House Adjourns After McCarthy Falls Short in Three Votes for Speaker

January 3, 2023 by Dan McCue
House Adjourns After McCarthy Falls Short in Three Votes for Speaker
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens as the second round of votes are cast for the next Speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — The House adjourned on Tuesday evening after Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., failed in three back-to-back votes to secure enough support to be elected House speaker.

The votes left the House GOP in an apparent state of chaos. Until a speaker is elected, the rest of the chamber’s members-elect cannot be sworn in, because by rules set down by the founding fathers, their oath of office is administered by the speaker.

Voting will presumably resume Wednesday when the chamber reconvenes at noon.

In the meantime, every Democrat on the floor has unanimously voted for incoming Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to be speaker (an outcome that’s astronomically unlikely), while conservatives led by the House Freedom Caucus have thrown their support behind Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has repeatedly said he doesn’t want the job and is backing McCarthy.

McCarthy knew Tuesday would be an uphill battle and said as much as he left a closed-door meeting with his caucus this morning.

“That’s fine with me,” he said, telling reporters gathered in a Capitol hallway that he holds the distinction of having delivered the longest ever speech on the floor and “I don’t have a problem getting a record for the most votes for speaker too.”

By the end of the three votes, however, even McCarthy seemed to be weary of the spectacle.

Worst of all, by the end of the day, he appeared to actually be losing ground as Republican defectors from his cause rose from 19 to 20 with the last vote.

Following that vote, Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds, who had become the 20th defector, suggested taking a break from voting.

“The reality is Rep. Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have the votes,” Donalds wrote on Twitter. “I committed my support to him publicly and for two votes on the House floor. 218 is the number, and currently, no one is there.

“Our conference needs to recess and huddle and find someone or work out the next steps, but these continuous votes aren’t working for anyone,” he continued. “When the dust settles, we will have a Republican speaker, now is the time for our conference to debate and come to a consensus.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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