By LISA MASCARO and FARNUSH AMIRI (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans struggled through a long second day of unsuccessful voting Wednesday and failed to elect their leader Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker or develop a new strategy to end the political chaos that marked the start of their new majority has tarnished .
But McCarthy didn’t give up even after the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots failed and he tried to cancel a late-night session. Even that was contentious, as the House voted 216 to 214 – amid shouts and scrums – for an adjournment for the night.
“No deal yet,” McCarthy said earlier, as he exited a long, closed-door dinner with key holdouts and his own allies. “But a lot of progress.”
On the day of the vote after the vote, when Republicans tried to put McCarthy in the top spot, there was no sign of any progress at all. The ballots came up almost the same result, 20 conservative holdouts still refused to back him, leaving him well short of the 218 normally needed to win the hammer.
In fact, McCarthy saw his support slip to 201 when a fellow Republican switched to mere presence.
Seeing no quick way out of the political stalemate, Republicans voted abruptly for a couple of hours late in the day while desperately searching for an endgame to the chaos of their own making. They were supposed to be back in the evening, but McCarthy wanted to take a break until Thursday.
“I think people need to work a little bit more,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think a vote tonight would make a difference. But a vote in the future might.”
But even a simple motion for an adjournment erupted into a ground fight, with Democrats and some Republicans insisting on a protracted vote.
McCarthy, the California Republican, vowed to fight to the end for the speaker’s post despite the unnerving spectacle that roiled the new majority in the early days of the new Congress. Lively private discussions erupted on the Chamber floor and in huddles throughout the Capitol between McCarthy supporters and critics looking for an offramp.
“Well, it’s groundhog day,” said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., of McCarthy’s sixth-round nomination.
She said: “To all the Americans watching right now, we hear you. And we will get through this – no matter how messy it is.”
But right flank conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus and allied with Donald Trump, appeared emboldened by the standoff — despite Trump publicly backing McCarthy,
“This is truly an invigorating day for America,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who has been nominated three times as an alternative by his Conservative peers. “There are many members in the Chamber who want to have serious discussions about how we can wrap this all up and elect a speaker.”
The House relented at noon, but no other work could be done — swearing in new members, forming committees, tackling legislation, investigating the Biden administration — until the speaker was elected.
“I still have the most votes,” McCarthy said at the start of the session. “At the end of the day we will be able to get there.”
But the momentum proved no different than Day One, when Democrats reinstated their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, as speaker and Donalds McCarthy offered his challenge in another historic moment. Both Jeffries and Donalds are black.
“This country needs leadership,” said Rep. Chip Roy, the Texas Republican, who noted that for the first time in history two black Americans were nominated for high office and lawmakers from both parties applauded.
It was the first time in 100 years that a candidate for the House of Representatives failed to take the gavel on the first ballot, but McCarthy seemed unfazed. Instead, he vowed to fight to the end.
The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to trouble as Republicans now have control of the House of Representatives.
President Joe Biden, who left the White House for a bipartisan event in Kentucky with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said “the rest of the world is watching” the scene at the House.
“I just find it really embarrassing that it’s taking so long,” Biden said. “I have no idea” who will prevail.
Tensions flared among the majority of the new House of Representatives as their campaign promises faltered. The election of a Speaker has not taken place in multiple ballots since 1923, and the longest and most grueling battle for the gavel began in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots cast during the debates on slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.
A new generation of conservative Republicans, many of whom support Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda, are looking to turn business as usual on its head in Washington and have pledged to halt McCarthy’s rise without compromising on their priorities.
But even Trump’s strongest supporters were divided on this issue. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a staunch Colorado conservative who nominated Donalds for the second time, urged the former president to tell McCarthy, “Sir, you don’t have the votes and it’s time to retire.”
Earlier Wednesday, Trump had done the opposite and urged Republicans to vote for McCarthy. “Close the deal, get the win,” he wrote in all caps on his social media page. “Don’t turn a great triumph into a huge and embarrassing defeat.”
As the election spectacle dragged on, McCarthy’s supporters begged those who stood out to stand for the California Republican.
“I think members on both sides are getting a lot of pressure now,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “So I think the message from home is, ‘Hey, get that stuff straightened out, we don’t have time for trifles and egos.'”
The McCarthy stalemate has been building since Republicans won the House majority in the midterm elections. While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, House Republicans are eager to confront Biden after two years of Democrat control of both houses of Congress. The conservative Freedom Caucus led opposition to McCarthy, believing he was neither conservative nor tough enough to fight the Democrats.
To gain support, McCarthy has already agreed to many of the demands of the Freedom Caucus, which advocates rule changes and other concessions that give ordinary members more leverage in the legislative process. He has been here before, having retired from the speaker race in 2015 when he failed to convince Conservatives.
“Everything is on the table,” said Confederate Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C. – except, he said, to have McCarthy step aside. “Not at all. It’s not on the table.”
Democrats enthusiastically nominated Jeffries, who will take over as party leader, as their choice for speaker. He won the most votes overall, 212.
If McCarthy could win 213 votes and then convince the remaining naysayers to simply vote present, he would be able to lower the majority threshold required by the rules.
It’s a strategy that previous House Speakers, including outgoing Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Speaker John Boehner, employed when they faced the opposition and won the gavel by fewer than 218 votes.
One Republican, Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, voted for attendance in multiple rounds, but it made no difference in the immediate result.
AP writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Kevin Freking contributed to the coverage.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/04/gops-mccarthy-voted-down-time-after-time-for-house-speaker-2/ GOP’s McCarthy kept voting for Speaker of the House – Orange County Register