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GOP congressman signals confidence in McCarthy capturing speakership: ‘We will get there’

<i>Mary F. Calvert/Reuters</i><br/>
Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

By Daniella Diaz and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

A Republican lawmaker on Sunday signaled confidence in House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy‘s ability to capture the speakership and move forward even as a number of conservative hard-liners are threatening to upend his bid.

Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that Republicans “will get there, and I’m not budging off my support of Speaker McCarthy.”

“We can’t spend all of January … mired in this internal battle. We need to populate various committees. There’s all sorts of work that needs to be done,” he said.

McCarthy is in a fight for the speakership, with five hard-line Republicans opposing his bid. With the House GOP holding 222 seats in the next Congress, the California Republican can only afford to lose the support of four members to secure the 218 votes he’d need to be elected speaker.

McCarthy has negotiated behind closed doors over chamber rules that his detractors are seeking to weaken the speakership, including allowing an individual member to call for a vote to oust the speaker. That’s something the McCarthy has resisted so far.

McCarthy said Friday that the five conservative holdouts — Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana — have not budged in their opposition to him and offered dire warnings that House Republicans’ hard-fought narrow majority could be derailed if they don’t bend.

Gallagher noted Sunday that House Republicans will “only have control of one chamber of government, but there’s a lot of things we can do.”

“It might take multiple votes series, but I believe we are going to get there. And the fact that Speaker McCarthy wants to do things like create a select committee on China, wants to make it bipartisan, I think is a testament to his prioritization in leading this next Congress,” he said.

Gallagher, whom McCarthy has appointed to chair the new select committee on China, also discussed Sunday his efforts in Congress on TikTok, saying he believes the video app should be banned in the United States.

A new bill introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Gallagher, would “block and prohibit all transactions” in the United States by social media companies with at least 1 million monthly users that are based in, or under the “substantial influence” of, countries that are considered foreign adversaries, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.

“TikTok is owned by ByteDance, and ByteDance is effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “So the question we have to ask is whether we want to give the CCP the ability to track our location, track what websites we visit, even when we’re not using the TikTok app itself. And increasingly, since a large percentage of young Americans use TikTok to get their news, whether we want them to have the ability to selectively edit that news.”

Critics have said ByteDance could be compelled by Chinese authorities to hand over data pertaining to US citizens or to act as a channel for malign influence operations.

But, Gallagher stressed, he doesn’t want to link the Chinese Communist Party with the Chinese people.

“I view the Chinese Communist Party as an enemy of the United States. But it’s important that we don’t conflate the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people,” he said. “I think that’s absolutely critical to our long-term competition with China, and I view the CCP in some ways as an enemy of its own people.”

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CNN’s Gregory Clary contributed to this report.

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