Incoming freshman lawmakers arrive to chaos on Capitol Hill

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Incoming freshman lawmakers arrive to chaos on Capitol Hill

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Incoming freshman lawmakers arrived in Washington for orientation on Sunday facing a chaotic week ahead, with the fate of the majority in the House still in flux and uncertainty about what the leadership makeup will look like as they brace for life in the new Congress.

While neither party has secured the majority, House Republicans are scheduled to hold their leadership elections on Tuesday despite pushback from rank-and-file members and conservative outside groups.

Leadership races have become increasingly heated after the GOP fell significantly short of the red wave it projected. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) bid to become the next speaker is on much shakier ground as the House Freedom Caucus demands rules changes — including easing the process to vacate the chair, a procedure that allows members to oust a sitting speaker — in exchange for support, with some voicing that they likely won’t back the California Republican regardless of the concessions he provides.


Sources confirmed that former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) is slated to launch a bid against McCarthy in an effort to weaken the leader’s standing despite not having the support needed to secure the gavel himself.

The three-way race between National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (R-MN), Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN), and Chief Deputy Whip Drew Ferguson (R-GA) to become the next House Republican whip has also become increasingly competitive due to the razor-thin margin the GOP faces.

The future GOP lawmakers, and a handful who remain candidates and ultimately won’t be sworn in next January, are slated to hear from leadership candidates during a forum on Monday, with a vote to take place on Tuesday.

Several representative-elects said they are unsure whom they will support in the contested leadership contest and feel they should wait until more midterm races are called before any decisions are made.

“I think it’s just premature. I mean, not all the races have been called yet. We don’t have a clue exactly who’s thrown their hat in the ring for what positions, and right now, all this — we’re just kind of settling in and thinking about delivering our campaign promises, not on the ideas of who’s going to be in what pecking order,” Rep.-elect Cory Mills (R-FL) said on Sunday evening.

“I think we don’t even know if we’re in the majority, so I think it’s responsible to just look and see where the cards fall right now, and we don’t know that,” Rep. George Santos (R-NY) added.

While there is a push to move back the Republican conference’s internal leadership vote, which is conducted in a closed-ballot format, other sources noted that the more time McCarthy waits, the more difficult his climb could become.


“I mean, each day that passes, things get worse for Kevin, so I doubt they want to delay, but also, how do you have a leadership election for speaker when we haven’t won the House?” one senior GOP aide said.

Despite McCarthy’s leadership struggles, other incoming members expressed they see him as the best man to lead the conference.

“It’s all going to work itself out. I’m fully supporting Kevin McCarthy — I think he’s done a great job, and he was very supportive in my race,” Rep.-elect Mike Lawler (R-NY) told the Washington Examiner. “And when all is said and done, he’ll have the votes to be speaker.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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