‘Sometimes democracy is messy’: Mace weighs in on House speaker fight

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace addressed concerns over "backdoor deals" that might have been made in the fight to name a new House Speaker this week.
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 2:04 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2023 at 2:12 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (CBS News/AP) - First District Rep. Nancy Mace addressed the four-day battle to elect a House Speaker during Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”

McCarthy endured a grueling weeklong fight to get here, a speaker’s election like no other since the eve of the Civil War. A coalition of 20 holdouts refused to support his speakership unless he yielded to their demands to give away some power. He was forced to roll through 14 ballots before he finally won a majority vote on the 15th vote, but not before the final chaotic scene of shouting between allies and holdouts pushed balloting into early Saturday.

The Republican Congresswoman said she agreed with many Americans who felt the process, which took 15 votes to finally elect Kevin McCarthy to the speaker’s role, looked “kind of like an unnecessary and prolonged food fight.”

“I represent a very purple district. I have all sides to serve,” Mace said. “And there was a lot of frustration with the prolonged and unnecessary food fight that we had this week. But you saw democracy on full display. And I think that’s healthy to have that kind of debate. And I’m glad that it’s over and we can move forward.”

Mace said she believes McCarthy was the only member she knows of who could bring “all the different groups together” within the Republican Party, noting the GOP has different factions, just as the Democrats do.

Mace mentioned former speaker Nancy Pelosi, who she accused of trying to cut backroom deals when moderator Margaret Brennan asked about possible concessions McCarthy might have made to reach the 218 votes necessary to become the new speaker.

“What I saw last week was a small faction of the 20 who are acting just like the old Nancy, trying to cut backroom deals in private, in secret, without anyone knowing what else was going on,” she said.

Mace said the new rules package the House will vote on Monday underwent only one change, on the motion to vacate the chair.

Pelosi did away with the “vacate the chair” rule when Democrats regained the majority in 2019.

In talks over the past week with the hard-liners, McCarthy was forced to reinstate the “motion to vacate the chair” to win over the holdouts. But that means they can now hold it over him every single day.

“We shouldn’t be operating like Nancy Pelosi, this small faction. And they’re the ones that are saying they were, quote, ‘fighting the swamp,’ and then yet went and tried to act like, you know, like they actually are the swamp by trying to do these backroom deals. And we don’t know what they got or didn’t get.”

She said the lack of knowledge on any promises or gentlemen’s handshakes that might have been made gives is “quite ironic” because “that’s not what we ran on.”

Brennan then asked if Mace if the small group of 20 succeeded in cutting deals in secret.

“We’re not sure. We don’t know at this point, and that does give me pause and gives me significant heartburn on what direction we’re going to take,” she said. “I have to represent Republicans, Democrats and Independents. I want to know that the positions that I have are going to have a voice, that it will have weight in the conference. There are a lot of members like me that have issues with some of the policies that we’re going to be working on. Look at what happened after overturning of Roe v Wade. We didn’t have a plan. And I want, as a woman and as a victim of rape, want to know that we’re going to be serious, that we’re going to be balanced in protecting the rights of women and protecting the rights of the unborn. There’s a way to do it both and not be guided by one extreme or the other.”