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 few conservative members of the House of Representatives declared they would not support McCarthy for speaker. Republicans have a slight 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, the required number for most of the House and the maturity 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. Three Republican lawmakers have publicly declared they will not back McCarthy: Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.
In an opinion piece for American Greatness, Biggs, who this week unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy for the speaker nomination, explained why he disagreed with McCarthy.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) says he voted for Biggs yesterday but he’s “not a hell no” on McCarthy on Jan. 3.
Says Biggs voters are “mixed” on whether they may back McCarthy.
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) November 16, 2022
Biggs wrote on Thursday that Republicans in Congress had decided 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 that I have been informed that we will only have a three-seat majority, he said, “we must not change leaders to safeguard unity. “I don’t agree,” Gaetz shared his op-ed and asserted, “We have the numbers to make a change,” that McCarthy is “threaten[ing] and pushing incoming freshmen House members to vote for him.”
Kevin McCarthy (Establishment-CA) is now reduced to threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 18, 2022
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 more excellent 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.
— Matt Rosendale (@RepRosendale) November 16, 2022
“Each Congressman has earned and deserves the right to participate in the legislative process equally. Only if the House goes back to the procedures that were in place before Nancy Pelosi took power will that occur. Rosendale tweeted on Wednesday that Kevin McCarthy “isn’t willing to make those reforms”.
“He wants to retain the status quo, which concentrates power in his and a select few people, in his hands. Unfortunately, Kevin McCarthy is not the guy we need to stand up to a Democratic-controlled Senate and President Biden. The House’s hard-core conservatives believe they can use their votes to elect McCarthy as a 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.
Members of the Freedom Caucus assert that budget and appropriations legislation needs a return to normalcy. The leadership recently brought such proposals to the floor of Congress and passed with little discussion. In certain instances, House leaders have even decided to suspend customary practices to speed up the passage of legislation.
They also want a rule that would mandate that all legislation be made available for reading for more than 72 hours before a vote, a prohibition on bundling unrelated bills and passing them all at once, increased representation on important House committees, such as the influential House Rules Committee, and a significant rule change that would end the House speaker’s power to appoint committee chairs in favour of allowing individual members to vote on the position.
Under normal conditions, there is little possibility that the House leadership would consent to these changes. Still, the conservatives are encouraged by the tenuous GOP majority and think that the time has come to compel change.