Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins Announces Support for Kevin McCarthy as Speaker
WASHINGTON D.C. (KPEL News) - Rep. Clay Higgins, who represents Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District, announced Tuesday morning that he would be supporting Rep. Kevin McCarthy in his bid for Speaker of the House.
The statement, which came shortly before the first ballot vote for Speaker, is Higgins' first public comment on his stance for Speaker. In a November ballot meant to test where the party was at the time, Higgins did vote for Freedom Caucus member Rep. Andy Biggs. However, Higgins said, now is the time for "unity."
My vote in November reflected my core principles as a man who has sworn an oath to our Constitution, not to any one individual. That season of debate has been largely successful in unprecedented ways [...] That season of debate has passed. It was worth the fight and the need for reforms continues but now is the time for unity as a party, as we fulfill our Constitutional obligation to elect a Speaker of the House. Kevin McCarthy has been duly elected as the Republican nominee for Speaker, and I am a Republican American man.
However, McCarthy lost the first round vote when more than four Republicans defected and supported other members of the caucus - including Biggs and Rep. Jim Jordan. It was the first time in more than a century that a House Speaker did not win in the first round of voting.
To win the ballot, a Speaker candidate must get a majority of the vote from present members. In a full Congress, that means 218 votes.
McCarthy has faced stiff opposition from members of his own caucus. Five Republicans had declared themselves a no vote no matter what, and more than two dozen others have likewise said he has not offered enough in concessions to conservatives.
He had lost the first ballot before the roll call, which goes alphabetically, had gotten out of the "C" names.
You can read Higgins' full statement below:
“Over the past several months, members of the House Republican Conference have engaged in a season of unprecedented negotiations and sometimes contentious debate. Those conversations have been driven by the House Freedom Caucus, of which I am a member. However, to their credit, Republican leadership has been receptive and has facilitated these conversations to the benefit of our Conference and our party. The rule changes that we fought for help restore the power of each individual office to this deliberative body.
“Now, this is the beginning of a new Congress. We have a Constitutional duty to elect a Speaker of the House before any legislative business can be conducted. Not a rule or a tradition… it’s Constitutional writ that Congress shall elect a Speaker of the House at the beginning of each new Congress. Without a Speaker, no committees are formed, no hearings take place, and no conservative legislation moves forward.
“In our internal debates, Kevin McCarthy received 185 votes. There were 31 of us who voted for another candidate. I was one of those 31. I have had a solid working relationship with Kevin since 2017 and I’ve spoken on that truth very candidly for six years. My vote for Andy Biggs in November reflected my support for deep Conference debate regarding Constitutionalist reform during that season of Conference deliberation. My vote in November reflected my core principles as a man who has sworn an oath to our Constitution, not to any one individual. That season of debate has been largely successful in unprecedented ways. HFC drove that debate, and Kevin McCarthy facilitated the debates. Heavy, passionate, long unscripted debates, over and over again. Conservatives won by introducing and encouraging very significant Constitutionalist reforms deep into the actual rules language of our Conference and of the House itself. Here is a link to those changes. That season of debate has passed. It was worth the fight and the need for reforms continues but now is the time for unity as a party, as we fulfill our Constitutional obligation to elect a Speaker of the House. Kevin McCarthy has been duly elected as the Republican nominee for Speaker, and I am a Republican American man.”