By LISA MASCARO, FARNOUSH AMIRI and KEVIN FREKING (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy again failed to win the House speaker in a dramatic fourth-round vote on Wednesday as the chamber plunged into the second day of the new Congress with no end to the political chaos in sight is that the GOP conservatives created.
McCarthy fared no better than on opening day, when 20 conservative holdouts cast their votes to reject him. His mind didn’t seem to have changed, and he fell well short of the 218 votes normally required to win the gavel.
The California Republican vowed to keep fighting despite losing in multiple rounds of voting that roiled the new majority a day earlier.
The House of Representatives voted noon, and a McCarthy ally quickly nominated him for the job with a rousing speech designed to deter critics.
“Sure, it looks messy,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. But democracy is messy, he said. “The American people call the shots.”
McCarthy himself entered the room and said: “We will vote again.”
But the momentum proved no different than Day One, when Democrats restored their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, to speak, and a right flank leader of the Freedom Caucus offered McCarthy a challenge — the nomination of Rep. Byron Donalds , R- Fla., 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, encouraged, he said, by former President Donald Trump to end disorder and bring the Republican Party together.
Early Wednesday, Trump publicly urged Republicans to vote for McCarthy: “CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,” he wrote on his social media page. He added: “REPUBLICANS, DON’T TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A HUGE & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”
The House of Representatives tried again Wednesday after Tuesday’s standoff essentially halted all other business, waiting for Republicans to elect a speaker.
“Today, is this the day I wanted it to be? No,” McCarthy told reporters late Tuesday at the Capitol after a series of closed-door meetings. When asked if he would step out, McCarthy said, “That’s not going to happen.”
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.
The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to trouble as Republicans now have control of the House of Representatives.
Tensions flared among the majority of the new House of Representatives as their campaign promises faltered. Without a speaker, the House of Representatives cannot fully form — it can swear in its members, appoint its committee chairs, participate in ground trials, and initiate investigations into the Biden administration. Lawmakers’ families had been waiting as a normally festive day descended into chaos, with children playing in the aisles or squirming in parents’ arms.
But it wasn’t clear at all how the embattled GOP leader could bounce back to win over right flank conservatives who reject his leadership. Normally, it takes a House majority to become Speaker, 218 votes — although the threshold can drop if members are absent or just voting, 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.
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.
“Kevin McCarthy will not be a speaker,” stated Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., one of the holdouts.
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.
In many ways, the far right’s challenge was reminiscent of the last time Republicans seized power in the House, when Tea Party Republicans brought hardball politics and crippled the government after winning control in the 2010 midterm elections .
As the election spectacle dragged on, McCarthy’s supporters begged those who stood out to stand for the California Republican.
“We all came here to get things done,” second-ranking Republican Rep. Steve Scalise said in a speech nominating McCarthy for the vote and urging his peers to drop their protest.
Scalise, itself a potential GOP compromise election, railed against Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda, saying, “We cannot begin to resolve these issues until we have elected Kevin McCarthy as our next speaker.”
But the holdouts forced a third and final round of voting before Republican leaders quickly adjourned Tuesday night.
“The American people are watching, and that’s a good thing,” said R-Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who nominated Ohio Conservative Rep. Jim Jordan as the alternate speaker.
Jordan, the McCarthy rival-turned-ally, has twice been pushed forward by Conservatives but he doesn’t appear to want the job. The Ohio Republican is set to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and he rose during the debate to urge his peers to vote for McCarthy instead.
“We need to gather around him, come together,” Jordan said.
Overall, a core group of 19 Republicans — and then 20 — voted for someone other than McCarthy. The first ballot sent votes to Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, Jordan and others, while Jordan alone won the votes in the next two ballots.
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 garner support, McCarthy has already agreed to many of the demands of the Freedom Caucus, which advocates rule changes and other concessions that give the grassroots 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.
Pizza, Chick-fil-A and tacos were carried to various meeting rooms in the Capitol late Tuesday after the failed votes as McCarthy supporters and critics huddled to figure out how to choose a speaker.
“Everything is on the table,” said McCarthy ally Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C. – except, he said, to have the leader step aside. “Not at all. It’s not on the table.”
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a leader in Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election, had previously said it was up to McCarthy to meet her demands and change the momentum.
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.
McCarthy said at the Capitol late Tuesday, “You get 213 votes, and the others don’t say another name, so you can win.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/04/mccarthy-failing-anew-in-bid-for-speaker-gop-in-disarray-2/ McCarthy fails again in bid for speaker, GOP in disarray – Orange County Register