The House gaveled in at noon, and a McCarthy ally quickly re-nominated him for the job with a rousing speech designed to peel off detractors.
“Sure, it looks messy,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. But he said there was no place he’d rather be than in the new House GOP majority. “The American people are in charge,” he said.
McCarthy himself entered the chamber saying, “We’ll have another vote.”
However, with the House only about one-fourth of the way through its fourth attempt at picking a Speaker, McCarthy appeared to be on track to lose the bid because there were eight GOP votes against him, The Hill reported. To become Speaker, he needed to lose just four votes.
All eight defections so far went to Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).
It was the first time in 100 years that a nominee for House speaker could not take the gavel on the first vote, but McCarthy appeared undeterred. Instead, he vowed to fight to the finish, encouraged, he said, by former President Donald Trump to end the disarray and pull the Republican Party together.
Trump Sends Support Via Social Media
Early Wednesday, Trump publicly urged Republicans to vote for McCarthy: “CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,” he wrote on his social media site. He added: “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”
“Today, is that the day I wanted to have? No,” McCarthy told reporters late Tuesday at the Capitol after a series of closed-door meetings. Asked if he would drop out, McCarthy said, “It’s not going to happen.”
President Joe Biden, departing the White House for a bipartisan event in Kentucky with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said “the rest of the world is looking” at the scene on the House floor.
“I just think it’s really embarrassing it’s taking so long,” Biden said. “I have no idea” who will prevail.
Chaos Points to Trouble Ahead for GOP-Controlled House
The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House.
Tensions flared among the new House majority as their campaign promises stalled out. Without a speaker, the House cannot fully form — swearing in its members, naming its committee chairmen, engaging in floor proceedings and launching investigations of the Biden administration. Lawmakers’ families had waited around, as what’s normally a festive day descended into chaos, with kids playing in the aisles or squirming in parents’ arms.
But it was not at all clear how the embattled GOP leader could rebound to win over right-flank conservatives who reject his leadership. It typically takes a majority of the House to become speaker, 218 votes — though the threshold can drop if members are absent or merely vote present, a strategy McCarthy appeared to be considering.
McCarthy won no more than 203 votes in three rounds of voting, losing as many as 20 Republicans from his slim 222-seat majority,
“Kevin McCarthy is not going to be a speaker,” declared Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., one of the holdouts.