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House speaker race upended as GOP infighting sinks McCarthy on first two ballots: live updates – B87FM
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House speaker race upended as GOP infighting sinks McCarthy on first two ballots: live updates

Written by on January 3, 2023

WASHINGTON—The vote for a new House speaker was expected to go to a fourth round Tuesday, the first time in a century the usually pro-forma process has taken more than one vote, as a GOP majority in turmoil rejected House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on three ballots.

McCarthy secured only 203 votes in the first round, far less than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post; 19 other Republicans voted for other candidates; McCarthy even trailed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who had the support of all 212 Democrats.

The last time the vote for a new speaker went past the first ballot was 100 years ago, in 1923. The loss underscores how Republican infighting between moderates and hardliners will complicate the GOP’s majority in the House of Representatives.

Nor is that the only source of conflict in the new Congress, with GOP Rep.-elect George Santos of New York under investigation on multiple fronts after admitting to lies about everything from his education to his ancestry to his professional background. 

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Latest developments: 

  • Hardline Republicans blocked House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy from ascending to the speakership, the first time in a century that the election of a speaker went to a second ballot.
  • McCarthy secured only 203 votes on the first ballot, fewer than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post. Nineteen Republicans voted for other candidates. Even Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (212) got more votes than McCarthy.
  • There’s no guarantee a second ballot will result in a new leader. Far-right Republicans have dug in their heels against McCarthy, whom they view as too moderate and willing to work with Democrats.

On tap for week one:The new Congress will pick a speaker, potentially launch investigations and more

What happens next?  

The third time was not a charm for McCarthy. The California representative did not pass the threshold of votes needed to serve as the next speaker in a third ballot for the gavel.

Here’s what could happen next:  

  • Members will continue to vote— again and again. There could be a move to adjourn the lower chamber and bring lawmakers back to the floor to vote tomorrow. The vote could last for days, weeks or months until a speaker candidate receives enough votes. This leaves the House paralyzed with no member sworn in, no rules adopted and no legislative business conducted.  
  • McCarthy could drop out of the race for speaker, leaving an opening for another Republican to win the speakership. As of Tuesday afternoon, no McCarthy challengers have come close to gaining enough votes to win the speakership. During the three ballots, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, former New York Rep. Lee Zeldin and New York Rep. Byron Donalds received votes.
  • As a last resort, lawmakers could adopt a resolution that would elect a speaker by a plurality or by rank-choice voting instead of a simple majority.   

— Rachel Looker 

Picking a new House speaker:What happens after McCarthy loses speaker vote? Here’s how the process works.

Dems point to history, unity in votes for Jeffries

In the three rounds of speaker votes for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, several Democratic members cited the historic moment and the minority party’s strong showing of unity.

All 212 Democratic members voted for Jeffries each round, as he secured the most votes in the chamber. However, he will not be speaker because his party is in the minority by four votes.

But in each symbolic vote, many Democrats – especially lawmakers of color – pointed to how the first Black House Democratic leader had the most votes in the chamber and broke barriers to rise to his position. They also remembered the Black political and cultural leaders who paved the road before him, such as late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Martin Luther King Jr.

In his vote for Jeffries in the third round, former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was voting for Jeffries from “a united party for a united America.”

— Candy Woodall

Roy nominates Jordan for the third ballot

Texas Rep. Chip Roy nominated Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan again for what is now the House’s third ballot for speaker of the House.

“The fact is this place has to change.” said Chip Roy, calling for either changes in House rules or leadership. “I want the tools or I want the leadership to stop the swamp from running over the average American every single day.” 

— Ken Tran

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) delivers remarks as the House of Representatives holds their vote for speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress on January 3, 2023.

Aguilar nominates Jeffries again

Rep. Pete Aguilar nominated House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for a third time, as the Republican majority struggled to elect a speaker.

Aguilar and other Democrats have noted today that their party is unified behind their candidate, even chanting Jeffries’ name after the most recent nomination.

