House Republicans Choose Their Fighter

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy walks through the Captiol Monday. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

On Monday night, Republicans didn’t know for sure if they would win a majority in the House of Representatives. But that didn’t stop them from pressing ahead with their leadership elections this afternoon, a week after their underwhelming midterms performance.

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy shouldn’t have too much trouble clearing the internal conference vote today, where he needs only a simple majority of Republicans to become the speaker-elect.

But the real test will come in January, when he’ll have to win 218 votes on the House floor to take the speaker’s gavel. Republicans may have the majority by only a few seats, leaving virtually no margin for disagreement within the party. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are mounting a challenge by Rep. Andy Biggs in today’s internal conference vote, part of their efforts to get McCarthy to agree to rules changes to open up the legislative process and to give conservatives more power.

How much support Biggs draws away from McCarthy will determine how much work the GOP leader will have to do to make his speakership dreams a reality.

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