Although Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader for the Republicans, has been nominated by his party to become the next speaker of the House, it does not guarantee he will win the position.
When the 118th Congress convenes in January for its first session, a small number of conservative members of the House of Representatives declared they will not support McCarthy for speaker. Republicans have a small majority in the House with only six contests still to be called, making McCarthy vulnerable to losing the speaker election if he does not receive support from the entire Republican conference.
The GOP now controls 218 seats, which is the required number for both a majority of the House and the majority necessary to elect the speaker. McCarthy cannot afford to lose more than two to six votes in his conference in the battle for speaker because they are predicted to have anywhere between 220 and 224 seats.
McCarthy missed his 218 vote threshold to become speaker by more than 30 votes during this week’s nomination vote.
Currently, Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) are the only three Republicans who have officially declared that they will not back McCarthy.
In an opinion piece for American Greatness, Biggs—who this week unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy for the speaker nomination—explained why he disagreed with McCarthy.
Biggs wrote on Thursday that Republicans in Congress had made the decision that maintaining the status quo was preferable to enacting change. “In 2020, I was informed that since we were the minority, we shouldn’t change our leadership. I was informed that we would see a “red wave” this year, adding 25 seats or more and that we wouldn’t want to remove our leaders because they had already proven themselves deserving of another term in office.
“Now I am told that we will barely have a three-seat majority, so we must not change leaders in order to protect unity,” he continued. “I disagree.”
Gaetz shared his op-ed and asserted, threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him” and said, “We have the votes to force a change.”
Separately, Rosendale stated on Twitter that he thinks a leadership change is required to lessen the speaker’s influence and to open up the legislative process so that backbenchers can have a greater voice.
“Each Member of Congress has earned and deserves equal participation in the legislative process. That will only happen if the House returns to the rules that governed this legislative body before Nancy Pelosi took control. Kevin McCarthy isn’t willing to make those changes,” Rosendale tweeted Wednesday.
“He wants to maintain the status quo, which consolidates power into his hands and a small group of individuals he personally selects. We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden, and unfortunately, that isn’t Kevin McCarthy,” he added.
The House’s hard-core conservatives believe they can use their votes to elect McCarthy as speaker to pressure him into making concessions and pledges.
The Freedom Caucus’ most persistent requests are for changes to House process rules. Several representatives who spoke with Fox News said they wanted the House to resume its usual order, which would call for every significant item of legislation to be discussed and voted on in committee before being brought up on the House floor.