CNN

McCarthy fails for 3rd long day in GOP House speaker fight

Jan 5, 2023, 6:41 PM
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., votes for himself for the ninth time in the House chamber as the Hou...
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., votes for himself for the ninth time in the House chamber as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For a long and frustrating third day, divided Republicans kept the speaker’s chair of the U.S. House sitting empty Thursday, as party leader Kevin McCarthy failed again and again in an excruciating string of ballots to win enough GOP votes to seize the chamber’s gavel.

Pressure was building as McCarthy lost seventh, eighth and then historic ninth, 10th and 11th rounds of voting, surpassing the number 100 years ago, in a prolonged fight to choose a speaker in a disputed election. By nightfall, despite raucous protests from Democrats, Republicans voted to adjourn and return Friday to try again.

With McCarthy’s supporters and foes locked in stalemate, the House could not formally open for the new session of Congress. And feelings of boredom, desperation and annoyance seemed increasingly evident.

One McCarthy critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, cast votes for Donald Trump — a symbolic but pointed sign of the broad divisions over the Republican Party’s future. Then he went further, moving the day from protest toward the absurd in formally nominating the former president to be House speaker on the 11th ballot. Trump got one vote, from Gaetz, drawing laughter.

As night fell before the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election, Democrats said it was time to get serious.

“This sacred House of Representatives needs a leader,” said Democrat Joe Neguse of Colorado, nominating his own party’s leader, Hakeem Jeffries, as speaker.

McCarthy could be seen talking, one on one, in whispered and animated conversations in the House chamber. His emissaries sidled up to holdouts, and grueling negotiations proceeded in the GOP whip’s office down the hall. McCarthy remained determined to persuade Republicans to end the paralyzing debate that has blighted his new GOP majority.

McCarthy’s leadership team had presented a core group of the Republican holdouts with a deal on paper for rules changes in exchange for their support, said one of the opponents, conservative Republican Ralph Norman of South Carolina, as he exited a late-day meeting. It included mandating 72 hours for bills to be posted before votes, among others, though details were scarce.

Lest hopes get ahead of reality, he added, “This is round one.”

Holdouts led by the chamber’s Freedom Caucus are seeking ways to shrink the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence — with seats on key committees and the ability to draft and amend bills in a more open process.

“We’re having good discussions and I think everyone wants to find a solution,” McCarthy told reporters hours earlier.

The House, which is one-half of Congress, is essentially at a standstill, unable to launch the new session, swear in elected members and conduct official business.

Yet, despite endless talks, signs of concessions and a public spectacle unlike any other in recent political memory, the path ahead remained highly uncertain. What started as a political novelty, the first time since 1923 a nominee had not won the gavel on the first vote, has devolved into a bitter Republican Party feud and deepening potential crisis.

Jeffries of New York won the most votes on every ballot but also remained short of a majority. McCarthy ran second, gaining no ground.

McCarthy resisted under growing pressure to somehow find the votes he needed or step aside so the House could open fully and get on with the business of governing.

The incoming Republican chairmen of the House’s Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees all said national security was at risk.

“The Biden administration is going unchecked and there is no oversight of the White House,” Republicans Michael McCaul, Mike Rogers and Mike Turner wrote in a joint statement. “We cannot let personal politics place the safety and security of the United States at risk.”

But McCarthy’s right-flank detractors led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with Trump, appeared emboldened by the standoff — even though the former president publicly backed McCarthy.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the leader of the Freedom Caucus and a leader of Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election, asserted that McCarthy cannot be trusted, and tweeted his displeasure that negotiations over rule changes and other concessions were being made public.

“When confidences are betrayed and leaks are directed, it’s even more difficult to trust,” he tweeted.

Republican Party holdouts repeatedly put forward the name of Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, assuring the stalemate that increasingly carried undercurrents of race and politics would continue. They also put forward Republican Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, splitting the protest vote.

