- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2022

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona is expected to challenge House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker in this week’s party leadership elections.

Mr. Biggs, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, appeared to be launching the long-shot bid for speaker to underscore Mr. McCarthy‘s lack of support in the conference.

“The speaker doesn’t have 218 votes and there will be an alternative challenger,” said Biggs spokesman Matthew Tragesser.

The anticipated challenge from Mr. Biggs was first reported by CNN.

House leadership elections are scheduled for Tuesday, but Freedom Caucus members are calling for a delay so the full conference can participate after all House races have been called.

A group of 40 leaders of conservative organizations sent an open letter to House and Senate Republicans calling for a delay of leadership elections until after the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia when “all election results are fully decided.”

SEE ALSO: Emboldened Freedom Caucus presents hurdles to Kevin McCarthy’s run for House speaker

“The Republican Party needs leaders who will confidently and skillfully present a persuasive coherent vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do. Many current elections are still undecided. There should be no rushed leadership elections,” it said.

The final tally from the midterm elections also isn’t complete, though Republicans are projected to emerge with a thin majority.

Another goal of the challenge against Mr. McCarthy is to gain concessions from him on what will be included in the new House rules.

“I have a better chance than he does,” a GOP aide close to the House Freedom Caucus quipped to The Washington Times about Mr. Biggs potentially running, underscoring that the challenger simply wants to invoke pressure. 

Mr. Biggs declined to say he was officially running. He told reporters only that “there will be a challenger” on Tuesday.  

Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana, also a Freedom Caucus member, said that the party “will ultimately be unified” when the full House will vote for their next speaker on Jan. 3.

“The majority of Republicans will be having conversations with themselves tomorrow, and the following day, and as we move forward in this season of debate and deliberation,” he said. “But the party will be united on Jan. 3.”

Freedom Caucus members in September sent Mr. McCarthy a letter that included several demands, including restoring a rule to allow any member to request a vote to oust the speaker and eliminating the automatic suspension of the debt ceiling without a standalone vote when the House adopts a budget resolution.

Freedom Caucus members also want to prohibit omnibus spending packages.

This is only a partial list. Mr. McCarthy has not responded to the letter, according to Rep. Bob Good of Virginia.

Several GOP lawmakers in the conservative caucus want Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio to run for speaker, but he has already endorsed Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. McCarthy, of California, will likely win the internal House GOP election Tuesday by a simple majority vote.

House Republican leadership candidates are expected to pitch themselves to their fellow lawmakers Monday at a candidate forum on Capitol Hill, despite uncalled races that leave the majority of the lower chamber in question.

Additionally, GOP lawmakers will vote on a rules package Wednesday for the next Congress.

Susan Ferrechio contributed to this story.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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