McCarthy Vows to fight on as Mayhem Proceeds the Second Day of Voting
After suffering a series of setbacks on Tuesday, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy remains steadfast in his quest to become House Speaker even as the battle continues into a second hectic day. Could we hear a Republican nominate Donald Trump for speaker on Wednesday?
After California Representative Kevin McCarthy lost three votes for the top post amid a hard-right mutiny that caused a historic fight on the House floor, Republicans started their second day in control of the House on Wednesday without a leader and split over how to go ahead.
After Mr. McCarthy's repeated losses on Tuesday, the House failed to pick a speaker on the first roll call vote for the first time in a century, and it was unclear how or when the impasse would be broken. The House had adjourned without a leader and was scheduled to meet again at midday on Wednesday to attempt to find one.
On the first day of Republican rule, a mutiny led by ultraconservative lawmakers who have steadfastly pledged to oppose Mr. McCarthy for weeks paralyzed the chamber, delaying the swearing in of hundreds of members of Congress, postponing any legislative work, and exposing deep divisions that threatened to make the party's House majority ungovernable.
Mr. McCarthy has promised to keep fighting until he wins, which means the election process might go on for days.
During the break between Tuesday's second and third votes, Mr. McCarthy said to the press, "I'm here till we win." I am used to traveling that route.
The precedent in the House indicates that members should continue voting until someone wins the necessary majority to succeed. However, up until this past Tuesday, the House of Representatives had not failed to elect a speaker on the first attempt at a roll call vote since 1923, which was the last time the election went on for nine ballots.
It was not apparent how long it might take for the Republicans to overcome their standoff this time, nor was it clear what Mr. McCarthy's plan, if he had one, was for bouncing back from a humiliating sequence of setbacks. On Tuesday night, he labored through the night, accompanied by his friends, to obtain votes.
There is now no one who may pose a serious threat to Mr. McCarthy's position, but if he continues to struggle, Republicans may switch their support to another candidate, such as Mr. McCarthy's No. 2 candidate, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Right-wing Republicans came together on Tuesday to support Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, as an alternative to Mr. McCarthy. However, Mr. Jordan, a former adversary who has since allied himself with Mr. McCarthy, pleaded with his colleagues to instead unite behind the Republican from California.
However, the requested action has not been taken by the party.
The Republicans who voted against McCarthy's bid to become House Speaker on Tuesday include some of the most conservative members of that chamber; the majority are either members of the Freedom Caucus or voted against recognizing the results of the 2020 election. A more in-depth examination of the 20 legislators is provided here.
According to a study by the New York Times, over half of the MPs who voted against Mr. McCarthy outright repudiated the results of the 2020 election. This figure compares to around 15 percent of the total 222 members that make up the Republican caucus. Even though Joe Biden received seven million more votes and 74 more electors than Donald Trump did, these Republicans claimed that the election had been stolen or manipulated, or that Donald J. Trump was the deserving winner. They also claimed that Donald J. Trump was the legitimate winner.
Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, one of the five newcomers who voted against Mr. McCarthy's quest for speaker, said, "President Trump won that election." Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who have emerged as ringleaders in the opposition to Mr. McCarthy's candidacy, have both said that the election in 2020 would be fraudulent.
Just like the rest of the Republican caucus, almost all of the legislators who voted against Mr. McCarthy made remarks that threw doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election, and they did it on many occasions. According to the study done by The Times, at least 180 of the 222 Republicans in the House have expressed doubts about 2020.
The vast majority of representatives who voted against Mr. McCarthy — at least 95 percent — are either members of the House Freedom Caucus or have been recently backed by the group's political action committee. On the other hand, it is believed that around one fifth of all House Republicans are members of the ultraconservative caucus. This caucus is one of the groupings in the House that is regarded as being one of the most conservative factions.
On Tuesday, during the third round of voting, every one of the 20 members who had previously disobeyed Mr. McCarthy voted instead for Jim Jordan of Ohio. Mr. Jordan, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and someone who voted for Mr. McCarthy, has often expressed skepticism over the race's outcome in 2020.
After McCarthy became the first House speaker candidate in 100 years to fail to win the gavel with his party in the majority, Republican members will attempt again on Wednesday to pick a speaker amid doubt about how McCarthy may return.
After a boisterous first day of the new Congress, Republicans adjourned Tuesday night without electing party leader Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker of the House. They will try to recover from this historic setback today.
The day's dramatic conclusion demonstrated that McCarthy faces significant resistance from the chamber's most conservative members and will have to battle to the latter end to claim the gavel. McCarthy needed 218 votes in the House, but he only garnered 203 after the first two rounds (fewer than the Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber) and 202 after the third.
The votes on Wednesday will show whether McCarthy's support continues to erode or if he can begin to reverse the trend.
For the Republicans, the next most likely leader is incoming Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), a reliable supporter of McCarthy's. He shares few ideological beliefs with McCarthy, making it unlikely that conservatives would support him.
When reporters on Tuesday night asked whether Democrats would be open to working with moderate Republicans to choose a "unity candidate," Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) dodged the question, saying instead that Democrats "haven't received any contact" from Republicans.
All other work in the House stands at a standstill as tensions grow with the new majority after dark.