House GOP Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
CNN  — 

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday that five conservative hardliners have not budged in their opposition to his speaker’s bid, offering dire warnings that their hard-fought Republican majority could be derailed if they don’t bend.

“Well, we’re still continuing to talk, but they have not moved,” McCarthy told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And the difficulty here is that you know, we are the only Republican entity stopping the Biden administration. But we’re also going to be the only ones that can move forward. But it would delay everything, getting committees up and running, being able to do the things that you know we need to get done from the very beginning.”

McCarthy’s comments represent a sharp escalation in his public pressure campaign against the five members who have signaled they plan to deny him the 218 votes he needs to become speaker when the new Congress convenes in January. McCarthy has spent hours behind closed doors negotiating a series of rules that the hardline faction wants in order to weaken the speakership and empower their members.

McCarthy has signaled a willingness to bend on some of their key requests, but he has yet to agree to allow an individual member to call for a vote ousting a sitting speaker – a centerpiece of the hardliners’ demands that the California Republican has so far resisted.

McCarthy and his allies believe that they will be able to win over the detractors before the January 3 vote, but the critics say they are determined to derail his speaker’s bid and find a new candidate to run the narrow House GOP majority.

“I think the person who is ultimately going to be the speaker isn’t even the candidate yet,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican and one of the five Republicans who publicly oppose McCarthy’s bid, told CNN.

On Friday, McCarthy took to the airwaves to argue the detractors threaten to put the entire House Republican agenda in peril, warning that basic decisions on legislating and investigating will be “all in jeopardy” – such as getting a new select committee on China up and running. McCarthy can only afford to lose four GOP votes on January 3, assuming all members are in attendance and vote for a specific member.

“I just believe this is a win for the Democrats,” McCarthy said of GOP opposition to his bid. “They’re sitting back, and we can’t allow that to happen. We are the only individuals standing in the way of stopping more Democratic bad policy.”

McCarthy argued that their refusal to get on board is also hurting his ability to begin recruiting new House candidates for the 2024 election cycle, suggesting a speaker’s fight could hurt GOP chances at keeping their narrow majority and 222 seats.

“It’s not only delaying that,” McCarthy said of recruiting GOP candidates. “It’s being prepared to not only defend the majority, but grow the majority.”

McCarthy’s dire warning comes as the five GOP members – Gaetz, Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana – have warned they may vote as a bloc on January 3, meaning they’ll all vote the same way.

Biggs, who secured 31 votes when he lost the GOP nomination for speaker against McCarthy last month, has told CNN he’s “not bluffing” and plans to run for speaker when the full House votes next month. The critics say there are far more than five Republicans who oppose McCarthy’s bid and have yet to make their position known publicly.

If McCarthy doesn’t get 218 votes on January 3, the House will keep voting until someone gets the votes – something that hasn’t happened since 1923.

“Remember, this is a presidential year, so you only have so many months to really get out there and govern,” McCarthy said. “And you want to hit the ground running. Every day you lose, if you lose a quarter, you don’t start strong. So you don’t get new, stronger candidates. You don’t get more resources to be able to supply those candidates to get the message out.”