House Republicans will have a narrower majority than they had anticipated and because of that, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may find he has a more difficult road to be House speaker.
Already, a handful of Republicans have announced they will vote against McCarthy’s bid to be speaker. He easily won the nomination for speaker within the Republican conference, but he must still win 218 votes on the floor next month. CBS News projects Republicans will have 221 seats in the new Congress, so he’ll need nearly all of them, since all the House Democrats are expected to support a Democrat for speaker.
Rep. Andy Biggs (Arizona)
Perhaps the most vocal opponent to a would-be Speaker McCarthy is Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who ran against McCarthy within the Republican conference for speaker. The secret-ballot GOP conference vote was 188-31.
Biggs has expressed frustration that McCarthy and Republicans aren’t doing enough to fight “radical Leftists” and are “failing to put the brakes on the Left.” That’s what Biggs wrote in a Nov. 18 op-ed in the conservative website “American Greatness.” And at this point, he’s saying he will not support him in the full House floor vote.
“Now I am told that we will barely have a 3-seat majority, so we must not change leaders in order to protect unity,” Biggs wrote. “I, however, believe it is time to make a change. Those thoughts are most immutable. Our current candidate for Speaker doesn’t have the 218 votes necessary to become Speaker on January 3, 2023. I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes. In the end, I must concur with my constituents: it is time to make a change at the top of the House of Representatives. I cannot vote for the gentleman from California, Mr. McCarthy.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (Florida)
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of former President Trump’s most reliable allies in Congress, agrees with Biggs. Gaetz has consistently voiced his opposition to McCarthy as speaker.
“Kevin McCarthy (Establishment-CA) is now reduced to threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him,” Gaetz tweeted on Nov. 18, along with Biggs’ op-ed. “We have the votes to force a change.”
A day before the House GOP conference election, Gaetz told “The Charlie Kirk Show,” “I’m not voting for Kevin McCarthy. I’m not voting for him tomorrow. I’m not voting for him on the floor.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (South Carolina)
Rep. Ralph Norman, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Politico early this month that he’s a hard “no” against McCarthy as well. But Norman told the news outlet he’ll either vote “present” or not attend the vote, which could be less damaging to McCarthy’s prospects. If some of the Republicans who oppose McCarthy choose Norman’s path, they would lower the threshold McCarthy would have to reach because the number making up a majority would be lower than the 218 he’d need if all 435 lawmakers voted yes or no. Norman cited McCarthy’s approach to the budget and national debt, suggesting the House minority leader doesn’t have an aggressive enough approach to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.
In 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won the speakership with 216 votes after three Democrats voted “present.”
Other possible “no” votes
They aren’t the only ones indicating opposition to McCarthy.
While they haven’t said they’re certain to vote against McCarthy, Reps. Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana have voiced serious concerns, and hold the power to tank McCarthy’s chances.
Rosendale issued a statement after the conference vote accusing McCarthy of wanting “to maintain the status quo, which consolidates power into his hands and a small group of individuals he personally selects.” He continued, “We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden and unfortunately, that isn’t Kevin McCarthy.”
The vote will take place Jan. 3 on the House floor.
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