Although it appears Republicans will indeed take the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy isn’t necessarily fated to be the next speaker.
Speaking on journalist Emerald Robinson’s podcast this Wednesday, Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs argued that McCarthy being speaker is not a foregone conclusion and that a “real discussion” about the GOP’s future is needed first.
“I would say maybe not so fast. Maybe we should have a good discussion within the confines of our internal body. I think we have to have a real discussion and see how people respond to the ultimate results of this election and get a feel for his agenda and what he thinks he’s going to accomplish,” he said.
“If we’re going to go in for eight months of performance art instead of really getting things done, then we will fail in preparing for a 2024 election where we have to win to get the White House, the Senate and the House back,” he added.
HOT TAKE:@RepAndyBiggsAZ says the Republican caucus should debate the future of leadership in the House, adding that a “Speaker McCarthy” should not be a foregone conclusion for a Republican majority. pic.twitter.com/gaPvO5JbRy
— The Absolute Truth with Emerald Robinson (@AbsoluteWithE) November 9, 2022
Biggs made the unexpected remarks on the same day that McCarthy officially announced his bid for the speakership.
In a letter addressed to his GOP colleagues, the minority leader specifically promised “to ensure” that the new GOP-led House “majority reaches its full potential.”
“I will be a listener every bit as much as a Speaker, striving to build consensus from the bottom-up rather than commanding the agenda from the top-down. That means putting the right people in the right spots and harnessing the power of our entire conference. Everyone has something valuable to bring to the table and my door will always be open to your ideas and input on how we best achieve our shared goals,” he wrote.
Just to be clear, as of Thursday, the House hadn’t been called for Republicans quite yet. And so when McCarthy referenced the GOP “majority,” he was being a bit premature.
MCCARTHY sends letter to colleagues formally announcing his run to be Speaker of the Househttps://t.co/aDfw7TgzhL
— Kelly Phares (@kellyfphares) November 9, 2022
With all this in mind, does McCarthy have anything to fear? Possibly.
“A source familiar with the House Freedom Caucus’ deliberations [said] that there are around two dozen current and incoming members who are willing to vote against McCarthy if he doesn’t offer them concessions,” CNN reported Wednesday.
“They are actively discussing putting up a nominal challenger to face McCarthy in next week’s leadership elections in an effort to force the GOP leader to give them more influence in how the House operates, the source said,” CNN added.
Among these dissidents is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“McCarthy … spoke with some potential GOP holdouts behind closed doors throughout the day, including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. … Greene has pushed for a spot on the powerful House Oversight Committee in a GOP majority. … Leaving McCarthy’s office, Greene would not say if she’d get what she’s been seeking,” CNN noted.
“No comment,” the congresswoman reportedly said when asked if she’d support McCarthy for speaker.
As he moves to lock down support for speakership, McCarthy tonight met behind closed doors with Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has pushed for a spot on House Oversight. Leaving his office after 45 minutes, Greene declined to comment to @morganrimmer https://t.co/6hIRhwHyM5
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 10, 2022
The good news for McCarthy is that there are doubts about whether the Freedom Caucus possesses enough pull to make a tangible difference.
“I don’t know that anybody could mount a [serious] campaign [against McCarthy]. I know there’s going to be a lot of rancor, obviously. But Freedom Caucus guys know that. They see an opportunity. And I’m not sure they have a viable alternative,” one anonymous Republican said to Politico.
Another Republican, this one a member of the Freedom Caucus, added that the group has decided “for now” to work with McCarthy “as much as possible.”
But on the other hand, it appears the Freedom Caucus was once successful in preventing McCarthy from becoming speaker.
“The Freedom Caucus frustrated his attempt to run for speaker in 2015, forcing him to withdraw when it was clear he wouldn’t have enough support,” Politico notes.
Keep in mind there were 246 House Republicans at the time. The situation may be even worse this year because the GOP’s majority is slated to be far smaller.
Also, keep in mind that former President Donald Trump has endorsed McCarthy for the speakership.
“In an interview with Fox News, former President Donald J. Trump said he would support Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, in his bid for speaker if Republicans win back control of the House of Representatives with Tuesday’s election,” The New York Times reported on Election Day.
That being, as of Thursday afternoon, the movement to prevent McCarthy from becoming speaker was still alive and well:
BREAKING: Republicans are now projected to have 224 seats in the House
That means we need 7 Republicans to stand up & vote NO against RINO Kevin McCarthy when he runs for Speaker
If they do—we can block his speakership
Who are the 7 Reps with the courage to stop this RINO?
— Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) November 9, 2022
BREAKING: 3 Congressmen so far have indicated that they will be voting AGAINST McCarthy for Speaker
We need 4 more to commit to vote AGAINST McCarthy in order to STOP his Speakership
If your Congressman hasn’t PUBLICLY come out against McCarthy—then they are working against you
— Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) November 10, 2022
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