Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, believes he can win the speakership role by a narrow margin in January, even if it takes numerous rounds of voting.
McCarthy stated Tuesday that if he doesn’t receive the 218 votes required to win on the first ballot on January 3 — that is, assuming all voting members are present and cast a vote for a person rather than voting “present” — he will battle to win on following rounds.
McCarthy reportedly told Axios, “In the end, we’ll get there.”
McCarthy is experiencing opposition in the speaker position from a tiny number of anti-establishment Freedom Caucus members, who have stated that voting for McCarthy is either a hard no or a leaning no.
Reps. Bob Good (R-VA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Ralph Norman, Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) are now part of the group (R-NC).
Chairman Rep. Scott Perry and others in the Freedom Caucus have shown an interest in voting for McCarthy, but have suggested that their support would be contingent on McCarthy negotiating conference rule changes with them.
Several members of the conference’s various factions, including several from the Freedom Caucus, met with Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday to explore such rule changes.
“It was an interesting debate….” Norman stated after the meeting, “I am open to negotiating anything. We have five weeks to come up with something.”
McCarthy easily won the Republican Conference’s speaker nomination vote earlier this month, with 188 votes. McCarthy’s opponent, Biggs, garnered 31 votes.
“McCarthy’s 188 votes are outstanding,” said Matthew Boyle, and “more than previous Speaker Paul Ryan garnered in his conference vote in 2015.”
Meetings and discussions between McCarthy and those who are skeptical or opposed to voting for him are underway, but Biggs warned Wednesday morning that the GOP leader does not presently have enough votes to secure the speakership.
“Not where we are now… I’d say he doesn’t have 218 right now,” Biggs remarked when questioned about it.
Republicans regained the House majority, but only by roughly five seats after all votes are tallied, which means McCarthy can only afford to have a few defectors before his prospects of winning are threatened.