Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) announced late Monday night that he will run for Speaker and challenge House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the nomination of the Republican conference to the position.
“This is a new paradigm, and I think the country wants the House of Representatives to go in a different direction. “It’s a new world, and yes, I will be nominated for Speaker of the House tomorrow,” Biggs said on Newmax on Monday night.
Biggs said, “We’ll see if we can get the job done and get the votes.” “It will be difficult. I mean, Kevin has gotten a lot of things done and raised a lot of money. It’s not just about Kevin, though. I think it has to do with the direction and path of the institution.”
The challenge from Biggs, who used to be chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, comes after the midterm elections last week disappointed House Republicans, who had hoped for a “red wave.” Even though election forecasts haven’t yet given Republicans a majority of House seats, the GOP thinks it will end up with a slim majority.
McCarthy needs to get most of the votes from House GOP members in a secret vote on Tuesday to be nominated for the job by his conference. After that, all House members will vote on the floor on the first day of the new Congress in January. If all 435 members are sworn in that day, McCarthy would need at least 218 votes to become Speaker.
Sources in the room say that Biggs did not offer himself as an alternative to McCarthy at a House GOP leadership forum on Monday afternoon.
Bigg’s challenge comes at a time when the Freedom Caucus is pushing GOP leadership to change the rules in a way that would give members more power and make leadership less important. But not all Freedom Caucus members agree with his plan to run against McCarthy.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, issued a warning that Republicans in a slim majority face risks if they are not unified behind one candidate and that a handful of moderate House Republicans could join Democrats to support a compromise Speaker candidate if the party is not able to come together behind a single candidate.
Greene told reporters on Monday that the election of Kevin McCarthy was a must. “I am unable to back a challenge that would give the Democrats the ability to choose their own speaker by taking some of our votes away,” she said.
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She went on to say that she is currently talking to her colleagues who are on the fence about supporting McCarthy in an effort to persuade them to back the leader of the Republican Party.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a moderate Republican, told NBC News on Monday that he would, in theory, vote with Democrats to back a consensus candidate if Rep. Kevin McCarthy was unable to obtain 218 votes on the floor. This came as a validation of the anxieties that have been expressed. Later on, though, Bacon emphasised to the reporters that he believes McCarthy will get to that number and that working with Democrats is “not even a feasible possibility.” Bacon was referring to the amount of votes McCarthy has received in the House.
There are worries regarding who would be the alternative that 218 Republicans in the House of Representatives could support on the floor of the House. After former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his resignation in 2015, members of the Freedom Caucus assisted in derailing Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the new Speaker of the House. As a result, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) was elected Speaker, which was later perceived as a letdown by some members of the Freedom Caucus.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who had previously challenged McCarthy to lead House Republicans, has been brought up as a possible replacement by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who is not a member of the Freedom Caucus. Jordan had previously challenged McCarthy to lead House Republicans. However, Jordan, who is going to be the chair of the House Judiciary Committee if the Republicans win the majority in the House, has stated on multiple occasions that he backs McCarthy for the Speaker position.
Last week, Biggs expressed his doubts to the press about McCarthy’s qualifications to hold the position of Speaker, citing McCarthy’s unwillingness to bring up articles of impeachment. Biggs has joined impeachment resolutions against President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, in addition to introducing articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Biggs remarked the previous week, “I think that his recent statement that [we] shouldn’t impeach Secretary Mayorkas suggests maybe we’re not going to be as forceful going forward as we should be.” Mayorkas is the secretary of the department of housing and urban development.
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McCarthy has repeatedly minimised the likelihood of impeachment being brought up, citing the fact that he does not wish to use the issue for “political objectives” as his rationale.
In addition to this, Biggs advocated for a greater “decentralisation” of the conference as well as a more thorough policy and supervision framework. In the past week, he has been heard saying that “We need to have a very optimistic statement of what we are going to accomplish and do,” but he has not yet seen such a declaration.
McCarthy, along with other House Republicans, led the charge in September to release a policy and messaging plan for a House majority titled “Commitment to America.” However, some Freedom Caucus members believe that the plan did not provide sufficient detail regarding its intentions for the majority. The candidacy of Biggs is being disregarded by supporters of McCarthy.
“Mr. Biggs is someone I have a great deal of respect for. But when everything is said and done, Kevin McCarthy is the most effective strategist that we have. He’s our best fundraiser. He’s our top recruiter. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) remarked that “he accomplished more to retake the majority than anybody else in the entire conference.” Reschenthaler went on to say that it “would be an insult” to deny McCarthy the gavel at this time.
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