House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) overcame his first hurdle in obtaining the speaker’s gavel after receiving support from more than half of his conference during a closed-ballot vote on Tuesday but still lacks backing from the 218 members needed to secure the position in the floor vote in January.
Former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) announced a challenge to McCarthy during an appearance on Newsmax on Monday evening after hinting at a bid as the increasingly powerful conservative caucus continues to flex its muscle, pushing for rules changes that would diminish McCarthy's power should he become speaker.
The reforms include easing the process for the motion vacate the chair, a mechanism used to oust a sitting speaker; changes to the Steering Committee, which is tasked with selecting who chairs and sits on different standing committees; and a push to slow down the legislative process by allowing for more amendments.
McCarthy ultimately beat Biggs in a 188-31 vote.
McCarthy’s path to the speakership became more tenuous after Republicans fell significantly short of their anticipated red wave, forcing him to walk a tightrope in garnering support from the different factions of his party, as Republicans are expected to have a razor-thin majority next year.