In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, House Republicans approved Kevin McCarthy for Speaker, demonstrating that there is still much work to do before the full chamber votes next year. Mr. McCarthy must win 218 votes in a roll-call vote among all legislators present in January, with the Republican majority projected to be the smallest in recent history. All Democrats are anticipated to vote against him.
According to persons familiar with the vote, Mr. McCarthy, now the House Minority Leader, earned 188 votes from his conference to be Speaker. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who ran against McCarthy, garnered 31 votes. Mr. McCarthy will need to maintain the majority of Republicans unified for a floor vote, which would give each legislator tremendous clout.
The gap between Mr. McCarthy’s colleagues’ support and the 218 needed on the House floor will be the focus of the California Republican for the next few weeks. Some Republican legislators may be swayed by committee appointments, while others have requested changes to how Republicans govern themselves.
Even though the Associated Press has yet to announce the House majority, Republicans pressed through with their speaker vote. The House currently has 217 Republicans and 209 Democrats, with numerous seats still to be decided. Mr. McCarthy considered a shoo-in for House speaker before Election Day will be hampered by the projected narrow majority.
Rep. Kat Cammack said (R., Fla.) stated that Kevin has done an outstanding job as a minority leader, and he has made a persuasive argument. Republican members said Mr. Biggs’ objective was not to win the speakership but to demonstrate to Mr. McCarthy that he did not have the support of the whole Republican conference. The ballot was cast in secret.
Mr. Biggs remarked on Twitter that the American people want us to turn the page. They expect action and results, not excuses or performance art, he added.
According to prepared statements sent out in a fundraising email, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas stated in his speech nominating Mr. Biggs that the challenge “is not an assault” on Mr. McCarthy but rather an effort to have a discussion rather than a coronation.
Previous speakers have struggled to secure 218 votes but have passed the House vote. Paul Ryan, the Republican House speaker from 2015 to the beginning of 2019, had to make pledges to conservatives to protect his position at the time. When Democrats reclaimed the majority in the House in 2018, current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) battled to maintain support among her caucus.
According to two people who attended the closed-door meeting on Monday, Mr. McCarthy underscored that Republicans would have the majority and control the committee gavels regardless of the size of the conference. According to two sources, Mr. McCarthy received a standing ovation.
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who recently led the House GOP campaign arm, defeated Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who chaired the Republican Study Committee—a group representing roughly two-thirds of House Republicans—and Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson, the current chief deputy whip, in a tight race for majority whip. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York was re-elected as GOP conference chair, beating competitor Florida Rep. Byron Donalds.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) stood for majority leader unchallenged.
Trump declared his presidential candidacy on the same day as the leadership elections. Some Republicans have turned against Mr. Trump after many of the candidates he supported in the midterm elections lost. Mr. Trump has backed Mr. McCarthy’s quest for Speaker of the House.
Some GOP members are pushing for modifications to the conference rules in exchange for their support, particularly the motion to vacate the chair, which allows for a speaker’s easier removal. Some legislators are opposed to such a reform.
Repeated leadership changes would weaken House Republicans’ capacity to offer a common sense, conservative agenda, and substantial outcomes for the American people stated the three co-chairs of the Main Street Caucus, a moderate group of around 50 legislators. Some conservatives would also like committee members to pick the chairman of each committee. This choice is now decided by a leadership-driven panel, potentially overturning seniority norms and making the chairman more accountable to members than the leader.
Other House Freedom Caucus members are asking their colleagues to support Mr. McCarthy. On Monday, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an ardent conservative, endorsed him, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has also endorsed him.
On Monday, Ms. Greene said on Steve Bannon’s podcast that manufacturing a leadership challenge would be very dangerous.
Republican leaders have the tough challenge of reconciling competing demands from the party’s right flank and center, which is rising due to new members elected in purple and blue-leaning districts.