House Republicans on Tuesday chose Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as their nominee for speaker, despite opposition from some conservatives and with control of the chamber still undecided following last week’s midterm elections.
McCarthy, who currently serves as minority leader, is angling for the speakership should Republicans take control of the chamber. The GOP is one seat away from gaining a majority in the House.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is the current speaker.
The Republican majority is on track to be narrower than had been forecast before the midterms, and that created turbulence ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Thirty-one Republicans voted against McCarthy, signaling that he must shore up his support before the vote on the speakership takes place in January. The vote was 188-31, reports said, with McCarthy facing off against conservative challenger Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona.
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McCarthy has vowed to scrap the Biden administration’s planned hiring of thousands of extra IRS employees, to push for greater privacy and data-security protections and to begin investigations into political adversaries and their actions. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way the Biden administration has responded to the increasing volatility of local school board meetings are all potential targets of GOP probes.
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House Republicans’ plans, however, will meet with fierce resistance in the Senate, where Democrats maintain control after Tuesday’s midterms.
The election for House speaker will be held on the first day of the new Congress in January. A candidate needs 218 votes win the post.
Biggs, McCarthy’s challenger, formerly led the right-wing House Freedom Caucus.