Kevin McCarthy is no longer trapped in congressional purgatory. Thanks to an underwhelming midterm for his party, the longtime GOP leader had to unite a cantankerous bunch of House members to get enough votes to become Speaker. But in the first round of voting on Monday, he lost the votes of 19 Republicans, when he could afford to lose just four defectors. Through Thursday, he has lost the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh rounds of voting as well. Then there was finally some substantive movement towards McCarthy in the 12th and 13th rounds on Friday afternoon, but it still wasn’t enough to end the humiliation. Nor was the 14th late Friday. Finally in the 15th round, which ended early Saturday morning, he secured enough votes (and “present” votes from holdouts) to become Speaker, at last. Read on for live updates (with the most recent appearing first) on the chaos in the Capitol.
After a long, messy, humiliating wait, Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House
ED KILGORE: On the 15th ballot, after a few minutes of sweaty madness revolving around an apparent Matt Gaetz refusal to honor a promise to put McCarthy over the top on the 14th, the Californian finally won his gavel. Reportedly none other than Donald J. Trump spoke with Gaetz and at least one of the other holdouts, and word got around that they’d surrender. McCarthy personally spoke with Gaetz, who apparently promised to vote for the putative Speaker if his vote was needed. It wasn’t, as all the former holdouts voted “present” and McCarthy won a spare majority of the 428 members voting.
After tonight’s tense ordeal, the new House leadership have mercifully postponed a vote on a rules package until Monday, but they will swear in members after remarks from the new Speaker.
Presents for McCarthy
Holdouts Biggs, Boebert, Crane, and Gaetz have all voted “present” — so McCarthy is now lined up to finally become Speaker, without any of them affirming it directly.
Did Trump make a difference?
Round 15 begins
And the Republicans — including McCarthy — seem psyched.
Some House Republicans now appear to be chanting “one more time!”
Now there’s a motion to adjourn until Monday
Doesn’t seem like anybody knows what’s going to happen next.
No dice, but plenty of drama
Gaetz votes “present.” McCarthy still doesn’t have the votes to be Speaker, and there will need to be a round 15. Meanwhile the C-SPAN cameras roll:
Gaetz is now the only remaining holdout — and potential kingmaker
Some mid-vote background drama
This round might finally be it?
It will take one rebel defection — or two more present votes — from Gaetz and Rosendale to make McCarthy speaker, since Biggs, Crane, and Good have already voted against him.
Gaetz seemed (maybe) ready to throw in the towel earlier
Here’s what the congressman, who has vowed never to vote for McCarthy, said to Fox News’ Sean Hannity ahead of the late-night vote:
I am excited and encouraged, I am grateful that speaker-designate McCarthy has been so receptive to each and every change that we have demanded. … We may have a few finishing touches. We may be able to get this resolved tonight. But I am proud of the entire Republican Conference.
Round 14 has begun
ED KILGORE: Fitting that North Carolina’s Patrick McHenry, who led the negotiations with the House GOP rebels, is renominating McCarthy for what he hopes will be the final ballot.
Signs of angst
What is McCarthy agreeing to?
Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains what we know about the deal McCarthy made thus far:
The full proposal hasn’t leaked, but parts of it have, and from what we know, there appear to be three main components.
First: McCarthy made promises about how he would approach government-spending-related issues like appropriations bills and the debt ceiling, and those promises appear to set the stage for tense showdowns with Democrats.
Second: McCarthy agreed to a change in the House rules that would make it easier to trigger an effective no-confidence vote in his own leadership.
Third: McCarthy agreed to committee assignments demanded by the holdouts, including placing Republicans associated with the hardline Freedom Caucus on the powerful Rules Committee.
This likely isn’t everything McCarthy gave away — he probably also made various other specific promises to specific people in private. But the overall upshot is that the right flank of the GOP will have a major say in how McCarthy runs his House, and that there will be tense times ahead as they try to tackle the basic work of governance.
Read the rest of Prokop’s explainer here.
Adjourned until 10 p.m.
House Republicans successfully called for an adjournment until 10 p.m. Friday — so they could work on finally getting McCarthy over the hump somewhere off camera.
Meanwhile, McCarthy is pre-boasting:
Who’s persuadable in the gang of six?
ED KILGORE: I think it’s assumed Boebert, Gaetz, and Biggs will hold out until the bitter end. So it’s all about flipping Crane and Rosendale. Both freshmen. Rosendale is assumed to be running for the Senate. Crane is an ex-Navy SEAL from Arizona, the land of Kari Lake and Blake Masters.
