On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy managed to win the GOP nomination for House speaker while some members of his own party opposed him, blaming him for Republicans’ struggles in last week’s midterm elections.
McCarthy (R-CA) defeated challenger Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) by a 188-31 vote among House Republicans on Tuesday, 30 votes short of the 218 he’ll need from the House on Jan. 3 to take the coveted House speaker role from Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The vote means that McCarthy’s next few weeks will be full of dealing with holdouts of opposition.
McCarthy appeared excited as he entered the closed-door meeting to hold the vote, saying to reporters, “We’re going to have the ability to change America.” However, other House Republicans, who viewed the lack of a “red wave” as a failure, broke with McCarthy, some blaming him for its failure to manifest.
Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) reportedly said during a closed door meeting Monday that the GOP “got rolled.” He also said he intended to oppose McCarthy’s bid to become speaker.
The Daily Caller reported that Good said, “Kevin McCarthy has not done anything to earn my vote for speaker.”
McCarthy has little wiggle room, as Republicans are currently expected to hold an incredibly slim majority, winning only one or two seats more than the 218 needed to control the chamber.
Biggs, the former chair of the influential House Freedom Caucus, decided to challenge McCarthy, hoping to take the party in a “different direction.”
“We have a new paradigm here, and I think the country wants a different direction from the House of Representatives,” Biggs told Newsmax Monday night.
“The promised red wave turned into a loss of the United States Senate, a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, and upset losses of premiere political candidates,” Biggs said in a statement announcing his challenge.
McCarthy, meanwhile, drew support from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, another member of the Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Greene cautioned Republicans against opposing McCarthy for speaker, calling it a “bad strategy” that could bring unexpected consequences, during Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
“It’s very, very risky right now to produce a leadership challenge, especially for speaker of the House, when they are going to open the door and allow Liz Cheney, possibly, to become speaker,” she said.
Cheney lost her Wyoming primary election to Harriet Hageman in August, but House rules allow for a nonmember to be elected speaker. Cheney is also the vice chairwoman of the January 6 House select committee, but has not indicated any plan to campaign for the position.
McCarthy announced his intention to run for leadership during a caucus meeting on Monday, promising to boot Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, from their committees if Republicans take the House.
“They don’t give out gavels in small, medium, and large — we have the majority and we have the gavels,” McCarthy said at the meeting, according to CNN.
In the party’s other leadership votes, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was nominated for the majority leader position, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) defeated Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Drew Ferguson (R-GA) on the second ballot to be nominated for majority whip and upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik will keep her post as conference chair, turning back a challenge from Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL).
Republicans were expected to regain control of the House by a significant margin as well as flip the Senate in the midterms, due to historical trends, President Biden’s abysmal approval ratings and the disappointment across America over Democrats’ handling of the economy and higher crime rates.
In the end, Democrats retained control of the Senate, and a runoff on Dec. 6 will determine whether they keep a 50-50 split or manage to take 51 seats. That runoff will take place between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia.
McCarthy’s leadership in the House isn’t the only thing cast into question due to the underwhelming performance. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s prospects in the Senate are in doubt as well, after Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) announced on Tuesday that he planned to challenge McConnell (R-KY) when the Senate GOP holds its elections on Wednesday.
“The old party is dead,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted over the weekend. “Time to bury it. Build something new.”
An increasing number of conservative voices have also cast blame on former President Donald Trump, after many of his endorsed candidates in contested races, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Lee Zeldin in New York, and most recently Kari Lake in Nevada, lost their respective races to their Democratic challengers.
Trump, meanwhile, cast blame on McConnell, while also restating his attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who is becoming a likely contender for a 2024 run.
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