— Candy Woodall

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, R-N.Y., reacts after being nominated for a third round of votes for Speaker of the House in the House chamber on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.

Scalise nominates McCarthy

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was nominated by his top deputy Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., after losing on two previous ballots.

Scalise’s nomination kicks off a third round of voting as 19 Republicans have voted against their party’s House leader.

“We all came here to get things done,” Scalise said, emphasizing to rounds of applause that Republicans need to take action on the southern border, inflation and the ongoing opioid crisis. “Let’s rise to this challenge…and let’s start by electing Kevin McCarthy as speaker.”

— Candy Woodall

What happens now?:Now that McCarthy has lost two votes for speaker, here’s how the House could proceed

McCarthy’s failure by the numbers, part two

It’s official for a second time: McCarthy didn’t make it to the House speakership on a second ballot that produced similar numbers as the first but also generated a conservative Republican alternative.

The 19 Republicans who voted against McCarthy on the first ballot, and backed  a variety of other candidates, all supported Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on the second round of voting – never mind that Jordan had given the nominating speech for McCarthy.

Jordan has said he is not interested in being speaker, but allies are trying to change his mind – though no one knows if he could command the necessary Republican majority.

McCarthy again claimed only 203 votes in the second ballot, below the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post, according to the final tally of the House clerk. He was unable to increase his total on the second ballot.

And, once again, McCarthy trailed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who had the support of 212 Democrats.

– David Jackson

Who is Hakeem Jeffries? 

Nancy Pelosi, the longtime California representative who has served as speaker of the House since 2019, stepped d last year, clearing the way for a new figure to take the lead.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a lawmaker from New York who has served in the chamber since 2013, was elected to lead House Democrats.

In inheriting the seat of Democratic leadership, Jeffries makes history, becoming the first ever person of color to do so.

— Anna Kaufman

Who is Hakeem Jeffries?:What to know about the Brooklyn Rep. poised to replace Pelosi

Incoming House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the floor at the start of The 118th session of Congress begins on Jan. 3, 2023.

Who is Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio?

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan appears to have unified McCarthy’s opposition with all 19 Republicans voting for him – despite Jordan himself nominating and voting for McCarthy to become speaker.

Jordan, who has served in the House since 2007, was once political rivals with McCarthy, having run against him for House minority leader when Democrats took the House in 2018. Jordan has now positioned himself as one of McCarthy’s closest allies, having nominated him on the second ballot for speaker.

As it stands, Jordan is set to chair the House Judiciary Committee, one of the chamber’s most powerful investigative committees. But with the speaker’s vote up in the air, it’s unclear what will happen. 

— Ken Tran

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (center middle row) takes a seat after he nominates Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as House speaker prior to a second round of voting.

McCarthy appears to lose round two

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared to lose the second round of voting again by 19 votes from within his Republican Party.

All of the members who voted for five candidates against McCarthy on the first ballot this time coalesced around Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Jordan nominated McCarthy for speaker on the second ballot and voted for him.

The official vote was still being tallied as of 3:20 p.m.

— Candy Woodall

House tally sheet tabulating votes for the second ballot for House speaker.

Who are the Republicans who voted against McCarthy in round one?

On the first ballot for speaker, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy: 10 voted for Biggs, 6 for Jordan, 1 for Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, 1 for former New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, and 1 for New York Rep. Byron Donalds.

The 19 Republicans are:

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona 

Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado

Rep.-elect Josh Breechen of Oklahoma

Rep. Michael Cloud of Texas

Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia 

Rep.-elect Eli Crane of Arizona

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida

Rep. Bob Good of Virginia

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona

Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland

Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna of Florida

Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina

Rep.-elect Andy Ogles of Tennessee

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania

Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, 

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas

Rep.-elect Keith Self of Texas

— Ken Tran

Gaetz nominates Jordan

Shortly after Rep. Jim Jordan nominated fellow Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker, Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan.

Gaetz, R-Florida, voted for Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs on the first ballot.

