Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who failed three weeks ago in a vote among House Republicans to lead the conference, is mounting another challenge to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): for speaker, when the full House votes early next year.
Biggs attracted only 31 votes against McCarthy in the earlier vote but could still provide headaches when the House begins a new session on Jan. 3.
To prevail, McCarthy will need 218 votes — a majority of the full chamber. Assuming that no Democrats vote for McCarthy, he can afford to lose just a handful of fellow Republicans. Accordingly, Biggs could block McCarthy’s path if just a few of his colleagues rally around him.
That would throw the House into chaos, with possible repeated votes until someone emerges with enough support to be speaker.
“I’m running for Speaker to break the establishment,” Biggs tweeted Tuesday. “Kevin McCarthy was created by, elevated by, and maintained by the establishment.”
Biggs linked to an op-ed he wrote for the Daily Caller in which he elaborated on what he sees as McCarthy’s shortcomings.
“We actually have the opportunity to dislodge the establishment and reinvigorate the America First movement that was founded by former president Donald Trump. Yes, that Donald Trump,” Biggs wrote.
In 2015, McCarthy stumbled in his bid for speaker as the party’s right wing opposed his selection. Republicans chose Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) instead, though he announced plans to retire in April 2018, months before the end of his term.
So far, at least five House Republicans have signaled they would oppose McCarthy for speaker, posing a challenge, as the GOP is likely to have a 222-seat majority, far less than Republicans had predicted.
McCarthy has been courting the right in his conference and last month called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign or face potential impeachment proceedings.
“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure, and will determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said.
In the weeks before the election, McCarthy had played down the possibility of impeachment proceedings.