BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — On Tuesday, Republicans in the House of Representatives chose Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy as their next Speaker. It’s a crucial first step in McCarthy’s long quest for the powerful position, but not the last, as McCarthy still faces a battle to officially secure the role in January.
McCarthy fended off a challenge from conservative House Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs to win the House GOP’s Speakership nomination by a vote of 188 to 31.
“This new Republican leadership team is ready to get to work to get America back on the right track,” McCarthy said during a House GOP leadership press conference following Tuesday’s vote.
But a potential McCarthy speakership would not be official until January when he needs 218 votes from the entire House to get the gavel. With the GOP facing the probability of a small margin in the House, means McCarthy will have to convince around 30 members to come around and support him depending on the final size of the Republicans’ majority.
“Kevin McCarthy couldn’t get 218 votes. He couldn’t get 200 votes. He couldn’t get 190 votes today,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said following the vote. “So to believe that Kevin McCarthy is going to be Speaker, you have to believe he is going to get votes in the next six weeks that he hasn’t gotten in the last six years.”
It comes amid a rift in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, with some members vowing to vote against McCarthy and others such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) giving him the nod, warning Democrats could nominate their own choice for Speaker if the party does not support McCarthy.
“If we don’t unify around Kevin McCarthy, we’re opening the door for the Democrats to be able to recruit some of our Republicans,” Greene said.
In order to get their vote, some members of the House Freedom Caucus are asking for McCarthy to commit to some of their demands, such as making it easier to remove the Speaker.