Jordan has said he doesn’t want to be speaker and minutes ago said McCarthy was the best person for the job.

“Sometimes we have to do jobs we don’t really want to do,” Gaetz said. “Jim Jordan is the right person for speaker of the House because he is not beholden to the lobbyists and special interests.”

— Candy Woodall

McCarthy nominated for speaker, again

Once political rivals, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, nominated McCarthy to the speakership as the House heads to a second ballot to vote for the next speaker.

Jordan urged House Republicans to unite behind McCarthy, saying that the differences within the conference “pale in comparison to the differences between us and the left, which now unfortunately controls the other party.” 

— Ken Tran

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens as votes are cast for next Speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.

McCarthy’s failure by the numbers

It’s official: McCarthy did not make it to the speakership on the first ballot.

McCarthy secured only 203 votes, less than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post, according to the House clerk; 19 other Republicans voted for other candidates.

McCarthy even trailed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who had the support of  212 Democrats.

A second ballot is coming up.

– David Jackson

Explainer:What happens after McCarthy lost the first vote for speaker? Here’s how the process works.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) talks with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), front, after McCarthy failed to secure the necessary Republican votes to become House speaker in the first round of voting.

Hakeem Jeffries got the most votes but it’s not enough: Here’s why

Jeffries ended up getting the most votes on the first ballot for speaker at 212 votes, earning the support of all of his Democratic colleagues in stark contrast to McCarthy, who had 19 Republicans vote against him – McCarthy earned 203 votes.

But to become speaker, a nominee has to earn a majority of the total votes cast. With 434 members voting, that means any nominee will have to reach 218 votes to wield the speaker’s gavel.

The House could opt to vote in a speaker by plurality, but it is extremely unlikely as it could pose the risk of Jeffries becoming speaker with a Republican majority. 

— Ken Tran

McCarthy falls short on first ballot

Kevin McCarthy appeared fell short of the majority he needed to become speaker of the House on the first ballot.

The new Republican-led House will need to hold one more ballot – at least.

The speaker vote could now drag out for hours or days.

– David Jackson

McCarthy’s opposition nominates Biggs for speaker

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., nominated fellow Arizonan Rep. Andy Biggs for speaker of the House in McCarthy’s first official challenge for the speakership.

“America knows that Washington is broken,” said Gosar to applause from only McCarthy’s opposition.

Biggs is not expected to be a leading contender for the speakership, but rather, a placeholder from McCarthy’s opposition. 

– Ken Tran

Aguilar nominates Jeffries for speaker to raucous applause

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., nominated House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the House to raucous applause from Democrats.

“Today Madam Clerk, House Democrats are united,” Aguilar said, in a show of contrast to McCarthy’s challenges in his bid for speaker. “We are unified behind a speaker who is an unapologetic advocate for protecting and expanding our freedoms.”

“Let’s go Hakeem!” one Democrat cheered. 

— Ken Tran

Earlier:Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic leader, making history as first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress

Stefanik nominates McCarthy as speaker

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., nominated House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as speaker shortly after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, marking the beginning of a long vote among the 434 House members at the Capitol today.

She worked to make the case McCarthy is an experienced leader, a true conservative and that “nobody has worked harder” to put Republicans in the majority.

Stefanik said McCarthy has done well to build consensus – even as he has struggled the last two months to galvanize unequivocal support in his bid to be speaker.

— Candy Woodall

House session starts as speaker vote nears

The afternoon began with the traditional fixtures of a new session of Congress: about three dozen children and babies watching history unfold as family members prepare to be sworn in, cheers and jubilation as one party retires from the House majority and another takes over, and curious onlookers in the gallery waiting to see what happens next.

Rep. Greg Pence, a Catholic Republican from Indiana and brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, held his grandson during the opening prayer, making the sign of the cross on his forehead. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida sat with other “never Kevin” voters who oppose GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received thunderous applause as she gaveled out for the last time.

The otherwise peaceful and ceremonial beginning is expected to take a sharp turn when a contentious speaker vote begins, launching a historic decision in Congress that could take several ballots, hours and days to determine the next House speaker.

