House Republicans are grappling with choosing party leadership after the midterm elections

Aafter failing to bring a red wave in last week’s midterms, House Republicans on Tuesday they will choose their leader, who will govern with far less than the expected majority.

House Republicans gathered Monday for a forum to welcome new members and discuss the future of party leadership. Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader and front-runner for the speakership, presented his proposal at the Republican conference.

It was “a lively conversation about the direction of the conference, where we go from here,” Congressman Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who is himself vying to become House majority whip, told reporters after the meeting. “We have strong Republican leadership ready to go, ready to go on Jan. 3 when we take back the House.”

Read more: How Democrats defied history in the midterm elections — and what it means for 2024.

As of Monday evening, Republicans still had not gained control of the House, with the Associated Press putting the GOP at 212 seats and 218 needed to win. But Republicans are widely expected to pick up the gavel in 2023, albeit with a much smaller majority than some had predicted.

By a narrow margin, dissent from the far right of the party can carry considerable force. Reports before Monday’s meeting said the House Freedom Caucus, a coalition of some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, could challenge McCarthy for the chairmanship. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, a former caucus chairman, announced he would run against McCarthy on Newsmax on Monday evening.

“It’s going to be tough,” Biggs said. “It’s not just about Kevin, I think it’s about institutional direction and trajectory, and there we’ll see if we have enough people who agree that we need to change the trajectory of this place and open it up so that people can actually represent their constituents in a more open and transparent manner.”

Congressman Matt Goetz, R-Florida, said he did not support McCarthy’s bid for the presidency. “I think you’re going to see a critical mass saying we want to turn the page, we want new leadership, we want fresh faces and new ideas,” he told reporters after Monday’s forum. “I can tell you as I stand here right now that Kevin McCarthy does not have 218 votes to become speaker. I don’t think he has 200.

Read more: Kevin McCarthy might actually be good at it

But other members of the far right have joined McCarthy and say they will work to get their colleagues on board. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia told reporters Monday that he supports party unity and supports McCarthy. “If we don’t rally behind Kevin McCarthy, we’re opening the door for the Democrats to hire some of our Republicans, and they might only need one or two because we don’t know what we’re going to have in the majority,” Green said, “and I’m not going to let for this to happen.

McCarthy would only need to secure a majority of House Republicans to win Tuesday’s leadership vote. But he will need 218 votes in January’s presidential election, and it is not yet clear whether he has all the votes he needs. Some Republicans, including Goetz and Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, have called on the party to delay the vote until all House races are called.

The race for the chairmanship is just one indication of the battles to come in the party, where with a fragile majority every vote will count.

Correction, November 14

The original version of this story incorrectly identified Rep. Dan Bishop as one of the Republican congressmen who spoke to reporters Monday. Rep. Bishop was not present.

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Write to Jasmine Aguilera c [email protected].

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