UPDATE: Kevin McCarthy, despite challenges, received the GOP nomination for Speaker of the House, with 188 votes to Representative Andy Biggs’ 31. It remains to be seen whether he can garner 219 votes to become Speaker when the new Congress is seated in January.
Original report follows
There’s a debate raging amongst Republicans about who should lead the House in the new Congress, and there have even been suggestions that the person to take the role may not be a Member of Congress. Kevin McCarthy seems to be beginning to realize that his position is not guaranteed.
McCarthy, as Minority Leader, could have been the most likely candidate for Speaker when his party gained power, under ordinary circumstances. However, a MAGA faction of Congress is opposing him, and he’s showing signs of desperation.
Matt Gaetz, in fact, has repeatedly floated the idea of electing Donald Trump as House Speaker, after pointing out that there’s no actual rule requiring the Speaker to be a Member of Congress. Aside from restoring him to a degree of power, this would, hypothetically, give Trump a path back to the presidency, since he’d be third in the line of succession.
Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt — a Republican but not a member of Congress — has suggested an alternative option, who also won’t be a member of the new Congress, but who could gain the support of at least some portion of both parties: Liz Cheney. Cheney lost her primary for re-election, but her service on the January 6th Committee makes her a stand-out Republican who has earned a lot of respect from Democratic colleagues.
Others who have been put forward or predicted as potential nominees include Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). Jordan has not been formally suggested, but is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which is leading the resistance to McCarthy’s speakership, and Biggs, perhaps the most likely candidate, has put himself forward as a serious contender.
Biggs spoke on Newsmax Monday night:
You know, we have a new paradigm here, and I think the country wants a different direction from the House of Representatives. It’s a new world, and yes, I’m going to be nominated tomorrow to the position of Speaker of the House.
McCarthy, meanwhile, is feeling the competition — according to the Wall Street Journal, his political allies have even been reaching across the aisle to beg at least one elected Democrat, Henry Cuellar, to change party affiliation in order to increase the Republican majority — and potentially, his support for a leadership role.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.