WASHINGTON — House Republicans flailed through a second day of multiple balloting Wednesday, unable to elect their leader Kevin McCarthy as House speaker or come up with a new strategy to end the political chaos that has tarnished the start of their new majority.
For a fourth, fifth, and sixth time, Republicans tried to vote McCarthy into the top job as the House plunged deeper into disarray. But the votes were producing almost the same outcome, 20 conservative holdouts still refusing to support him, and leaving him far short of the 218 typically needed to win the gavel.
In fact, McCarthy saw his tally slip to 201, as one fellow Republican switched to vote simply present.
Valadao Explains What’s Going On in the House
In a tweet on Wednesday, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) explained that no work can begin until a Speaker is chosen. He, like many others, pointed out that McCarthy is the overwhelming choice of Republicans for the post, but he is being blocked by 20 GOP members. Listen to his view of things below,
We can’t get to work for the American people until we elect a Speaker. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening in the House of Representatives right now: pic.twitter.com/H3y3UcNtlk
— Rep. David Valadao (@RepDavidValadao) January 4, 2023
Seeing no quick way out of the political standoff, Republicans voted abruptly late Wednesday to adjourn until 8 p.m. ET as they desperately searched for an endgame to the chaos of their own making.
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day,” said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., in nominating McCarthy on the sixth ballot.
She said, “To all Americans watching right now, We hear you. And we will get through this — no matter how messy.”
But the right-flank conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with Donald Trump, appeared emboldened by the standoff — though Trump publicly backed McCarthy,
“This is actually an invigorating day for America,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who was nominated three times by his conservative colleagues as an alternative. “There’s a lot of members in the chamber who want to have serious conversations about how we can bring this all to a close and elect a speaker.”
McCarthy, the California Republican, vowed to keep fighting despite the grueling spectacle, unlike any in modern times, that threw the new majority into tumult a day earlier. Animated private discussions broke out on the chamber floor between McCarthy supporters and detractors searching for an endgame.
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 democracy is messy, he said. “The American people are in charge.”
McCarthy himself entered the chamber saying, “We’ll have another vote.”
History Is Made: Two Black Nominees for Speaker
But the dynamic proved no different from Day One, as Democrats re-upped their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, for speaker, and a right-flank leader from the Freedom Caucus offered a challenge to McCarthy — nominating Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., in another history-making moment. Both Jeffries and Donalds are Black.
“This country needs leadership,” said Rep. Chip Roy, the Texas Republican noting the first time in history two Black Americans were nominated for the high office, and lawmakers from both parties rose to applaud.
The 20 GOP McCarthy opponents, all of whom voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Tuesday, switched their votes to Donalds on the fourth ballot Wednesday.
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.
List of Republicans Blocking McCarthy’s Speaker Bid
Here’s a list of GOP House members opposed to McCarthy as House leader:
Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.)
Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.)
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)
Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen (Okla.)
Rep. Michael Cloud (Texas)
Rep.-elect Eli Crane (Ariz.)
Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)
Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.)
Rep. Bob Good (Va.)
Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.)
Rep. Andy Harris (Md.)
Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.)
Rep. Mary Miller (Ill.)
Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.)
Rep.-elect Andy Ogles (Tenn.)
Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.)
Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.)
Rep. Chip Roy (Texas)
Rep.-elect Keith Self (Texas)
(GV Wire contributed to this report.)