The first order of business when the new Republican-led House convenes in January will be to elect a new Speaker. After the midterm election, McCarthy was chosen by Republicans for the GOP nomination for Speaker.

But that doesn’t mean all Republicans are on board – and the GOP’s margin in the House is razor-thin after the “Red Wave” turned into a Red Dribble. Meaning, McCarthy’s next hurdle will be to secure the 218 votes needed to become Speaker.

With Republicans holding a slim majority in the House, McCarthy can ill afford any defectors. No more than four, to be precise, if he can’t draw any Democrats to his side.

But a lonely few conservatives have already stated their opposition, vowing not to vote for McCarthy. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), one of the leaders of the House Freedom Caucus, said:

“He doesn’t have the votes. Some of the stages of grief include denial, so there will be some denial and then there’ll be the stage of bargaining where people are trying to figure out … will there be some kind of consensus candidate that emerges.”

The question might be, are House Republicans prepared for a floor fight that hasn’t happened in 100 years? 

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A New Era

Whether the Speaker of the House ends up being Kevin McCarthy or someone else, chances are things will be very different from the Pelosi era. After decades in the House, Nancy Pelosi refined her skills as a master manipulator of votes when she needed them.

Another possible wrench thrown in the works for McCarthy, although not a likely one, has former President Donald Trump continuing to live rent free in the collective minds of Democrats.

During an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier this month, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) suggested to host Margaret Brennan that certain “far right” House members may vote for Trump to be Speaker.

Raskin stated, “It’s a real problem for Kevin McCarthy now, because there are certain pro-Trumpists within his House caucus who refuse to accept that he’s really with Trump and they want to get rid of McCarthy. They might just vote for Trump.”

Per the Constitution, the Speaker of the House is not required to be a member of Congress, but the chances of Trump becoming Speaker are somewhere between zero and zero.

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Not Everyone is On Board

Currently, five GOP House members have stated they will not support Kevin McCarthy’s bid for Speaker. If Republicans end up with 222 seats, and all 435 members vote, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes.

In short, if McCarthy can’t get the votes needed, the House will run as many elections as it takes until some candidate passes the mark. The last time that happened was in 1923.

One Republican House member actively opposing McCarthy is Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). He has laid the less-than-stellar GOP midterm performance at the feet of McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

According to the Washington Examiner, Gaetz has been making phone calls to colleagues to convince them of another choice. Gaetz said in a statement, “Just as I have done after every election, you can count on me having conversations with my colleagues on matters of policy, politics, and leadership.”

McCarthy has also appeared to go soft on any possible impeachment inquiries, of President Joe Biden or any other member of the Biden’s cabinet. Prior to the election, McCarthy was interviewed by CNN’s Melanie Zanona, who asked him if “impeachment is on the table.”

McCarthy’s response was to pour cold water on it. 

Zanona pressed McCarthy and said, “Some of your members already calling for impeachment. What do you say to those members?”

It was here that McCarthy may have given a squishy preview of things to come and replied:

“One thing I’ve known about the land of America, it’s the rule of law. And we will hold the rule of law and we won’t play politics with this. We’ll never use impeachment for political purposes. That doesn’t mean if something rises to the occasion it would not be used. At any other time, it wouldn’t matter if it’s Democrats or Republicans. But the idea of what Democrats have done, what Adam Schiff has done, is treacherous… We’re better than that. We need to get our nation back on track. That’s what the Commitment to America does.”

Matt Gaetz summed up his assessment of McCarthy, saying, “House Republicans need a leader with credibility across every spectrum of the GOP conference in order to be a capable fighting force for the American people. That person is not Kevin McCarthy.” 

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