— Candy Woodall

Previously:Who are the Republicans balking at Kevin McCarthy as a House speaker?

Members of the 118th Congress stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. Today members of the 118th Congress will be sworn-in and the House of Representatives will elect a new Speaker of the House.

Republicans officially take House majority

The House has now gaveled in and Republicans have officially taken up the majority.

First orders of business: Taking roll of the new members and then voting on a new speaker – and it’s uncertain who it will be.

– Ken Tran

McCarthy: ‘I’m not going anywhere;’ willing to hang in for multiple ballots

One thing McCarthy did not do during his brief remarks to reporters Tuesday: He did not withdraw from the speaker’s race.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said McCarthy, who did pull out from a speaker’s race in 2015 when it appeared he lacked the votes to prevail.

This time around, McCarthy said he is prepared to go through several ballots if necessary, saying opponents should not be rewarded for making unreasonable demands.

Some opponents are working “for themselves,” and not for “the country,” he added.

– David Jackson

House speaker vote to begin soon

Voting is slated to begin shortly after noon as House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy tries to outlast his detractors in his bid for speaker, a position he has wanted for years.

It’s a role he didn’t have enough votes to win a half hour before the new Congress was scheduled to be gaveled in by the House clerk.

McCarthy said he will not bow out, signaling there could be multiple ballot votes for the first time in 100 years and it could take many hours — or even days — before a new speaker is elected.

— Candy Woodall

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters following a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Republican lawmaker announces vote against McCarthy

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop publicly shared in a statement that he “will not be supporting the status quo,” in another setback to McCarthy’s chances at securing the speakership.

“Kevin McCarthy is not the right candidate to be Speaker,” Bishop said in a statement on Twitter. “He has perpetuated the Washington status quo that makes this body one of the most unsuccessful and unpopular institutions in the country.”

— Ken Tran

Beyond the speaker vote:What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos, who lied ahead of winning his election?

McCarthy: Gaetz, other critics are willing to let Hakeem Jeffries become speaker

Saying his opponents have no plan of their own, McCarthy said some Republican critics are even willing to let House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries become speaker of a House with a GOP majority.

McCarthy singled out one of his most vocal critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

“Matt Gaetz said, ‘I don’t care if we go to plurality and we elect Hakeem Jeffries,'” McCarthy said.

– David Jackson

Previously:Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic leader, making history as first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress

GOP power struggle before vote

The power struggle within the fractured House Republican caucus reached a pinnacle an hour before a contentious vote for speaker.

Allies of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California raised their voices in the basement halls of the Capitol, calling out his detractors as selfish politicians who are acting in their own interest and not that of the country.

More than a dozen conservative members who oppose McCarthy left a Tuesday morning meeting saying nothing has changed, despite the House GOP leader’s multiple attempts in two months to cajole his right flank into supporting him.

— Candy Woodall

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: ‘I am furious’

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., one of the House GOP conference’s most conservative members and a McCarthy supporter, told reporters Tuesday she is “furious” about Republican opposition to McCarthy’s bid for speaker.

Greene said on Monday night that three members of the House Freedom Caucus were “demanding positions for themselves, demanding gavel positions, demanding subcommittees, demanding for people to be taken off committees and people to be put on committees.”

The Georgia Republican has positioned herself as a McCarthy ally and has been attempting to serve as a bridge between the conference’s most conservative and more moderate lawmakers. 

— Ken Tran

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Explained:What happens if McCarthy can’t get votes needed for speaker? Here’s how the election works

Gaetz: McCarthy is the “biggest alligator” in “the swamp” 

As the vote approaches, it doesn’t sound like Kevin McCarthy’s opponents are backing down – and they still have the votes to block his election as Speaker.

Rep, Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other opponents told a brief news conference that McCarthy is refusing to pursue fundamental change, and Gaetz sought to illustrate his point with an aquatic metaphor.

