Rep. Andy Biggs announced Tuesday that he will formally challenge House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid for House speaker, saying he’s the candidate who will shake up the “establishment status quo.”
Biggs (R-Ariz.), who lost to McCarthy (R-Calif.) last month 188-31 for the nomination for House speaker among the Republican caucus, has been a vocal critic of McCarthy’s leadership in the chamber.
“We cannot let this all too rare opportunity to effectuate structural change pass us by because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the establishment status quo, or because the challenge is accompanied by some minimal risk,” Biggs wrote in an op-ed in the Daily Caller on Tuesday.
“We will never defeat or change the status quo, which is taking us to the Leftist’s vision of America, by selecting a status quo candidate as the third most powerful person in the government. The Republican candidate was created by, elevated by and maintained by the establishment,” the congressman continued.
Biggs is one of five House Freedom Caucus members who say they will vote against McCarthy getting the speaker’s gavel when the full House makes its selection on Jan. 3.
The five blame McCarthy for the lack of a “red wave” in the Nov. 8 midterm elections that would have propelled the Republicans to a sizable majority in the House instead of the narrow nine-seat margin they ended up with.
While the GOP has a slight edge in the House, 222-213, Democrats retained control of the Senate.
To prevail when the full House votes in January, McCarthy would need a majority of 218 members backing him, meaning he can’t afford to lose one Republican as no Democrats are expected to back him.
The California Republican said he has spent “hours” with members of the House Freedom Caucus and has warned his Republican colleagues that the division will only hurt the party in the long run.
“Look, we have a close majority, exactly what the Democrats had in the last time. And we have laid out to the American public. They chose for us to be in the majority, for us to lead. We need to come together as one. Otherwise, we will not be successful,” McCarthy said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
He said the numerous investigations Republicans want to pursue, including into President Biden’s son Hunter Biden, and the legislation they want to pursue will fall victim to the disunity.
“If people don’t come along, that’s going to delay our ability to secure the border. That’s going to delay our ability to become energy-independent. That’s going to delay our ability to repeal 87,000 IRS agents. That’s going to delay our ability to hold the government accountable,” McCarthy said, adding that otherwise “we will be squandering this majority.”