Six holdouts remain, but McCarthy may only need to convert two
We’re going to a 14th round, at the very least. But two absent McCarthy supporters, Ken Buck and Wesley Hunt, are reportedly expected to return to the chamber sometime Friday night, netting him another vote when all is said and done. If they do, McCarthy will have 216 of the 218 votes he’ll need to become Speaker — if nothing else changes between now and then.
A caveat to McCarthy’s capitulation?
At least one more flip, but 14th round likely
Maryland’s Andy Harris has become Friday’s 15th GOP rebel to defect to the McCarthy side, but with five other holdouts having already voted against him in the 13th round (Biggs, Boebert, Crane, Gaetz, and Good), a 14th round of voting is probably inevitable.
The 13th round of voting has begun
With the return of Democratic representative David Trone to the chamber, who had left for a scheduled surgery, McCarthy now needs 217 votes; he got 213 in the last round.
Some historical context
Only the hardcore remain
ED KILGORE: The basic reality: we’re more or less back to the handful of “Never Kevin” votes we had in November. Everyone else has been bought off. Quite literally.
More than a dozen rebels flip for McCarthy in round 12
The defections and seven remaining holdouts:
And there was some trolling:
So McCarthy will not be elected Speaker in round 12, but:
It’s not yet clear what McCarthy gave up for the votes.
Gaetz goes after McCarthy again, ruckus ensues
He nominated Jim Jordan for Speaker.
It’s officially now a dozen rounds of voting
Mark Meadows’s behind-the-scenes role in the GOP chaos
Yahoo’s Jon Ward reports:
Several Republican House members fighting to stop Rep. Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker of the House met Friday morning at the offices of the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization run by Mark Meadows and Jim DeMint. …
Meadows also did not respond to a text message seeking comment about the meeting and how personally involved he is in the anti-McCarthy effort. But multiple Republican sources on Capitol Hill had mentioned that Meadows is involved in the attempt to stop McCarthy from becoming speaker — even as his former boss, Trump, has endorsed McCarthy and given him his support.
Santos and MTG
It wasn’t the first time they had hung out:
The deal that’s not a deal?
McCarthy backers are getting restless
Though several Never Kevins may be ready to strike a deal, the 200 or so McCarthy backers are getting tired of his antics. Playbook reported on Friday morning that many House Republicans are concerned about the concessions he’s making to the rebels, feel he still has no path to victory, and need to leave Washington to attend to personal matters:
Meanwhile, senior Republicans are increasingly whispering that if McCarthy can’t wrap this up soon, he needs to step aside and let someone else try. (On Thursday, we spoke to one top Republican backing him who is thinking of confronting McCarthy himself on this topic.)
Adding to the exasperation is that McCarthy’s latest concessions to conservatives that we reported on Thursday morning have not yet yielded McCarthy any new support. Negotiations continue, and even if a deal is finalized today, the subsequent vote will be a make-or-break moment.
“He needs to move several people from the ‘no’ column so he can keep the temperature down with the members who are becoming, as you well know, very impatient,” one lawmaker said. “There is a limit to how much of this crap we can take.”
An adjournment, and a night of suspense
ED KILGORE: After the 11th ballot, with speculation on fire about a deal between Kevin McCarthy and at least some of his opponents, McCarthy’s top subordinate (and the would-be Speaker favored by some of his critics), Steve Scalise, made a motion to adjourn until noon on Friday. With just one dissenting Republican, it passed over united Democratic opposition. This doesn’t necessarily mean the pending deal will sweep McCarthy to the speakership. It does mean that nearly all of the GOP rebels are at least interested in learning more about the deal that has reportedly satisfied some in their ranks.
Assuming the deal firms up overnight, attention among McCarthy backers and the rest of the country may shift from excitement over a Speaker (maybe) being elected to exactly what he has given up to gain the gavel he has wanted for so long. The last laugh may belong to those who shook him down for at least 11 ballots.
11 votes, still no Speaker
ED KILGORE: Turns out Ken Buck has left Washington for a medical procedure in Colorado, which leaves McCarthy with one less vote than he would otherwise have. After McCarthy lost the 11th round, Scalise made motion to adjourn until noon tomorrow and now they are having a 15-minute electronic vote. Will be a good test of Democratic unity (and attendance) and hard-core GOP opposition to a deal.