“If you want to drain the swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,” Gaetz said. “I am a Florida man, and I know of what I speak.”

– David Jackson

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks as he arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos?

George Santos will likely be sworn in as a freshman congressman from New York on Tuesday, but there are questions about how long and whether he should remain in office.

The newly elected Republican admitted last week to lying to voters about his resume, including his personal and professional experiences, and said he still intends to take office in the new 118th Congress. 

Nick LaLota, a fellow newly elected House Republican from New York, said in a statement last week, “a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required. New Yorkers deserve the truth, and House Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern without this distraction.”

Read the rest here:What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos, who lied ahead of winning his election?

— Candy Woodall

House member: ‘Nothing’s changed’

Rep. Bob Good of Virginia left a Republican caucus meeting and told reporters, “Nothing’s changed.” Good is one of a group of “Never Kevin” Republicans who have vowed not to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker.

The opposition from that group has complicated what is normally a smooth and quick process. Good’s pronouncement came less than 90 minutes before the official start of the new Congress.

— Candy Woodall

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

McCarthy opponents not blinking as Speaker vote nears

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., tweeted a statement saying McCarthy has worked too often against conservative goals, from a balanced budget to a stringent border plan (items that McCarthy supporters say are impossible because of Democratic numbers in Congress).

“Kevin McCarthy had an opportunity to be Speaker of the House,” Perry said. “He rejected it.”

Over the weekend, Perry promoted a letter of criticism of McCarthy signed by nine House Republicans – more than enough to deprive him of the majority the would-be speaker needs to prevail and possibly leading to a days-long struggle for GOP leadership.

David Jackson

Meanwhile: Mitch McConnell becomes longest-serving Senate leader in history

While McCarthy struggles to become House Speaker, Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell enjoys smooth sailing into history this week – he becomes the longest serving party leader in Senate history.

McConnell surpasses Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Montana, who served as Democratic leader from 1961 to 1977.

One downside for McConnell: He is still minority leader because the Republicans failed to win a Senate majority in last year’s elections.

Former President Donald Trump and other conservatives – including outspoken opponents of McCarthy – had wanted to depose McConnell, but he easily beat back a challenge from Florida senator Rick Scott.

Also: McConnell has an interesting way to mark his record-setting week: He will spend time Wednesday with President Joe Biden, who is traveling to Kentucky for an infrastructure event.

– David Jackson

Who controls what in the 118th Congress?

Republicans secured control of the House following the 2022 midterms by winning 222 seats. Democrats won 212 seats. There is one vacancy due to the recent death of Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin. 

In the Senate, Democrats have a narrower lead with 48 Democrats, 49 Republicans and three independents – two of whom/align themselves with Democrats, giving the party 50 Senate votes. 

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who announced last month she will be leaving the Democratic party and registering as an independent, said she will not caucus with Republicans but has not indicated if she will join her independent colleagues. 

Democrats will still be able to break 50-50 ties with Vice President Kamala Harris, who can cast deciding votes in her role as Senate president.

– Rachel Looker

A new committee focused on China

Among priorities in the new Congress: China.

Earlier in December, McCarthy announced that Republicans will be establishing a new select committee on China with Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, a former Marine and intelligence officer, at the helm as chairman.

“The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest geopolitical threat of our lifetime.” McCarthy said in a statement.

Growing competition with China has drawn bipartisan interest from Democrats and Republicans, and Gallagher has a history of working with Democrats on policy aimed at increasing competitiveness with China.

— Ken Tran

What’s happening with committees? 

Back in control of House committees, Republicans have already announced several matters they plan to investigate, including Hunter Biden and COVID-19 spending. House speaker hopeful Rep. Kevin McCarthy has also vowed to use the position to keep certain Democrats off of committees

Senate Democrats gained more power in committees with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in Georgia last December. They have a chance to keep this edge despite Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s split from the party shortly after, as the Arizona Senator said at that time she plans to caucus with Democrats and maintain her committee positions.

– Savannah Kuchar


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