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Kevin McCarthy clears GOP hurdle on path to speakership

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cleared the first major hurdle on his path to become the next Speaker of the House, winning the GOP nomination for the position by 188 to 31 on Tuesday. 

While McCarthy was widely expected to become the party's nominee for the position, he faced a fierce, last-minute challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) representing the GOP's right flank, still reeling from the Republicans' lackluster results during the 2022 midterms. Biggs had been backed by MAGA Republican figures like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) who reportedly worked to actively whip votes against McCarthy in the lead-up to Tuesday's vote. McCarthy, however, enjoyed the public support of both former President Donald Trump, and — perhaps surprisingly — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) who called any potential challenge a "bad strategy" for the party

Although McCarthy earned the overwhelming GOP support for the speaker's gavel, he faces a significantly more difficult trial when the full House of Representatives votes on who should become the next speaker. Republicans are bracing for a razor-thin congressional majority in which even a few defections could scuttle the necessary 218 votes needed to assume the speakership. With more than 30 members of his own party already voting against him, McCarthy now needs to win their support if he hopes to reach the requisite count. Already Rep. Don Bacon (R-Ne.) has threatened a willingness to work with Democrats in support of a moderate nominee should McCarthy's campaign fail.