Updated Nov 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House GOP votes to nominate McCarthy for speaker

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, wearing a blue suit jacket, white shirt and a red and white tie, walks in the Capitol visitors center trailed by reporters, security and staff.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

House Republicans on Tuesday voted 188-31 by secret ballot to nominate House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker of the House, according to three sources in the room.

Why it matters: With Republicans on track to retake the House majority, the vote means McCarthy has cleared a major hurdle on his still-tenuous path to becoming speaker in the new Congress. But he still fell far short of the 218 votes he needs on the House floor come January.

  • McCarthy will now begin a multi-week effort to court the dozens of members who didn't vote for him. Multiple conservatives have already been outlining the concessions they want him to make in exchange for their support.
  • House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected majority leader unanimously by voice vote, per two of the sources in the room.
  • National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) was elected House Republican whip over Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Banks (R-Ind.), according to one of those sources. Emmer beat Banks 115-106.

By the numbers: McCarthy beat Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus who was nominated by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas).

  • The win comes despite an underwhelming performance by Republicans in last Tuesday's midterms that spurred conservatives to voice objections to keeping McCarthy in the top leadership spot.
  • The Freedom Caucus had hoped that by voting for Biggs in opposition to McCarthy, they could demonstrate that McCarthy doesn't have the 218 votes he needs to be officially elected speaker by a vote of the full House.

What we're watching: Later this week the House GOP will reconvene to hash out the rules for the 118th Congress. That process will be pivotal in determining whether McCarthy can pull his members together for the full House vote on Jan. 3.

  • The Freedom Caucus has been pushing for rules changes that would shift significant power from the hands of leadership to the rank-and-file.
  • That includes allowing any member to introduce a motion to remove the speaker, which McCarthy and his allies strongly oppose.

What they're saying: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told Axios ahead of the vote that no concessions will sway him to back McCarthy in January. “I’m not trading the cow for any magic beans," he said.

  • Others are more movable. "My position remains the same until further notice — no one has 218 (or close, as needed)," Roy said in a statement. "We have to sit down and establish the fundamental changes needed."
  • Republicans will consider two dozen proposed amendments to GOP conference rules on Wednesday, the vast majority of which were proposed by Freedom Caucus members, according to a list obtained by Axios.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details and a statement from Roy.

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