House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is facing an uphill battle in his bid to become the chamber’s next speaker. Although he is the frontrunner to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the upcoming GOP-led session, a number of conservative lawmakers are threatening to derail his campaign.
With a razor-thin Republican majority, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of votes in order to secure the 218 needed to clinch the speakership.
While the McCarthy opposition is concentrated within the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, recent reports indicate that more than two dozen of that group’s members are supporting him, albeit reluctantly.
Many of them have expressed concerns that voting against the GOP leader could give Democrats an opportunity to help select the next speaker. Meanwhile, those caucus members who have vowed to vote against him have cited his insufficient support for conservative candidates and causes as a primary factor.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who came up short in his long-shot bid to replace McCarthy as the nominee in a vote following the recent midterm elections, reiterated his stance in a statement earlier this month.
I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment.
Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.https://t.co/tKLPXUxSOA
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 6, 2022
For his part, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) made it clear that he and four other McCarthy critics are united in their opposition and are “going to agree” that all of their demands are met before potentially changing their position.
McCarthy acknowledged the impasse last week but remained hopeful that he would ultimately be able to rally his naysayers behind him.
“We’re still continuing to talk, but they have not moved,” he said, going on to describe the intraparty squabble as “a win for the Democrats.”
Freedom Caucus members who are on board with a McCarthy speakership have generally echoed his concerns, including Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH).
He recently asserted that the rifts among Republicans “pale in comparison” to the differences between the GOP and Democratic Party, claiming that “it’s in the country’s best interest if we can hit the ground running on the investigations we need to do.”
In order to be effective when the next session begins, Jordan said: “You’ve got to seat the speaker before you can actually get committees formed, have the committee meeting where you adopt the committee rules, before you can do anything.”