Following a week of contentious debate in the House of Representatives culminating with Republicans electing Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to serve as Speaker of the House, those who once opposed him are looking to move forward as allies.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who led the opposition to McCarthy and was the recipient of some defector votes during the 15-ballot voting series, released a statement saying he will be watching to see if McCarthy stays true to his promises.
“Earlier this morning, Kevin McCarthy was elected as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 118th Congress. It is important that he be successful and I wish him success in fighting the Democrats and advancing the Republican agenda,” Biggs said.
He added: “He has shown a new willingness to empower the people of the country and I will be watching closely to see if he stays true to his word.”
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In his statement, Biggs admitted to leading an effort to back a candidate for speaker other than McCarthy but said he ultimately came around to understanding that his opposition would not hold.
“For months, I led an effort to elect a House Speaker that would change the status quo and advance America First principles. I challenged Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker in multiple ballots, nominated several individuals who I thought could serve as viable alternative Speaker candidates, and stayed true to my word that I would not vote for Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker despite facing immense pressure from his machine,” he said.
“On the 15th ballot, it became clear that Kevin had the votes to become the next House Speaker and my objection to him wouldn’t hold anymore. While this may have not been the overall outcome that you wanted, the opposition effort still revealed a few positives,” Biggs continued.
The opposition, Biggs argued, was business as usual and he looks forward to working with him in the future.
“First, we deliberated as a body for the first time in a long time and showed glimpses of what a bona fide constitutional republic should look like. We ought to keep doing that. Second, we secured concessions that decentralize power from Leadership and gives power back to the people. And finally, we proved that the House Speakership is earned, not given,” the Arizona Republican said.
He added: “I look forward to working with Kevin, my Republican colleagues, and serving you all in the 118th Congress.”
McCarthy won the speakership when members voted for a 15th and final time early Saturday morning. In the final tally, McCarthy won 216 votes, one over the 215-vote threshold.
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Republicans roared in celebration, repeatedly chanting “USA! USA! USA!”
In the final tally, Biggs and Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Elijah Crane of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, and Matthew Rosendale of Montana each voted “present.”
Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who was also nominated and received votes for the speakership earlier in the week, also congratulated McCarthy.
“What our nation has witnessed this week is a testament to the majesty of our Constitutional Republic and the ideals which have sustained our country for 246 years,” Donalds said after the vote. “Since day one, I’ve said leadership isn’t given, it’s earned, and the fruits of tireless labor have delivered a product that puts the American people first and restores power to We The People.”
He added: “As I enter my second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, it’s been my honor to work alongside my colleagues to get to this moment and elect the next Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy. In this Congress, Republicans will listen to our nation’s forgotten men and women and fulfill our Commitment to America.”
“It’s a new day in the House. Under this new leadership, my colleagues and I will fight to secure our borders, prioritize sound economic policy that lowers inflation, empower parents and children in education, hold the Biden administration accountable, and improve the lives of hardworking American families,” Donalds concluded.
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After winning, McCarthy gave a speech, swore in new members, and formally opened the 118th session.
“That was easy enough,” the Californian joked.
“I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. I will never give up for you, the American people. And I will never give up on keeping our Commitment to America,” he also said. “Our nation is worth fighting for.”
Later in his remarks, McCarthy vowed to reopen the U.S. Capitol Building, which remained behind additional security measures and was mostly inaccessible to the public following the riots on Jan. 6, 2021.
“My friends – this chamber is now fully open for all Americans,” he said, drawing thunderous applause from Republicans. Democrats in the chamber remained silent.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.