Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said that he doesn’t believe there is any scenario where he would support House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker when he comes up for a vote on Jan. 3.
Several weeks ago, Biggs said that he would challenge McCarthy for House speaker during the next Congress—coming after Republicans took a slim majority during the Nov. 8 midterms. Reports have indicated that McCarthy has not obtained enough votes to be the speaker, which may lead to a protracted affair next week.
During a Fox News interview on Thursday, host Rich Edson asked Biggs if “there any scenario that you would ever vote for Leader McCarthy on any ballot, any scenario where he gets your vote?”
“I don’t think so. I do not think so. And here’s why. He’s got a body of work. You go back to ’17 and ’18. Look at the, look at why we had Democrats voting for the Republican budgets. Because the Republicans didn’t want those budgets, but the floor Leader, Mr. McCarthy, cut those deals with the Democrats,” Biggs said in response. “President Trump signed those budgets, but he said they were the worst budgets ever, and he was probably right, until the later budgets that we’ve seen from the Democrats.”
Biggs, the former head of the conservative-leaning House Freedom Caucus, said that as of now, “nobody has 218 votes which is the magic number” and “it will take a few ballots to shake that out.”
Last week, as members of Congress departed Washington, reports indicated that at least five House Republicans—including Biggs—would voice opposition to McCarthy’s speakership bid. If McCarthy cannot lock up enough votes by Jan. 3, it will set up a lengthy series of votes to determine who will be the next House speaker, which hasn’t occurred in decades.
“There are several people that are very capable of being speaker of the House,” Biggs said Thursday. “I think we will get a consensus candidate, and we will get it in fairly short order and move on.”
Other than Biggs, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Bob Good (R-Va.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) have said they won’t vote for McCarthy. Republicans have 222 seats to Democrats’ 212 seats, while no Democrat representative has signaled they will vote for McCarthy.
Meanwhile, around 100 current and incoming House Republicans have publicly stated that they would back McCarthy’s bid, and some have publicly expressed concern about Biggs’s challenge. Reports say that GOP lawmakers have delayed selecting chairs for committees and hiring congressional staffers.
“Kevin’s going to get there, and he’s going to have a lot of meetings with members to make sure that we get this result on January 3,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill last week when he was asked about the speakership vote.
After Biggs launched his longshot bid for speaker, McCarthy has reportedly held a number of meetings with critics and potential detractors to secure support. He has one high-profile supporter in former President Donald Trump, who has called on his supporters to stand down in opposing McCarthy.
“Look, I think this: Kevin has worked very hard. I think he deserves the shot,” Trump said earlier this month in an interview with Breitbart News. “Hopefully he’s going to be very strong and going to be very good and he’s going to do what everybody wants.”
The 45th president made note of the 2015 scenario in which then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) resigned amid clashes with fellow Republicans, leading to then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) being appointed. A prominent Trump critic, Ryan now works as an executive at Fox News.
“It’s a very dangerous game. Some bad things could happen. Look, we had Boehner and he was a strange person but we ended up with Paul Ryan who was ten times worse,” Trump told the outlet. “Paul Ryan was an incompetent speaker. I think he goes down as the worst speaker in history.”
As for what might happen on Jan. 3, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Politico on Dec. 23 that during the second ballot for speaker, there might be a viable alternative to replace McCarthy. However, Good would not provide any names.
“I think on the second ballot, it will become a little more clear on who we think can get us to 218,” he said.