Top McCarthy supporter says GOP holdouts ‘beginning to extort the American people’

A Michigan Republican congressman-elect who nominated Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for Speaker of the House before one of the several marathon votes Thursday said that the behavior of the no-Kevin holdouts borders on extortion.

Rep.-elect John James – a Congressional freshman who previously ran for Senate in 2020 against Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich – said while he remains eager to work with the 20 Republicans who refused thus far to support the erstwhile minority leader, they are preventing the House from working for the American people and blunting the Biden agenda.

James called it ironic that reported concessions to some members are being made behind closed doors between vote rounds, while the same lawmakers preach transparency and good government.

He added that McCarthy has burnished the conservative bona fides these 20 members vociferously support themselves.


“We know that Kevin McCarthy has taken massive strides toward lowering the debt. He’s taking massive strides toward changing the [House] rules… And as I said today, he actually has since becoming minority leader in 2019 to right now won the majority back faster than Nancy Pelosi.”

James said the new Republican majority is poised to effect positive change in Washington but cannot because the 20 holdouts are refusing to “take a win.”

“I’m excited to work with everyone to include the 20 holdouts, to work forward toward a conservative America to try to fix this. But it’s not going to happen unless my colleagues come to their senses,” he said.


McCarthy was seen late Thursday making rounds on the House floor engaging with members, including a short clip captured by a C-SPAN camera that appeared to show the speaker candidate in an intense discussion with one of the 20 holdouts, Rep.-elect Andy Ogles IV of Tennessee.

Alternative speaker candidates nominated by McCarthy’s critics included Rep.-elect Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Rep.-elect Byron Donalds of Florida, and former President Trump. The Speaker of the House does not have to be a sitting lawmaker.

“There’s a thin line between discourse and discord,” James said on Fox News. “We passed it back on Monday out of conference – Right now, we’re beginning to cross that line between negotiation and extortion. These 20 are beginning to extort the American people.”


“We’re wasting – in this Biden agenda – over $4 billion per day in our national debt. Right now, since Tuesday, we’ve lost 600 people to the opioid crisis. Right now, our borders are open, China has nuclear warheads pointed toward us, and they’re taking a billion and a half dollars per day in our intellectual property. 

“And we’re talking about things that the American people frankly don’t care about.”

James further declared the 20 members who have refused to support McCarthy “Nancy Pelosi’s best friends,” claiming they have effectively aligned procedurally with Democrats in “stymieing the America First agenda.”


He urged constituents of the 20 holdouts to call their offices and demand they unite with the rest of the caucus to allow the House to function in regular order.

“There’s not any time to waste. Democrats are winning because of our own colleagues who refuse to take a victory,” he said.

In each of the vote rounds, Democrats have uniformly supported Rep.-elect Hakeem S. Jeffries of New York.

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