The narrow House majority won by Republicans in last month’s midterm elections is leading to intrigue surrounding who will replace outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the next leader of the lower chamber. Current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been nominated for the leadership position by the GOP House caucus, but his election when the next Congress is sworn in on January 3 is far from certain.
McCarthy was challenged for the nomination late in the process by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus. In a closed-door vote, McCarthy won the nomination with 188 votes to Biggs’ 31.
It's an absurd argument to suggest that there are no other Republican options for House Speaker aside from Kevin McCarthy.
That's not the case.
Our party is filled with people more than capable to lead it. pic.twitter.com/9qTgeu5Bn5
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 2, 2022
Even though Biggs did not seriously challenge McCarthy’s nomination, he sent a clear message that the California representative has not secured the 218 votes he will need for a majority from the full House to become speaker.
If no candidate wins a majority on the first vote for speaker, additional roll call votes are held until a speaker is elected. Multiple votes have been needed only 14 times in the nation’s history, with the last time being in 1923.
A group of moderate House Republicans sent an open letter to the caucus on Thursday calling on members who opposed McCarthy’s nomination to unite with the majority that supported him in order to ensure his election as speaker.
The Republican Governance Group’s letter was headed up by Rep. David P. Joyce (R-OH) and warned that the party must “immediately put the posturing aside and focus on responsible governance.”
It added: “Our Democratic colleagues would only be too happy if we contributed to their efforts to derail our agenda with self-inflicted snags, like not rallying around our already elected leadership.”
Biggs and Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) have been the most vocal McCarthy opponents in the nomination process. Good told Steve Bannon in his podcast episode this week that there is “no way” he will vote for McCarthy to be the speaker.
Good said there are other “competent, capable leaders that reflect the conservative center of the conference.” He told Bannon that he believes as many as 10 to 12 Republicans are set against a McCarthy speakership and the alternative candidate for the position will become public when the “reality sets in” for the caucus that McCarthy cannot win a majority.
There have only been two prominent House Freedom Caucus members who have publicly supported McCarthy, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Jordan is one of the most popular potential challengers to McCarthy.