WHIP LIST: McCarthy seeks 218 GOP speakership votes

A narrower-than-expected Republican majority in the House and a growing number of House Republicans expressing opposition to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) threaten to derail his bid to become speaker of the House.

McCarthy won his party’s nomination for speaker this month, but must secure a majority of all those casting a vote for a specific candidate in a Jan. 3 House vote to officially be elected speaker.

Support from 218 House Republicans, who mark a majority in the House, would strengthen his position.

A speaker can be elected with fewer than 218 votes if there are absentees, vacancies, or some members vote “present,” but McCarthy doesn’t have much leeway. Democrats will hold about 213 seats, all of which are expected to vote for a Democratic presidential nominee. The Republicans will have about 222 seats.

McCarthy maintains confidence that he will win the presidency, but about five House Republicans have already signaled they will not support McCarthy’s proposal for the presidency on the floor, likely already putting him below 218 and plunging his position into dangerous territory. Several others are also withholding support without necessarily saying they will vote against McCarthy on Jan. 3.

Opposition to McCarthy

Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.)

Biggs, a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, challenged McCarthy at the last minute for the nomination for House GOP Speaker, when he received 31 votes to McCarthy’s 188 and five others voted for other candidates. After the nomination, Biggs said he will not vote for McCarthy for chairman.

“I don’t think he will ever get 218 votes and I refuse to help him in his efforts to get those votes,” he says. Biggs tweeted.

He cited McCarthy’s failure to promise to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as a reason for withholding support. On Tuesday, McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign, saying House Republicans will investigate and consider impeachment if he does not.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.)

“Kevin McCarthy will go back to his establishment the moment he gets into power, and that’s why there are enough of us now, a critical mass, standing as a bulwark against his ascension to the podium,” Gaetz said on former Trump -adviser Stephen Bannon’s “War Room” show on Tuesday.

Gaetz also told reporters on November 15 that he would vote for someone other than McCarthy on the House floor on January 3.

Rep. Bob Good (Va.)

“I’m not going to endorse him on Jan. 3,” Good said on the “John Fredericks Radio Show” Tuesday. He added that he believes there are “more than enough” members who are “determined not to support him” and deny McCarthy the podium.

The freshman congressman from Virginia, who unseated former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a 2020 primary, said earlier on the same radio show that he had confronted McCarthy about his tactics during a House GOP caucus before the nomination vote by the chairman. Good took issue with a McCarthy-aligned PAC that spent millions supporting certain Republicans in primaries over others, noting that McCarthy had endorsed Riggleman in his 2020 primary.

“However, he admitted on the microphone that he spent money in these races based on who would endorse him for Speaker,” Good said.

well have also said that he believes there are a “score or so” of House Republicans who will oppose McCarthy on the House floor.

Rep. Ralph Norman (SC)

Norman’s opposition to McCarthy centers around the budget. Norman said he asked McCarthy to adopt a model seven-year budget prepared by the Republican Study Committee, which included $16.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years.

“Just a solid ‘no’ made me think he’s really not serious about it,” Norman said on Bannon’s “War Room” Tuesday.

The slim GOP majority in the House, he added, presents an opportunity for hardline conservatives to pressure McCarthy and push for their priorities.

Norman first revealed his opposition to McCarthy to Just the News, clarifying to Politico that he will vote for someone other than McCarthy for chairman – and will not vote “present.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.)

Rosendale, a freshman, has signaled opposition to McCarthy for Speaker.

“He wants to maintain the status quo, which consolidates power in his hands and a small group of individuals he personally selects. We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden, and unfortunately that is not Kevin McCarthy,” Rosendale said in a tweet after McCarthy was nominated to be chairman.

Additional McCarthy skeptics and unknowns

Several other conservative members have indicated that McCarthy has yet to earn their support, or declined to answer questions about McCarthy’s presidency altogether.

Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.)

Perry, the current chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has repeatedly said McCarthy does not have the support of 218 members.

“It’s getting more and more dangerous as we move forward,” Perry said of McCarthy’s position in an interview last week.

Perry has pushed McCarthy and the House GOP leadership to implement rule changes that would overall give more power to rank-and-file members and reduce that of leaders. But he is not committing to voting against McCarthy at this time.

“I don’t give my opinion,” Perry said in an interview last week. “I have an open mind, but I also see what happens.”

Rep. Chip Roy (Texas)

Roy has similarly said McCarthy does not have majority support for Speaker, but has not said how he intends to vote on the floor on January 3.

“Nobody has 218 and somebody is going to have to earn 218,” Roy said last week.

In addition to also pushing for a more open process, Roy has expressed that he doesn’t think the House GOP leadership’s commitments to investigate the Biden administration are aggressive enough. He also favors withholding funding unless the Biden administration ends COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the military.

Rep. Dan Bishop (NC)

Bishop said his vote for chairman hinges on more than rule changes.

“What it’s more about now is whether somebody can take the initiative to come up with a creative approach to kind of recalibrate how this place works in hopes of moving from the status quo and making it effective for the American people, ” Bishop said in a brief interview last week.

“At this point, I’m open to anyone taking the initiative in the way that I described,” Bishop said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)

“Well, I’ll tell you, you’ll know on the third of January,” Clyde said on the “John Fredericks Radio Show” Monday when asked if he would vote for McCarthy. “We still have negotiations.”

Rep. Barry Moore (Ala.)

Moore said in a brief interview last week that he’s waiting to see how negotiations over rule changes go, but he wasn’t necessarily a hard “no” to McCarthy.

“We won’t really know until Jan. 3 how things shake out,” he said.

Hardline members supporting McCarthy

Not all members of the House Freedom Caucus or the more confrontational wing are united in their opposition to McCarthy. In fact, some are strong supporters.

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio)

Some conservatives have suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus who challenged McCarthy for GOP leader in 2018, as an alternate speaker candidate. But Jordan, who is likely to chair the House Judiciary Committee, has thrown his support behind McCarthy.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.)

The fiery congresswoman from Georgia once had doubts about McCarthy’s ability to become president, but has now become one of his most vocal supporters for the post. Greene, who has said McCarthy will have to “give me a lot of power” to please the GOP base, said she is working to convince her conservative colleagues to vote for McCarthy.

Greene has warned that moderate Republicans could join Democrats and elect a moderate compromise speaker, but McCarthy skeptics have dismissed that prospect as a red herring.

Rep. Randy Weber (Texas)

Weber, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said he is pro-McCarthy for chairman.

“He’s poured his heart and guts and soul into building this conference,” Weber told The Hill last week. “I’ve been here 10 years. … I’ve never seen the conference in better shape than it is now.”

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