McCarthy’s path to speaker of the House uncertain

Politics

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 01: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol July 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. McCarthy held a weekly news conference to answer questions from members of the press. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — While Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives, current GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the House speakership could be in jeopardy after the Republican Party’s dismal Election Day performance.

Although control of the House has not been officially called, Republicans plan to hold leadership elections for the next Congress later in the day Tuesday.

According to Fox News, several members of the Freedom Caucus — arguably the most staunchly conservative caucus within the House — are backing McCarthy.

The Freedom Caucus lawmakers, who typically align with former President Donald Trump, are, according to The Associated Press, demanding concessions from McCarthy before giving him their backing. They have a long list of asks — from prime positions on House committees to guarantees they can have a role in shaping legislation.

“I’m willing to support anybody that’s willing to change dramatically how things are done here,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a Trump ally, said after meeting privately with McCarthy.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Az., late Monday announced a run for House speaker, challenging McCarthy for the Republican conference’s nomination to the post.

“Look, we were told we were going to have an incredible, incredible wave,” said Biggs, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, in an online streaming show, according to The Associated Press.

“If that would have been the case,” with a 20-, 30- or 40-seat margin, “you would say, ‘Well, OK, Kevin is the presumptive Republican nominee for speaker. But I think we need to have a serious discussion.”

Republicans are torn in the Trump era between those remaining loyal to the former president and those who blame him for the midterm losses. Trump is slated to reclaim the political stage with a “big” announcement Tuesday night that many have speculated will herald another run for the White House.

According to two sources who spoke with CNN, Trump has been privately encouraging his allies within the House to support McCarthy’s bid for speaker. But even Trump’s support is no guarantee that McCarthy will reach the 218 votes needed to become speaker.

Tuesday night’s vote is the first step in McCarthy’s pursuit of the gavel, ahead of the more formal vote when the new Congress convenes in January. The weeks ahead promise to be a grueling period of negotiations between McCarthy and rank-and-file Republicans as he tries to appease their demands and rack up the support he will need in the new year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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