A formal nomination for Trump in round 11
About that deal
Ten down, on to number 11
ED KILGORE: As the deal we’ve been hearing about gets locked down (with an indeterminate number of rebels on board), the 10th ballot ends with no movement other than a few more anti-McCarthy votes drifting from Donalds to Herns, and one McCarthy voter (Ken Buck) being absent for a medical appointment.
ED KILGORE: There are new reports of a deal between McCarthy and Chip Roy being close, but it’s unclear how many of the rebels would or would not come along. You’d guess the deal-makers would want a short adjournment to wrap up any deal, but Democrats plus the hard-core anti-McCarthy Republicans might be able to block it, and in the end five Republican votes can still stop the Californian from victory.
ED KILGORE: The ninth ballot ends with no movement towards or away from McCarthy. Only vote change was Matt Gaetz abandoning his two-ballot support for Donald Trump in favor of a vote for Kevin Hern. If we go to a 10th ballot (which we will either immediately or later), it will be the longest deadlock over a Speaker’s election since before the Civil War, eclipsing the nine-ballot battle in 1924.
Chaos isn’t competence
ED KILGORE: As a ninth ballot begins with no sign of any movement, Matt Rosendale of Montana, speaking for the rebels on behalf of Byron Donalds, just said something that is surely very wrong, suggesting that “our constituents,” watching the wild spectacle under way this week, are surely “thinking this is the way Congress should always operate.” He meant they crave more debate, but it is very doubtful casual C-SPAN watchers are anything other than puzzled and appalled.
Time to throw in the towel?
The National Review’s Philip Klein sees some writing on the wall:
It is a good time for McCarthy to consider dropping out. I say this not as somebody who believes that knocking out McCarthy will somehow cleanse Washington, but as somebody who can recognize reality. It would be one thing if McCarthy were gaining support with each successive vote or there were reason to believe that further concessions would win over skeptics, but there is little reason to believe that is the case.
Eighth time not the charm
ED KILGORE: The eighth ballot ends with again no movement towards or away from Kevin McCarthy. Matt Gaetz again voted for Trump (clarifying he meant “Donald John Trump”). And two of the other rebels voted for Oklahoma congressman Kevin Hern, for no apparent reason other than variety. There’s still a lot of huddling going on between rebels and Team McCarthy folks on and off the floor. But nothing tangible, and it’s unclear whether McCarthy has the votes to adjourn the House until tomorrow or even next week to avoid further embarrassment.
Time to start minting the coin
Notes Jonathan Chait:
The right-wing rebels contesting the vote for Speaker of the House have floated a wide array of complaints against the Republican Party’s leadership — ranging from the budget deals to “cultural Marxism.” But there is one point of action in particular looming ominously on the horizon of their fevered imaginations: the federal debt ceiling. Representative Ralph Norman, one of the holdouts, told reporters that his demands of the new Speaker include a willingness to hold the full faith and credit of the government hostage to as-yet-unspecified demands. “Is he willing to shut the government down rather than raise the debt ceiling?” Norman warned. “That’s a non-negotiable item.”
Read more of Jon’s take here.
Democrats in array
ED KILGORE: In renominating Hakeem Jeffries for an eighth ballot, House Minority Whip Kathleen Clark of MA reminds listeners of the 212 votes he’s received on every ballot, in contrast to Republican disunity. The “Democrats in Disarray” meme beloved of Beltway journalists is dying a slow but noisy death.
C-SPAN gone wild
Ben Jacobs reports:
Once people would come to Congress for entertainment. The visitors gallery on Capitol Hill was a hot ticket for those looking to watch human drama and political chaos. To be fair, entertainment options were more limited in the era before Netflix or Xbox or even C-SPAN. In recent decades, such trips have become the civic education equivalent of eating broccoli — a staple of tour groups visiting Washington, but not something people do for fun. Over the past two days though, that has changed. Congress is amusing again as the nation’s attention is focused on the floor of the House of Representatives. C-SPAN’s presumably sky-high ratings haven’t been released yet, but are the subject of much speculation on Twitter (and CNN). Who needs sports or sitcoms when you can watch Kevin McCarthy step on the same rake time and time again? Seven times so far and counting, in fact.
Read the rest of Ben’s dispatch here.
On and on and on
Another vote, same result
ED KILGORE: So once again, McCarthy lost the fifth vote thwarting his bid for the speakership before the roll call was out of the Cs. His goal is likely to avoid any further attrition beyond the 21 votes he lost during the previous two ballots.
So in the end, the seventh ballot shows no movement towards or away from Kevin McCarthy. Byron Donalds lost one of his previous 20 votes to “Trump.” Victoria Spartz still voting “present.”
