At least five House Republicans are on the record opposing Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bid to become speaker when the party takes control in January.
The high-profile defections have raised questions about whether McCarthy, R-Calif., will have the votes necessary to clinch the position on the floor of the House. Officially, 218 votes are needed to elect a speaker when the next Congress assembles on Jan. 3.
McCarthy's margin is significantly narrow. The GOP is expected to wind up with a 222-seat majority in January, compared to an estimated 213 seats for Democrats. If all 435 members of the House are present and voting for the speaker in January, McCarthy can lose no more than four Republican votes.
At the moment, there are at least five House Republicans who oppose McCarthy while several others are seen as on the fence.
'House Republicans need a leader with credibility across every spectrum of the GOP conference in order to be a capable fighting force for the American people,' said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. 'That person is not Kevin McCarthy.'
Gaetz, along with GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, is seen as a 'hard no' on McCarthy. Regardless of the concessions offered, the three are unlikely to vote for the Californian's ascension to speaker.
The other two Republicans, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana, have also voiced their opposition publicly. Both lawmakers, however, have not explicitly ruled out voting for McCarthy in exchange for concessions on House rules.
Both men have said such concessions would have to be large to quell their reservations. At the moment, conservative hardliners like Good and Rosendale want to decentralize the speaker's powers over committees and the way legislation moves through the House.
'Each member of Congress has earned and deserves equal participation in the legislative process,' said Rosendale.
McCarthy has already agreed to some of the demands by changing the makeup of the internal GOP steering committee, which decides committee assignments, to empower rank-and-file members. The Californian Republican is also expected to support requirements that legislation moves through the committee process and receive extensive debate before being brought to the House floor for a vote.
'Kevin [McCarthy] knows when the time is right to strike a deal,' said an aide to GOP leadership. 'This is all public negotiating right now.'
McCarthy did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.