WASHINGTON — For a third consecutive day, a bloc of ultraconservative bomb throwers denied GOP leader Kevin McCarthy the speaker’s gavel Thursday, even after he caved on a set of concessions the right-wing Republicans were demanding.
It marked the 11th straight defeat for McCarthy, who has vowed to fight on. While he still maintained support from roughly 90% of his GOP colleagues, the conservative rebels on Thursday banded together and were able to block McCarthy from securing the simple majority of the House needed to be elected speaker (a number that can shift).
The House adjourned Thursday evening without a speaker and will return at noon on Friday.
“We’re working through it, we’re making progress,” McCarthy told reporters as he left the chamber.
When asked whether concessions and multiple failed votes would undercut his power if he wins the speakership, McCarthy said he didn’t believe they would. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And if we finish well, we’ll be very successful,” McCarthy said.
Thursday was a repeat of the previous two days when the small group of rebels rejected McCarthy during six consecutive floor votes — all of them televised. Because Republicans won a paper-thin majority in November, it will take nearly all of their 222 members agreeing on a pick for speaker before any other House business can move forward.
While all 20 conservatives stuck together in opposition to McCarthy during Thursday’s votes, they backed different candidates for speaker. The majority continued their support for Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida for speaker, while other McCarthy opponents voted for Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a leader of the so-called Never Kevins who have vowed never to support McCarthy, nominated and voted for former President Donald Trump several times Thursday. (The speaker of the House does not need to be a member of Congress).
Asked what the end game was, Gaetz replied: “The defeat of Kevin McCarthy. … As long as it takes.”
Fierce GOP infighting over who should be the next speaker has paralyzed the House of Representatives, preventing lawmakers from being sworn in, delaying staff hiring and stalling the GOP’s legislative agenda and committee investigations.
“I think it’s bad — bad for the GOP brand,” said moderate swing-district Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb, a McCarthy loyalist. “Folks out all over America aren’t going to say, ‘it’s that 20.’ They’re going to group us together.”
- House adjourns after McCarthy loses 11th vote for speaker - January 5, 2023