Or maybe Trump!
ED KILGORE: Hard-core rebel leader and all-around bad boy Matt Gaetz just created a buzz in the House by switching his vote from Byron Donalds to “Trump.”
Delusions of House GOP grandeur
ED KILGORE: The speeches being made on each ballot nominating Kevin McCarthy and his serial rivals have one thing in common: the speakers frequently allude to the total dependence “the American people” have on the conduct of the House Republican conference. It’s as though the Democratic president, the Democratic Senate and the 212 House Democrats don’t represent actual voters, but “the swamp,” or “the left” or some other abstraction. it’s a telling spinoff of the recent Republican habit of treating GOP constituencies as the only “real Americans.”
ED KILGORE: Probably as a response to the GOP rebels making Black congressman Byron Donalds their vehicle in the last few Speaker’s votes, the latest McCarthy loyalist chosen to renominate him is Michigan freshman John James. Like others before him, James is trying to claim the GOP’s original racial justice principles as still characteristic today.
Clearly either McCarthy doesn’t have the votes to adjourn again, as had been rumored to be in the works, or thinks he can show some immediate progress in a seventh ballot or so.
Meanwhile across the aisle
Signs of no progress
Success is indeed to ultimate measure of success:
But on the bright side:
So there’s a chance?
More shouting floated as potential solution
A nice burn from Pelosi
McCarthy makes major concessions, still may not have the votes
During late-night negotiations with the Never Kevins, McCarthy caved to some of their demands. The Washington Post reports:
In a major allowance to the hard-right Republicans, McCarthy offered to lower from five to one the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote on ousting the speaker — a change that the California Republican had previously said he would not accept.
McCarthy also expressed a willingness to place more members of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee, which debates legislation before it’s moved to the floor.
And he relented on allowing floor votes to institute term limits on members and to enact specific border policy legislation.
These moves would significantly weaken his power as Speaker, and it still might not be enough to win him the votes he needs.
House adjourns again without voting as deal-making progresses
During the hours after the last House adjournment, rumors abounded of intense negotiations between Team McCarthy and the GOP rebels making some real progress. There was one bit of hard news just before the chamber reconvened for an evening session: the arch-conservative Club for Growth, which has opposed McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker, decided to support him after the Congressional Leadership Fund (a McCarthy-aligned PAC that is a major player in House races) announced it would no longer endorse candidates in competitive primaries in open districts. This addressed a major conservative grievance.
With all sorts of speculation bubbling, McCarthy’s backers moved for another adjournment until noon Thursday to consolidate his apparent gains. Democrats opposed the motion and demanded a roll call vote. It passed 216-214 with just four Republicans opposing it (two members from each party did not vote).
Even if McCarthy chips away at the 21 Republican votes he lost in the sixth ballot, it still only takes five Republican votes for another candidate to block him. But if he can show major progress before the next vote, perhaps he can resist pressure to step aside in favor of a compromise candidate.
House Republicans take a break
The sixth ballot ended with absolutely no movement in any direction. Republicans decided to press for an adjournment until this evening at 8:00 p.m., and though Democrats appeared to object on a voice vote, none of them called for the “yeas and nays” (roll-call balloting). So Republicans either in small groups or perhaps as a conference will get together and figure out what, if anything, they can do to resolve the deadlock. For all the effort being made by Team McCarthy to spin it as a healthy exercise or as some sort of opening of the House to the “will of the American people,” this is bad for their party and certainly paralyzing for one of the two congressional chambers.
McCarthy has already lost the sixth vote
To no one’s surprise, McCarthy has failed to win the speakership on the sixth ballot, with five votes being cast for Byron Donalds before the roll call was out of the Cs.
Republican nomination speeches are getting testy
While renominating McCarthy for a sixth time, Republican Representative Kat Cammack took some swipes at the Biden administration, which she referred to as “Obama’s JV team in the White House.” Some would say her party being unable to elect a Speaker after five votes is pretty “JV.”
Then Representative Scott Perry (who asked Trump for a pardon over his involvement in his election schemes) attacked Nancy Pelosi in his speech nominating Byron Donalds, just moments after he declared, “This is not about personalities.” Hecklers urged him to wrap it up.
We’re heading right into a sixth vote
There’s a lot of reporting that Colorado’s Ken Buck, a veteran conservative and a House Freedom Caucus member, is saying the fifth ballot was his last as a committed supporter of Kevin McCarthy. With a sixth ballot imminent, his is clearly a vote to watch.