Donalds, who is Black, is seen as an emerging party leader and a GOP counterpoint to the Democratic leader, Jeffries, who is the first Black leader of a major political party in the U.S. Congress and on track himself to become speaker some day.

Another Black Republican, newly elected John James, nominated McCarthy on the seventh ballot as nominators became a roll call of the GOP’s rising stars. For the 10th it was newly elected Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, an immigrant from Mexico whose speech drew chants of “USA! USA!”

A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda, want to upend business as usual in Washington and are committed to stopping McCarthy’s rise without concessions to their priorities.

To win support, McCarthy has already agreed to many of the demands of his opponents.

One of the holdouts’ key asks is to reinstate a rule that would allow a single lawmaker to seek a motion to vacate the chair — essentially to call a House vote to oust the speaker. It’s the same rule a previous era of tea party Republicans used to threaten the removal of GOP Speaker John Boehner, and McCarthy has resisted reinstating it.

But those opposing McCarthy do not all have the same complaints, and he may never be able to win over some of them. Several Republicans appear unwilling to ever vote for McCarthy.

Ballots kept producing almost the same outcome, 20 conservative holdouts still refusing to support McCarthy and leaving him far short of the 218 typically needed to win the gavel.

In fact, McCarthy saw his support slipping to 201, as one fellow Republican switched to vote simply present, and later to 200. With just a 222-seat GOP majority, he could not spare votes.

Thursday was a third long day. Ahead of the Jan. 6 anniversary, a prolonged and divisive speaker’s fight would underscore the fragility of American democracy after the attempted insurrection two years ago.

Colorado Republican Ken Buck sat out several votes after saying Wednesday that he told McCarthy “he needs to figure out how to make a deal to move forward” or eventually step aside for someone else.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, much the way that some past Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right flank. The result: government shutdowns, standoffs and Boehner’s early retirement.

The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

Havasu Falls spills into the water pools below in Supai, Arizona, in October of 2016. Photo credit:...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls to reopen to visitors after 3-year closure

 (CNN) — Havasu Falls, one of the most intriguing features of the Grand Canyon system, will be reopening to visitors after a three-year closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s with a catch. The reopening is scheduled for February 1; however, access will be limited initially to a certain, small group. People whose previous […]
7 hours ago
Rep. George Santos leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on ...
Gregory Krieg, CNN

George Santos’ ex says congressman will never resign because ‘his ego is too big’

(CNN) — The former boyfriend of New York Rep. George Santos says the Long Island Republican facing growing calls to resign for extensively lying about his past will never do so, even as he faces multiple investigations, including into his finances. “His ego is too big. He’s not gonna resign. If they don’t find out something to get […]
7 hours ago
About 87% of Tuesday's US flight cancellations are Southwest, according to flight tracking website ...
Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace, CNN

US Transportation Dept. investigating Southwest holiday travel meltdown

The US Transportation Department said it is in the early stages of an investigation into the Southwest Airlines holiday travel meltdown in December.
1 day ago
School Shooting Newport News...
Aya Elamroussi, Chris Boyette, Dakin Andone and Michelle Watson, CNN

School board votes to cut ties with superintendent weeks after 6-year-old allegedly shot teacher

Administrators were warned that the child had a gun the day when a teacher was shot at the front door of Richneck Elementary School
1 day ago
Facebook-parent Meta said on Wednesday that it will restore former President Donald Trump's account...
Clare Duffy, CNN

Meta says it will restore Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts

It was not immediately clear whether Trump will return to the Meta platforms. Twitter restored Trump's account in November.
2 days ago
Earth core structure. Elements of this image furnished by NASA (Adobe stock)...
Lianne Kolirin, CNN

Earth’s inner core may have stopped turning and could go into reverse, study suggests

With a radius of almost 2,200 miles, Earth's core is about the size of Mars. It consists mostly of iron and nickel, and contains about about one-third of Earth's mass.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
McCarthy fails for 3rd long day in GOP House speaker fight