House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) bid to clinch the speaker’s gavel is at risk of falling apart due to insufficient support from his conference.
McCarthy launched his effort to be House speaker earlier this month in a closed-ballot vote by his conference. At the time, he only earned 188 of the 218 votes necessary to become speaker, with 31 votes going to his surprise challenger: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ). Biggs is one of the dozens of Republicans who have refused to support McCarthy’s speakership bid. That opposition, combined with a less-than-stellar turnout by Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, is jeopardizing McCarthy’s chances of securing the gavel.
“I cannot vote for Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker,” Biggs tweeted earlier this month after launching his bid for the gavel. “I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes.”
Other Republicans who oppose McCarthy include Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Bob Good (R-VA). Norman argued Tuesday that McCarthy lost any chance to gain his favor when he rejected the Republican Study Committee’s seven-year plan for balancing the budget. The RSC is a highly influential group that makes up more than half of the GOP conference.
The floor vote for House speaker will be held on Jan. 3, just ahead of the start of the new Congress. While 218 votes equal a majority in the lower chamber, McCarthy only needs to win a majority of the votes from lawmakers on the floor. House rules state that if GOP lawmakers who do not support McCarthy’s bid simply vote “present,” the final number needed to win the majority is lowered — providing him a path to victory.