They’re going with a sixth ballot immediately because until a Speaker is chosen no other motion (other than a motion to adjourn) is in order.
It’s official: McCarthy fails for a fifth time
The fifth ballot was identical to the fourth: no movement towards or away from Kevin McCarthy, with 20 members voting for Byron Donalds and one (Victoria Spartz) voting “present.”
There’s a lot of speculation about negotiations happening on the floor and deals potentially being cut, but it’s not evident in today’s voting so far.
Ginni Thomas reveals she’s Never Kevin
Will the fifth time be the charm? (No.)
Republican Representative Warren Davidson nominated McCarthy for the fifth round of voting. He listed all the rules and concessions that McCarthy has already made to the GOP rebels, and pointed out that Jim Jordan (who the rebels voted for yesterday) has been given a prime investigatory role as chair man of the Judiciary Committee.
Representative Lauren Boebert then renominated Byron Donalds, the rebels’ pick. She got tongues wagging by alluding to Donald Trump’s support for McCarthy, suggesting Trump (“my favorite president”) should tell McCarthy he doesn’t have the votes and should step aside.
Votes are still being cast, but it already appears that McCarthy can’t win this round.
Meanwhile, some parts of the federal government are actually functional
McCarthy fails for a fourth time
It quickly became apparent that Kevin McCarthy’s standing would not improve much, if at all, from the previous three votes. The 20 House rebels who had cast their votes against him in the first three rounds of voting continued to do so, this time going with Representative Byron Donalds.
McCarthy also lost another vote, as Indiana’s Victoria Spatz voted “present.” That isn’t as bad as a vote for Donalds, but it does erode McCarthy’s standing and confirm he’s losing support like a tire with a slow leak.
The “present” vote from Spartz is like losing 7/8 of a vote. The way the math works, “present” votes lower the threshold for a majority while denying McCarthy a vote. So if ALL the rebels voted “present,” it would just take 10 of them to thwart McCarthy.
Byron Donalds emerges as alternative to McCarthy
Texas’s Chip Roy, one of the “never Kevins,” has nominated Florida’s Byron Donalds for Speaker. By choosing Byron Donalds as their vehicle, the rebels, are (a) trying to mitigate their image as a bunch of quasi-white-nationalist folks, (b) choosing a conspicuous outsider, and (c) putting forward someone who voted for McCarthy on the first ballot.
Once more unto the breach
In his renominating speech for Kevin McCarthy, Wisconsin’s Mike Gallagher tried to spin this week’s chaos as a positive sign of “energy.”
Buckle up for another (probably inconclusive) vote
Shortly after noon, a House quorum was reached, and a fourth Speaker vote appears imminent. Whether it will produce any more clarity seem unlikely, however.
Dem leadership wants to make GOP squirm
When the House convenes at noon, Republicans may call for a motion to adjourn immediately, buying them more time to figure out next steps to elect a Speaker. But they would need Democratic votes for that, and Democrats are in no mood to make their counterparts’ lives easier:
Today’s proceedings could be short
Or at least shorter than yesterday … though Democrats may force Republicans to keep taking humiliating votes.
Trump offers McCarthy some belated support
The former president backed McCarthy for Speaker in mid-December, but said nothing as Tuesday’s drama was unfolding. When asked if he still supported him on Tuesday evening, Trump told NBC News, “We’ll see what happens.” In a Wednesday morning Truth Social post, he finally reiterated that he wants Republican House members to “VOTE FOR KEVIN”:
Gaetz doesn’t totally reject the Taliban comparison
Representative Matt Gaetz, a leader of the Never McCarthy faction, kept twisting the knife after the House adjourned on Tuesday. He sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol asking why McCarthy is already inhabiting the speaker’s office. And when a McCarthy backer referred to his group as terrorists he said the label had some truth to it, per Playbook:
After centrist Rep. DON BACON (R-Neb.) was quoted referring to the hard-right faction as the “Taliban 20,” Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) shot back on Twitter: “Well….as hurtful and false as that is….I too am prepared for an extended battle that I will ultimately win.”
The House adjourns with no clear path ahead
With House Republicans gridlocked, Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma made a motion to adjourn the chamber until noon Wednesday; clearly the skids were greased for that to happen, since it passed by a voice vote with only scattered “nos.” McCarthy’s House Freedom Caucus tormentors wanted a break to press additional demands on the would-be Speaker, and apparently Democrats had no problem with letting Republicans stew in their own juices during what may be a tense night of negotiations.
