The hard line Freedom Caucus is poised to offer an “alternative” to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as House speaker.
“McCarthy doesn’t have 218 and there will be an alternative challenger,” a spokesman for Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told Fox News Digital.
Biggs, who chaired the Freedom Caucus until earlier this year, is reportedly mulling a run against McCarthy in either the internal House Republican conference vote set for Tuesday or on the floor in January. The fire-brand GOP lawmakers’ staff did not clarify if he would be a candidate.
Rumors within the Freedom Caucus, however, have grown in recent days that Biggs is likely to make a bid for the speaker’s gavel. Several top Republican aides told Fox News Digital they had heard Biggs was weighing a run.
McCarthy, who has led House Republicans since 2019, is expected to be elected overwhelmingly as his conference’s speaker-designee on Tuesday as only a majority vote if required. It does not, however, mean the California Republican’s speakership bid is secured. To become speaker, McCarthy will need at least 218 votes if the entire 435-member House is seated and voting in January.
Fox News Digital’s request for comment from McCarthy’s office was not returned Monday.
Currently, the potential Republican majority looks to be anywhere between 218 seats, the bare minimum needed to control the House, and 230 seats. The latter would constitute a sweep of all outstanding races, including some in which Democrats are favored, but still falls far short of the 60 seats McCarthy predicted could be possible under a GOP wave that never materialized.
McCarthy’s allies and opponents are watching Tuesday’s internal conference vote closely for his margin of victory.
“If there are only a handful of defections, people will say Kevin [McCarthy] likely has this and his hand becomes stronger,” said a senior aide to GOP leadership. “But if the vote against him is in the double digits, then all bets are off the table.”
Complicating matters is that few know exactly how much cushion McCarthy will have in January because the size of the GOP majority has yet to be called.
“If the GOP majority is 218, he can’t afford to lose a single vote,” said the aide. “If it’s 228 he can probably lose up to 10 votes. All eyes are on the conference vote because that will be the first sign of how strong or vulnerable McCarthy is right now.”
Even if McCarthy does draw double-digit opposition in the conference vote, the California Republican will have at least until January to strike a deal with the Freedom Caucus.
The hard line group, which counts among its membership more than two dozen lawmakers, wants to see the speaker’s office decentralize its powers.
Among its demands are restoring the power to remove a speaker by a vote that could be called at any time; ensuring a floor vote on any amendment if 10% of the GOP conference cosponsors it, and reinstating a “majority of the majority” rule under which bills would only advance when supported by most GOP members.
The Freedom Caucus is also pushing for House committees to elect their own chairman, rather than the current process in which the leadership-stacked GOP steering committee is tasked with the responsibility.
“Many of us feel like there’s this illusion of representative government that our citizens have that’s not realistic,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa. There is “this top-down driven program here in Washington, D.C., where leadership calls all the shots, and you just vote on the floor not having been involved in any of the conversations.”
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.