Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on Wednesday signaled that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may hit a few speed bumps on his quest to become the next House speaker, arguing the Republican conference needs to have “a serious discussion” about leadership after Tuesday’s disappointing election results.
Republicans underperformed expectations in the midterm elections, and if they take a majority after all the votes are counted, it will be a slim one. Biggs, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told conservative streaming program “The Absolute Truth with Emerald Robinson” that Republicans should reevaluate whether McCarthy is the best person to be House speaker, saying his leadership should not be “a foregone conclusion.”
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“I would say maybe not so fast. Maybe we should have a good discussion within the confines of our internal body,” Biggs said. “Look, we were told we were going to have an incredible, incredible wave. And if that would’ve been the case, any 20, 30, 40-seat margin, anywhere in there you would say, okay, Kevin is the presumptive Republican nominee for speaker.
“But I think we need to have a serious discussion,” Biggs continued. “He’s back peddled on things like impeachment and, in some ways, that indicates a willingness to be weakening the oversight authority that we need to have and the leverage points we need to have in order to deal with a Democrat president.”
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McCarthy announced his candidacy for House speaker on Wednesday, arguing that flipping the chamber under his leadership was “no small feat.”
“This was the most expensive and arguably the most competitive House midterm in America’s history,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to his GOP colleagues. “Yet in a hard-fought contest, our message and our candidates prevailed, winning key seats across the country, some in districts that President Biden carried just two years ago by double digits.”
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However, the conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus may stand in his way if they believe McCarthy will not vigorously prosecute their case against the Biden administration or block significant spending bills from passing. Biggs, for example, criticized Republican leadership for declining to hold up the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, which the Democratic House majority did not have the votes to pass without GOP support.
“Our leadership didn’t leverage that to remove the [vaccine] mandates,” Biggs said.
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In a scenario where the GOP only has a thin majority, the Freedom Caucus will hold enough votes to block McCarthy from becoming speaker, and it appears ready to use that leverage to extract promises or concessions from the California Republican.
“I don’t understand why this is just a foregone conclusion,” Biggs said. “I think we have to have a real discussion and see how people respond to the ultimate results of this election and get a feel for his agenda and what he thinks he’s going to accomplish.
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“If we’re going to go in for eight months of performance art instead of really getting things done, then we will fail in preparing for a 2024 election where we have to win to get the White House, the Senate and the House back,” Biggs said.
G3 Box News’ Caroline McKee, Tyler Olson, and Haris Alic contributed to this report.