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McCarthy doesn’t rule out running for speaker again amid Israel crisis: ‘Whatever the conference wants’

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is not ruling out a change of heart on whether he will run for the job again after violence in the Middle East shined a spotlight on the dysfunction in the U.S. Congress. 

“Look, the conference has to make that decision,” McCarthy told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday morning when asked if he would consider picking the gavel back up. “I’m still a member. I’m going to continue to fight and act. I know what it means to have a strong America and a strong relationship with Israel.”

“This is a time for strength. This is a time to stand together…this is a time for Congress to speak as one voice,” he said.

When pressed again on whether he would cast himself for the job again, McCarthy said, “Look, whatever the conference wants, I will do.”

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Kevin McCarthy

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted last week.

The California Republican just led a bipartisan delegation to Israel in May, less than six months before he was ousted in a majority vote by eight members of his own party and every House Democrat. It was the first time in history that the House of Representatives voted to remove its leader.

McCarthy indicated to his conference that he is not running again. House floor operations have ceased as lawmakers debate and speculate over the exact scope of interim House Speaker Patrick McHenry’s role. 

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House Republicans are expected to huddle on Wednesday to choose a new party leader. The earliest possible chamber-wide vote for speaker could come later that day, but persisting divisions within the GOP conference could delay that until next week or later.

However, there is added pressure now with bipartisan calls for emergency aid to Israel. Hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed over the weekend in a surprise attack by Hamas militants.

Netanyahu speaking at podium

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war on terrorist group Hamas. (SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., a McCarthy ally, told Fox News Digital that the crisis underscored the perils of suddenly evicting a congressional leader.

“We’ve seen what happens when you don’t have a speaker…you can’t take action as Congress,” Gimenez said. “If you’re going to do something like this, it should be with the majority of your conference.”

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Gimenez said he was “glad” to hear McCarthy’s comments on Hewitt’s show, adding, “I don’t think he should have ever [been removed].”

Carlos Gimenez

Rep. Carlos Gimenez is among those calling for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy to return.

Of the current candidates to replace McCarthy — Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio — Gimenez said, “I certainly don’t think either one of them will get close, anywhere close to 217 votes.”

House Republicans are set to meet behind closed doors on Monday evening and again on Tuesday as Scalise and Jordan make their pitch to the conference. 

Elizabeth Elkind is a reporter for Fox News Digital focused on Congress as well as the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and politics. Previous digital bylines seen at Daily Mail and CBS News.

Follow on Twitter at @liz_elkind and send tips to elizabeth.elkind@fox.com

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