House Republicans on Tuesday nominated Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to be speaker following a late protest challenge from the most-conservative wing of the party.
McCarthy won 188-31 behind a closed-door election, easily beating back a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona. But McCarthy will need almost unanimous Republican support when the full House chooses a speaker early next year. Republicans are expected to win a slim majority, the exact margin still to be determined.
As it stands, Republicans have 211 seats to the Democrats 203 seats in the new Congress with votes in 14 close elections still to be counted. McCarthy would need at least 218 votes to become speaker and all Democrats are expected to oppose him.
Biggs is the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which is pushing for changes to internal conference rules that would give individual member power. Some of the changes being sought include allowing any Republican to attempt tp remove the speaker at any time and allowing for direct negotiates with the speaker for committee assignments.
“My bid to run for speaker is about changing the paradigm and the status quo,” Biggs said. “Minority Leader McCarthy does not have the votes needed to become the next speaker of the House, and his speakership should not be a foregone conclusion.”
McCarthy told reporters he felt “great” about the vote.
“The goal when I became leader four years ago was to win the majority,” he said. Republicans, he said, were on the track to do so.