McCarthy's path to 218 votes for speaker is getting more complicated

"I don't think that he's going to get to 218 now or by January 3," says Rep. Andy Biggs, former House Freedom Caucus chairman who challenged McCarthy for speaker.

Published: November 21, 2022 8:35pm

Updated: November 22, 2022 11:56pm

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's path to 218 votes for speaker of the House is getting more complicated as the start of the new Congress fast approaches. 

So far, five conservatives have said they don't plan to vote for McCarthy, and the House Freedom Caucus chairman, Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, said he is disappointed in the state of negotiations with the GOP leader.

McCarthy would need a majority of the members present and voting on the House floor to support him in order to become the next speaker, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

"He's [McCarthy] actually said that he's not for impeachment," former House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Andy Biggs told Just the News on Monday, referring to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

"I don't know how you can look at the borders issue, especially with the Title 42 issue, which is going to bring up another 50 or 60% per day illegal immigration and then release them into the country over the Title 42 issue, without saying Alejandro Mayorkas needs to impeached," said the Arizona Republican. "It just takes that kind of leadership to push forward on all of these policies that impact Americans' lives on a daily basis."

On Tuesday, McCarthy called for Mayorkas to resign.

Just the News has reported that some of the proposed rules changes from the House Freedom Caucus have already been rejected by GOP leadership, creating more tension between conservatives and GOP leaders.

The implementation of the Holman Rule, which would allow lawmakers to strip the salary of federal employees not enforcing certain laws, is a proposed amendment the House Republican leadership will consider after the Thanksgiving break. Biggs said he hasn't received word that it would be approved.

"There's a few outside the Freedom Caucus that want to reimpose it," he said. "It is such an important tool to push against the bureaucrats of this administration that are going to attack us."

Biggs, who mounted a failed challenge to McCarthy for speaker, said he doubts McCarthy will receive 218 GOP votes for speaker on the House floor in January.

"I don't think that he's going to get to 218 now or by January 3," he said. "If you don't get there by January 3, then you probably don't win. So I don't think he's going to get there. And he's right now recruiting people, wooing people, and I'm talking to people regularly as well."

South Carolina GOP Rep. Ralph Norman said he's not going to vote for McCarthy for speaker, warning that the country is on an "unsustainable path" fiscally.

"I had asked Mr. McCarthy during one of our meetings, would he agree to the 7-year budget that the Republican Study Committee had to pay off the deficit and to get this country back?" Norman said. "He said no. And I'm simply not going along with another 20-year budget, which is what he wanted to propose."

Norman said he supports Biggs for speaker instead.

"There are a growing number of us who have just lost faith in that McCarthy could do the job, and the speaker is the most important position at this point in time in this country," he said. "And it's been abused by Nancy Pelosi, and we need somebody that actually will be a Ron DeSantis-type speaker who will put this country on a financial path as well as so many other things, so I'm supporting Andy."

Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana are also not voting for McCarthy.

"Kevin McCarthy (Establishment-CA) is now reduced to threatening and pressuring incoming freshmen House members to vote for him," Gaetz wrote Friday on Twitter. "We have the votes to force a change."

McCarthy's office did not return a request for comment before press time. 

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