With the original McCarthy strategy of relentlessly pursuing a majority by force majeure having failed, the question now is how much more he is willing to grovel for House Freedom Caucus votes and how much of a power play they will insist upon before either declaring partial victory by letting the Californian have his gavel or pushing for a real compromise candidate.
In the meantime, House members-elect have not yet been sworn in, and the House cannot do any real business (or even take up the symbolic anti-Biden gestures Republicans had planned to pass immediately). The longer this goes on, the more Democratic unity and Republican disunity may make a residual impression that could endure for quite some time.
McCarthy loses a vote
As the third ballot ends, Kevin McCarthy saw a tiny but perhaps significant attrition in his support, as Florida representative Byron Donalds switched his vote from McCarthy to Jim Jordan, giving the reluctant Ohioan 20. There’s now talk of an adjournment (there are still a fair number of children on the floor who are probably getting hungry and grouchy), though Team McCarthy has resisted that option up until now out of fear that additional time will allow his foes to plot.
Adjournment would require a majority vote.
McCarthy has lost the third ballot
After a good bit of jockeying to try and end the standstill, McCarthy failed early on in the third round of voting as well with at least five renegade GOP figures refusing to join McCarthy’s camp. Between voting rounds, he said that “we’re staying in until we win,” which suggests this could be a while.
McCarthy has lost the second ballot
Representative Jim Jordan tried to limit the damage, encouraging the House Freedom Caucus members who voted for him to lend their votes to Kevin McCarthy in the second round. McCarthy lost 19 Republican votes in the count. He did not gain any votes in the second round of tallying with all of the defectors rallying around Jim Jordan.
McCarthy has lost the first ballot
Republican Andy Biggs of Arizona ran to challenge McCarthy for House Speaker. While Biggs cannot win outright, he is making things harder for McCarthy. If an anti-McCarthy GOP House member voted “present,” it would have taken ten votes to sink him in the first round of voting. But because some members voted for Biggs and other Republican figures, it only took five defectors to kill McCarthy’s hopes of winning the Speaker position the first ballot. Ultimately there were ten votes for Biggs, eight votes for Jim Jordan, one for Lee Zeldin, and one for Jim Banks.
The House is expected to proceed to a second ballot directly, although Republicans appear to be in talks between the votes. Naturally, things aren’t going so smoothly:
Democrats are having a great time watching
As a sign of the Republican mess on Monday, Representative Andy Harris even voted for Lee Zeldin — who is no longer a member of the House. Many Democrats enjoyed their front-row seats to the disarray, cheering for Nancy Pelosi as she voted for Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker:
On the second round, some Republicans were also enjoying the show:
It wasn’t looking great for McCarthy ahead of the vote
As the vote neared, McCarthy made a final case for Speaker, reportedly telling House Republicans, “I’ve earned this job.” Not everyone agreed:
McCarthy certainly has some allies in the room. Politico reports that Alabama representative Mike Rogers told the caucus that anyone who does not vote for McCarthy will not get a committee seat for the next two years. “This will not be forgotten,” he said. He’s also got some enemies:
How and when the vote will come in
The election of a new Speaker is normally a routine vote that barely makes news. But conservative extremists in the House Freedom Caucus are now trying either to defeat McCarthy or to shake him down for humiliating concessions. He has already made a number of them.
At noon, the first balloting for Speaker will occur, with just two announced candidates: McCarthy and Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries. McCarthy needs a majority of members actually voting, but the House Freedom Caucus rebels are expected to vote “present” while all Democrats vote for Jeffries. The math indicates that if as many as 11 Republicans vote “present,” McCarthy won’t get his majority, and the Speaker’s election will go to a second ballot, which will occur right away. There’s really no way the House can do any other business until a Speaker is elected to supervise the organization of the chamber in the new Congress.
There’s not a lot of precedent for what happens then — there has been only one prior multi-ballot Speaker’s election — but if the extremists block McCarthy on the first ballot, they will then look for an alternative who is acceptable to a majority of House Republicans. (The name most often heard is House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who is loyally backing McCarthy.) For his part, McCarthy has indicated he will doggedly pursue his own election through subsequent ballots until the opposition crumbles; dealmaking is likely to go on behind the scenes as long as the balloting continues. It will take a while since electronic voting is not used in this situation; the first and subsequent ballots will be cast by individual voice vote, adding to the drama.
More on the Speaker stalemate
- Kevin McCarthy’s Tarnished Triumph
- C-Span’s Editorial Director on the Network’s Biggest Week Ever
- No, the Anti-McCarthy Rebels Don’t Represent ‘The American People’