McCarthy Again Three Time Loser on Second Day of Voting on New House Speaker
WASHINGTON — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ended Wednesday afternoon just as he ended his Tuesday — on the short ends of successive votes for the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
After all the votes were cast in the fourth, fifth and sixth round of balloting, McCarthy came away with 201 votes each time to New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ 212.
Meanwhile, Freedom Caucus nominee Rep.-elect Byron Donalds, R-Fla., received 20 votes, the McCarthy-dissenting block holding firm.
While the votes were similar to Tuesday’s results, one member who had previously voted for McCarthy, Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., voted “present” in all three rounds on Wednesday.
Spartz told CNN she did so because she wanted to allow for more negotiations within the conference to address the concerns of the 20 members.
The chamber voted to adjourn shortly after 4:30 p.m., agreeing to return at 8 p.m. for a possible seventh vote.
The adjournment came as Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and others in the anti-McCarthy camp suggested progress was being made in the ongoing conversations on the speaker’s race.
According to Roy, who spoke to reporters on the steps of the Capitol late Wednesday afternoon, the talks among Republicans had “been more productive in the last two hours” and that “progress has been made.”
“We’re having ongoing conversations, they’ve actually been more productive in the last two hours than they’ve been in a long time,” Roy said, though he noted McCarthy still didn’t have the votes he needs to finally prevail in the speaker’s race.
With McCarthy once again falling far short of the 218 votes ordinarily needed to win the speaker’s gavel, there appeared to be no end in sight to the chaos currently enveloping the House Republican Caucus and tempers began to flare.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., who rose to nominate McCarthy ahead of the second vote, accused Democrats of drinking on the House floor, prompting boos and catcalls across the chamber.
“They want us to fight each other. That much has been made clear by the popcorn and blankets and alcohol that has come in over there,” Cammack said.
Prior to House Clerk Cheryl Johnson gaveling the proceedings to order at noon, it was unclear whether any additional vote would be held on Wednesday.
A widely repeated rumor had McCarthy seeking an adjournment until Thursday so he could try to shore up support for his nomination.
Another scenario, this one stated by Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., during an interview with CNN, had McCarthy in preliminary talks today with Democrats about a deal to support a “consensus candidate” for speaker.
“There are preliminary talks, but we don’t want to go too fast on this because that then highjacks what Kevin is trying to do, and we want to support Kevin, he’s worked hard to get this,” Bacon said.
But during a morning press conference in the Capitol, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., the incoming chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said he hadn’t been approached by anyone about a search for a potential consensus candidate.
“If there was something that was real, we would look at that,” Aguilar said. “But I haven’t seen any proof that Republicans are willing to engage.
“Until then, this is on them,” Aguilar said.
Meanwhile, immediately after the fourth round of voting, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., chair of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted: “Kevin is now 0-4. His opposition has grown in just two days. It’s time for him to hang up the cleats and let the House move forward without him at the helm.”
He added, “Country is greater than ego.”