Live updates: Republicans regroup to elect a speaker of the House. Will Kevin McCarthy prevail?
Written by B87FM on January 4, 2023
WASHINGTON – Republicans are returning to the Capitol Wednesday to do what they couldn’t do Tuesday: elect a new speaker of the House.
GOP leader Kevin McCarthy failed to secure enough votes from his political party to win the gavel, denied the 218 votes he needed by a cadre of Republican hard-liners in three separate ballots. It was the first time in a century that a speaker was not elected on the first round.
A group of up to 20 conservatives is determined to oppose McCarthy, and the end game remains unclear. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has emerged as a GOP rival, having drawn the complete support of the anti-McCarthy caucus. But he says he doesn’t want the job and continues to support McCarthy.
Here’s the latest:
What changed overnight?
Rep. Kevin McCarthy is shifting his strategy to become speaker of the House – or at least he’s shifting the way he’s talking about it.
When a confident, almost defiant, McCarthy spoke during and after a Republican conference meeting Tuesday morning, he had said he wasn’t making any more concessions to appease the most conservative flank of his party and that he had “earned” the speakership.
By Tuesday night at the Capitol, after he had lost three votes to become speaker, he said he wanted all views to be represented on House committees and that negotiations were ongoing between his more than 200 supporters and 20 detractors.
McCarthy also said he had a new path to the speakership. Rather than focusing on the 218 votes needed to win the speakership outright, he mentioned 11 votes last night he needs to flip. A lot of that strategy involves getting some of his 20 dissenters to vote “present” rather than for a named candidate, which would allow him to win the speakership with a lower majority of votes.
What to expect today
The House formally gavels in at noon, but both Republicans and Democrats will be meeting throughout the morning.
On the Republican side, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and his allies are working on two fronts: they are trying to negotiate with his detractors to sway their votes to his side and they’re also trying to get some members to vote “present” rather than for a named candidate. Voting present would ultimately help McCarthy boost his numbers and lower the threshold for which he needs to become speaker.
On the Democratic side, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu will hold a press conference at 10:45 a.m. after their closed caucus meeting that starts at 9 a.m. Look for Democrats to take questions on whether they will help Republicans by having some members absent from the chamber today, lowering the overall voting majority and number McCarthy would need to clinch the speakership.
Last night, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said his caucus is focused on having a working partnership with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation, but they’re not responsible for helping the GOP get organized.
Once the House gavels in at noon, members-elect could choose to vote again for speaker or adjourn again to allow for more negotiations.
Trump calls for members to vote for McCarthy
In a new Truth Social post Wednesday morning, Former President Donald Trump called on Republican House members to support Kevin McCarthy.
“Vote for Kevin, close the deal, take the victory,” Trump said in all caps.
He urged Republicans: “Do not turn a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat.”
Trump said it’s time to celebrate, seemingly referring to the GOP’s four-vote majority in the House.
“Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a great job – just watch!” he said in closing.
McCarthy’s most fervent opponents are some of Trump’s biggest supporters. It remains to be seen if they will be swayed by his endorsement Wednesday morning.
What could happen next?
Members will continue to vote — again and again potentially when they come back at noon. The vote could last for days, weeks or months until a speaker candidate receives enough votes. This leaves the House paralyzed since no member can be sworn in, no rules can be adopted and no legislative business can be conducted until a speaker is chosen
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