House leadership is in turmoil as California GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy faces internal opposition to his bid for Speaker.
On the first day of the new Congress, McCarthy failed to secure the 218 votes needed to become Speaker of the House in three rounds of voting. Until the Speaker is elected, the House cannot conduct any business, including administering the oath of office to new members.
Tuesday’s vote marked the first time in a century that a House Speaker election took multiple ballots to end. The The longest vote in American history The year 1855 lasted for 133 rounds in two months from December 1855 to February 1856.
McCarthy faces Republican critics who want changes to the way the House operates. Although he succumbed to many of their demands, he fell short of the votes he needed.
Instead of celebrating a return to the majority on the first day, McCarthy and other GOP leaders were sorting out how to respond to an apparent rebellion that exposed division and cast doubt on their ability to govern.
McCarthy says he won’t step down and the vote will continue until he gets the necessary support.
“They can pass whoever they want, they can’t go, they will come to the conclusion that they can’t go there,” McCarthy told reporters outside the House floor.
House members voted Tuesday to adjourn until Wednesday afternoon ET, when a fourth vote is expected.
How the votes were cast
Republicans now hold a majority in the House, but minority parties typically nominate their leader for speaker, and New York’s Democratic representative. Hakeem Jeffries had more votes than McCarthy in all three. Voting Rounds.
Round 1 saw: Jeffries, 212; McCarthy, 203; 19 votes for other Republicans. In Round 2, Jeffries and McCarthy’s tally remained the same, however, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan received 19 votes.
In the 3rd round, the vote breakdown was similar, but McCarthy lost one Republican — Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida — who voted for Jordan.
Jordan spoke in support of McCarthy on the House floor shortly before the runoff began, encouraging his colleagues to vote for him.
“The differences between us and the left pale in comparison to what unfortunately controls the other party,” Jordan said. “So, it’s good that we came together. … That’s what people want us to do, and I think Kevin McCarthy is the right guy to lead us, I really do, otherwise I wouldn’t be giving this speech. .”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday — before he was nominated — Jordan said he didn’t want the job. “I’m for Kevin McCarthy, I don’t know how many times I’ve told you that I want him to chair the Judiciary Committee,” he said.
Representative of Florida. Matt Gaetz recommended Jordan after the first round of voting, saying that perhaps the best fit for the job is the one who doesn’t want it.
“The right person for Speaker of the House is not someone who wants it badly,” Gates said. “The right person for Speaker of the House is not someone who has been selling his stock for over a decade. Perhaps Jim Jordan is the right person for Speaker of the House because he has been overlooked. The lobbyists and special interests who are corrupting this place have ruined this nation under the leadership of Republicans and Democrats alike.
Democrats united with the overwhelming support of Jeffries, noting his historic appointment as the first black legislator to lead a chamber of Congress. Many who voted for Jeffries often eagerly absorbed the names of civil rights leaders and other notable black members of Congress. There is no expectation at this point that any Democratic lawmakers will cross party lines to help McCarthy become speaker.
What Quits Want
Among those who voted against McCarthy on Tuesday, several holdouts tried to win support New rules How legislation is considered in the House and how oversight hearings of the Biden administration will be structured.
McCarthy also agreed to change a rule that would allow a five-member committee to pass a resolution to remove the speaker. He has insisted for weeks that he will not agree to lower the limit on how many sponsors are needed on a “motion to vacate the chair” because it effectively weakens the speaker’s power. But McCarthy faces pressure from those on the right because he has a small size and can’t give more than a few deflections.
Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Scott Perry, a leading McCarthy critic, signed a letter with nine other Republicans published on New Year’s Day saying, “Nothing changes when nothing changes.” He quoted the letter as saying that “the times call for a radical departure from the status quo — not a continuation of the past, not a continuation of the failures of the Republican Party.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Perry said he and other members had taken a plan to him Monday night that he planned to vote against McCarthy, outlining what he would have to do to win their support, giving him 218 votes to win. Although McCarthy agreed to some of their demands, McCarthy still rejected others.
“We took him an offer last night that was completely within his reach. He turned it down short,” Perry said Tuesday morning.
Confusion is on display
The first-ballot defeat is embarrassing for the top Republican, who has led his party’s efforts to regain the majority.
McCarthy ran for speaker in 2015 when then-House Speaker John Boehner resigned, but abruptly withdrew from the race after admitting he didn’t have the votes to win.
Over the past two election cycles, McCarthy has led the political effort for House Republicans — an affiliated super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, about half a trillion dollars and campaigning for GOP candidates across the country. He and his allies predicted a “red tide” in the fall, but ultimately won only a four-seat majority.
A public vote on the House floor revealed GOP divisions and confusion. Ahead of the vote, McCarthy’s allies insisted they would not vote for any alternative candidate, and that they would stick with him, even if it was confusing.
But nothing else happens in the House of Representatives until the Speaker is elected. It is the only leadership position mentioned in the constitution.
There has been some talk of trying to rally around a consensus candidate, but McCarthy’s allies are pushing what they say is the “right” strategy — “only Kevin.” If McCarthy can’t convince some holdouts to support him, the process is likely to drag on for hours or even days.
McCarthy’s no. 2, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise publicly endorsed McCarthy and predicted he would be elected Speaker. But if McCarthy fails to get enough members to back him, GOP members could turn to Scalise as a viable alternative — or some other conservative candidate.
Scalise, who is in line to serve as House Majority Leader, released the agenda for the first two weeks in January. He also promised the House would vote on measures to repeal funding to hire IRS agents, as well as bills related to border security and abortion. But until the Speaker is elected, House committees cannot be set up, members cannot be sworn in to start a new session, and the rest of the business is stalled.
Catherine Schwartz contributed to this story.
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