Kevin McCarthy lost in two rounds to become House speaker on Tuesday, a historic defeat with no clear way out as House Republicans dug in for a long, ugly start to the new Congress.
McCarthy garnered 203 votes in both rounds in the GOP-controlled House, fewer than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries.
McCarthy planned a “floor war” to win over right-flank Republicans who wouldn’t vote for him. It wasn’t apparent how the embattled GOP leader could rebound after failing to win the gavel on the first vote.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a McCarthy foe who earned six votes in the first round, urged his colleagues to remove their objections before the second vote.
McCarthy needs support, Jordan added.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz re-endorsed Jordan. highlighting party pandemonium.
Gaetz nominated “the most talented, hardest working member of the Republican conference,” who presented a speech with greater vision than the alternative.
Second-round Jordan got 19 votes.
McCarthy smiled through it all and seemed intent on wearing down his colleagues. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican, said the Californian from Bakersfield “has what it takes” to lead House Republicans. He entered the floor, posed for selfies, and earned a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle.
“Kevin McCarthy has pushed harder than anyone for this majority,” remarked Stefanik.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a conservative former Freedom Caucus leader, challenged on the first vote. 19 Republicans defected, depriving McCarthy a majority by voting for Biggs, Jordan, or others.
First-round in-person voting was tense, at least among Republicans. Democrats cheered as they voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
McCarthy got 203 first-round votes to Biggs’ 10 and other Republicans’ 9. Jeffries earned the most votes (212). No candidate gained majority support.
After a rowdy private GOP meeting, conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and linked with Trump’s MAGA programme were outraged, calling the meeting a “beat down” by McCarthy loyalists and remained opposed to the GOP leader.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., head of the Freedom Caucus and a Trump 2020 election challenger, said, “One person could have reversed all this.”
McCarthy rebuffed the group’s last-ditch offer for rules adjustments, the group said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., stated, “You can’t let the biggest alligator drain the swamp.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., claimed he disregarded them.
Democrats lost control of the House, ushering in a new era of divided government. After two years of Democratic dominance of both chambers of Congress, House Republicans are eager to tackle President Joe Biden’s plan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finished the latest session to a standing ovation from her Democratic colleagues.
The chaplain prayed to awaken the 118th Congress.
First, House Republicans elected a speaker, who comes after the president.
McCarthy failed despite Trump’s backing.
Democrats chose Jeffries, D-N.Y., who is taking over as party leader, as speaker — a symbolic move in the minority that took on more weight as Republicans disintegrated.
Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the third-ranking Democrat, nominated his colleague.
McCarthy’s opponents were Trump-aligned Republicans. They don’t think he’s conservative enough to fight Democrats. It’s similar to when Republicans regained the House majority in 2010, when the tea-party class ushered in a new era of hardball politics and sent Speaker John Boehner into early retirement.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va): “Nothing’s changed.” “Kevin McCarthy’s the problem.”
McCarthy could lose a few GOP votes with 222 seats. Some MPs can be absent or vote present, as Pelosi and Boehner did.
McCarthy has failed to win over a core group of right-wing Republicans led by the Freedom Caucus, despite weeks of closed-door discussions and promised rule changes.
Conservative Republicans challenged McCarthy privately. According to a Republican in the room, he pushed back.
McCarthy supporters created their own campaign, “Only Kevin,” to shut off the opposition and declare their allegiance to him.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said minority dissatisfaction was mounting.
McCarthy had no opponent.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, might be a potential choice. A conservative, Scalise is liked by his colleagues and considered as a hero after surviving a gunshot wound in 2017.
McCarthy and Scalise are now allies. Another Republican suggested Monday that Scalise was making calls on the speaker’s race. Scalise’s staff called the claim “false.”
The last multi-round speaker’s contest was in 1923.
Former Republican leadership assistant Doug Heye remarked, “This is more than one individual.” “Whether Republicans can govern”
Without a speaker, the House can’t form, name committee chairs, or investigate the Biden administration.
Mitch McConnell will become the Senate’s longest-serving party leader.
McConnell might be a credible partner for Biden as he seeks bipartisan successes in the new era of divided government. The two men were set to appear together later this week in the GOP leader’s home state of Kentucky to celebrate federal infrastructure funding in a critical Kentucky-Ohio bridge.
McCarthy should have been elected speaker. He guided his party to the majority by raising millions of dollars and recruiting new lawmakers.
McCarthy dropped out of the speaker’s race in 2015 when it became evident he lacked conservative support to replace Boehner.
The holdouts want McCarthy to reinstate a rule that permits any lawmaker to call a vote to remove the speaker.
Pelosi removed the rule after conservatives used it to threaten Boehner’s ouster, but McCarthy agreed to reinstate it with a higher threshold of five lawmakers. Insufficient, said conservatives.