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Pressure Builds on McCarthy to Abandon Speaker Bid After Seventh Strikeout



Rep. John James, R-Mich., nominates Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for speaker on the third day of voting, in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
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One of McCarthy’s steadfast critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, even cast his vote for Donald Trump, a symbolic gesture, but one that highlighted the former president’s influence over the Republican Party.

McCarthy is under growing pressure from restless Republicans, and Democrats, to find the votes he needs or step aside, so the House can open fully and get on with the business of governing. His right-flank detractors appear intent on waiting him out, as long as it takes.

The final outcome on the seventh vote for Speaker mirrored those from Tuesday and Wednesday. McCarthy garnered 201 votes, with 20 Republicans voting for another candidate and one voting “present.”

The House must now go to a historic eighth vote for Speaker. Lawmakers are still in negotiations.

Concessions by McCarthy Fail to Break Stalemate

Despite endless talks, signs of concessions, and a public spectacle unlike any other in recent political memory, the path ahead remained highly uncertain. The day started as the other two have, with Republican allies nominating him for a seventh time to be Speaker.

Republican John James of Michigan put McCarthy’s name up for a vote, with a nod to history.

“My family’s gone from being slaves to the floor of the United States House of Representatives” in five generations, said James, a newly elected lawmaker to be, who is Black.

He said that while the House Republicans were “stuck” at the moment, McCarthy, who has failed to seize a majority to become speaker, would ultimately win.

Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York was re-nominated by Democrats.

Republican party holdouts again put forward the name of fellow Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, assuring the stalemate that increasingly carried undercurrents of race and politics would continue.

Donalds, who is Black, is seen as a future party leader and counterpoint to the Democratic leader, Jeffries, who is the first Black leader of a major political party in the U.S. Congress, is on track himself to become Speaker someday.

“We could have elected the first Black speaker of the United States House,” said conservative Republican Dan Bishop of North Carolina who re-nominated Donalds on Thursday.

Democrats jumped to their feet in applause, as Jeffries is, in fact, closest to the gavel with the most votes on every ballot so far.

What started as a political novelty, the first time in 100 years a nominee had not won the gavel on the first vote, has devolved into a bitter Republican Party feud and deepening potential crisis.

Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., pats Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the back after she nominated him as speaker for the sixth round of voting, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The House at a Standstill

The House, which is one-half of Congress, is essentially at a standstill as McCarthy has failed, one vote after another, to win the speaker’s gavel in a grueling spectacle for all the world to see. The ballots have produced 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.

As the House resumed at noon Thursday it could be a long day. The new Republican majority was not expected to be in session on Friday, which is the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. A prolonged and divisive speaker’s fight would almost certainly underscore the fragility of American democracy after the attempted insurrection two years ago.

“All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body,” California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker, said in a tweet.

Pelosi also said the Republicans’ “cavalier attitude in electing a Speaker is frivolous, disrespectful and unworthy of this institution. We must open the House and proceed with the People’s work.”

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.)


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