanwhile, Bacon emphasizes that the pursuit of the unity candidate will only happen if McCarthy chooses to drop out of the race first—something McCarthy vowed not to do.
“If Kevin gets to the point where he says, ‘OK, I can’t take it anymore,’ that will change the course of the discussion,” Bacon told reporters Wednesday night at the Capitol.
“I believe there are people on the other side of the aisle who will make a deal with us when it comes to committee work and stuff like that. But we don’t want to go too far down that path,” he continued. “Now it’s about Kevin McCarthy.”