Kevin McCarthy will attempt to become House Speaker on the second day of the new Congress after failing in repeated rounds of voting that plunged the GOP majority into uncertainty.
McCarthy was unfazed by being the first House Speaker contender in 100 years to lose on the first vote. Instead, he promised to battle until the end, saying erstwhile President Trump pushed him to unite the GOP.
Trump endorsed McCarthy early Wednesday.
After Tuesday’s impasse, the House will attempt again on Wednesday to pick a speaker. The rough opening to the new Congress foreshadowed problems with House Republicans in charge.
As campaign pledges stagnated, the new House majority grew tense. Lacking a speaker, the House can’t swear in members, name committee chairs, hold floor sessions, or investigate the Biden administration.
Legislators’ families waited as a typically happy day degenerated into mayhem, with youngsters playing in aisles or parents’ arms.
How the beleaguered GOP leader might win over right-wing conservatives was unclear. It takes 218 votes to become speaker of the House; however, the barrier might lower if members are absent or vote present, a move McCarthy looked to be exploring.
McCarthy lost 20 conservatives from his 222-seat majority in four rounds of voting.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 4, 2023
The longest and most rigorous duel for the gavel began in 1855 and lasted two months, with 133 ballots, amid slavery discussions before the Civil War.
A younger generation of conservative Republicans, many associated with Trump’s Make America Great Again program, want to block McCarthy’s rise without sacrificing their ideals.
The far-right threat was similar to the last time Republicans won control of the House, as tea party Republicans closed down the government after the 2010 midterms.
McCarthy’s supporters pleaded with holdouts to vote for the California Republican. Rep. Steve Scalise nominated McCarthy for the vote and urged his colleagues to discontinue their protest.
Scalise, a prospective GOP compromise choice, railed against Biden’s plan and claimed they couldn’t solve problems until they picked McCarthy as speaker.
Republican leaders promptly adjourned Tuesday evening after a third and final round of voting.
Jordan, McCarthy’s newly found ally, was twice nominated by conservatives, but he turned down the post. The Ohio conservative urged his colleagues to support McCarthy during the floor discussion.
Once again, if Kevin McCarthy had actually done a good job in the Midterms, he wouldn’t have this problem
But he failed miserably and should not be rewarded
Step aside aside Kevin so the Republican Party can unify around someone that will actually lead (not threaten) the GOP
— Rogan O’Handley (@DC_Draino) January 4, 2023
McCarthy has conceded to several Freedom Caucus requests to garner support, including rules changes and other concessions that allow rank-and-file more involvement in the legislative process. He quit the 2015 speaker’s race after failing to win over conservatives.
After Tuesday’s unsuccessful votes, McCarthy’s allies and adversaries huddled in Capitol conference rooms to elect a speaker.
Rep. Scott Perry, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a Trump 2020 election challenger, said McCarthy must satisfy their requests to shift the dynamic.
Democrats selected Jeffries, their new leader, as speaker. He received 212 votes. McCarthy could decrease the majority requirement if he won 213 votes and persuaded the remaining skeptics to vote present.
Past House Speakers, including Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, utilized this tactic to win with less than 218 votes.This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.