Can McCarthy survive THIRD day of Speaker votes? Republican leader makes more concessions


House lawmakers are wearily making their way back to the US Capitol on Thursday morning as Republicans’ fight over who will lead their thin majority spills into a third day. 

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy‘s bid for the House Speakership was derailed by conservative rebels, who an ally of his dubbed the ‘Taliban 20.’

Returning to the Capitol this morning, he told reporters that talks are ‘making progress.’ 

The historic gridlock has paralyzed Capitol Hill; with no Speaker, the 118th House of Representatives cannot be sworn in, and new legislation cannot move to the floor or through committees – which do not have formal chairs yet.

And on Wednesday, a group of Republican military veterans held a press conference warning that the disarray was leading to significant national security vulnerabilities. Florida Rep. Michael Waltz said from the podium, ‘Authoritarian regimes all over the world are pointing to what’s going on in the House of Representatives and saying, Look at the messiness of democracy, look at how it doesn’t work, can’t function.’

It’s been reported that McCarthy made some significant new concessions to his 20 detractors, including a measure that would allow one GOP lawmaker to trigger a vote for a new House Speaker, according to CNN – known as motion to vacate the chair.

It's not clear whether the new concessions GOP Leader McCarthy has made will be enough to win him the Speaker's gavel

It’s not clear whether the new concessions GOP Leader McCarthy has made will be enough to win him the Speaker’s gavel

He lost six Speaker votes across two days in a historic display of chaos in the US Congress

He lost six Speaker votes across two days in a historic display of chaos in the US Congress

Despite that, there appear to still be five lingering holdouts. As of now, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes to still win.

Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Bob Good of Virginia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Rosendale of Montana likely won’t budge, Politico reported in its Thursday morning Playbook.

But McCarthy’s critics have once again gathered for an 8am meeting to discuss the overnight concessions he made, GOP Rep. Warren Davidson – not among the number – told CNN’s morning show.

In addition to the motion to vacate the chair being set at one vote, McCarthy has also reportedly promised conservatives votes on border security and term limits legislation.

He also reportedly agreed to giving more spots on the House Rules Committee to members of the hardline-right House Freedom Caucus. The powerful panel acts as a gatekeeper for any legislation that comes to the floor.

But his pathway to winning 218 votes still appears murky with the five likely holdouts, and no Democrat would vote for the conservative concessions McCarthy has given.

There are five GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, who have committed to voting against McCarthy, no matter what

There are five GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, who have committed to voting against McCarthy, no matter what

Republicans have fallen into disarray over their disagreements on a new House Speaker

Republicans have fallen into disarray over their disagreements on a new House Speaker

Even some moderates in his party appear wary of him giving away too much. 

GOP Rep. Carol Miller of West Virginia, who has voted for McCarthy in all six rounds, told CNN on Thursday morning that she did not like the threshold for the motion to vacate the chair being reduced from five to one.

Under the GOP’s previous conference rules, a new Speaker vote is triggered by no less than half of its members. 

The House gavels back into session at 12pm on Thursday, where lawmakers will have two options: a seventh round Speaker vote, or to adjourn. 

One potential pathway to victory for McCarthy is to convince enough critics to vote ‘present,’ which would lower the number of votes needed to reach a majority.

But after emerging from a meeting in incoming Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s office on Wednesday evening, Gaetz made clear to reporters that he would keep voting against McCarthy for as long as it takes.

Gaetz called McCarthy ‘desperate’ and said he was ready to ‘vote all night, all week, all month’ against him.

Meanwhile Boebert, who has also made clear McCarthy would never get her support, was grilled about her resistance by conservative TV host Sean Hannity on Fox News Wednesday night.

Hannity launched blistering criticism at Boebert and McCarthy’s other detractors, asking her, ‘If I’m going to use your words, and your methodology, and your math…isn’t it time for your side to pack it in?’ 

Boebert kept insisting that McCarthy would not reach the majority threshold to win the gavel, as a frustrated Hannity pushed her to directly say why she would not give in.

‘I asked you a simple question. I feel like I’m getting an answer from a liberal,’ an exasperated Hannity said at one point.

Negotiations have nevertheless been ongoing to try to persuade the holdouts to vote for McCarthy or at least vote 'present'

Negotiations have nevertheless been ongoing to try to persuade the holdouts to vote for McCarthy or at least vote ‘present’ 

McCarthy told reporters while entering the Capitol on Thursday morning that they were 'making progress' (pictured: McCarthy, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others celebrating when their motion to adjourn for the night passed on Wednesday evening

McCarthy told reporters while entering the Capitol on Thursday morning that they were ‘making progress’ (pictured: McCarthy, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others celebrating when their motion to adjourn for the night passed on Wednesday evening

The 118th Congress has been paralyzed without an agreement on who will lead the House of Representatives

The 118th Congress has been paralyzed without an agreement on who will lead the House of Representatives

Texas Rep. Chip Roy, however – a critic of McCarthy’s who has also been a leader in negotiations for the conservatives – reportedly told GOP Leaders that he could persuade 10 holdouts to cross the line amid the new concessions, according to CNN.

An original 19 ‘no’ votes on McCarthy in the first two rounds of voting on Tuesday turned into 20 on the third attempt, as Florida Rep. Byron Donalds joined them in voting for Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

Jordan, however, has voted for McCarthy every time.

On Wednesday, the 20 rebels shifted their support to Donalds – making it, along with Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ nomination, the first time two black candidates were up for House Speaker.

It’s not immediately clear if they will stick behind Donalds or coalesce behind another candidate in an attempt to keep pushing McCarthy further from the gavel.

MCCARTHY OFFERS FRESH CONCESSIONS TO WIN OVER HARD-RIGHT REPUBLICANS 

IN A STUNNING REVERSAL, THE GOP LEADER IS NOW OPEN TO ONCE ‘RED-LINE’ DEMANDS FROM RIGHT-WING REBELS 

• ONE-MEMBER ‘MOTION TO VACATE’ THE CHAIR 

In a major concession to the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the California Republican has offered to lower the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote to remove the speaker – from five to one – a change that the GOP leader had previously said he would not accept. 

• FREEDOM CAUCUS TO HAVE RULES COMMITTEE SEATS 

McCarthy is open to allowing GOP hardliners to handpick four of the party’s members on the powerful Rules Committee – no small concession as it controls what legislation reaches the floor, as well as allowing ANY lawmaker to propose changes on spending legislation, including any that would tank the measure.

• A VOTE ON TERM LIMITS

There were also discussions of introducing legislation limiting House members to three terms and Senators to two terms. The upper chamber is currently led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York meaning the proposal to limit the Senate is a no-go.

 • REBELS TO CHAIR SUB-COMMITTEE 

Several ‘Never Kevin Caucus’ members want high-profile assignments including Florida’s Matt Gaetz as chair of the House Armed Services subcommittee and Maryland’s Andy Harris as the head of the Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services 

• CHANGES TO APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS

The Freedom Caucus wants rule changes that would decentralize power in both the House GOP – and the rest of the chamber – to give more power to individual members.  The demand that committee chairs are selected by the committee and not the leadership, and rewards fundraising and party loyalty.

DailyMail.com breaks down what will happens with the Speaker vote and how long it can go on for 

McCarthy is facing diehard opposition from a small number of conservative lawmakers who calls themselves ‘the Never Kevin Caucus’ in a 222-213 majority could well tank his nomination.

The NKs are led by Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Ralph Norman of South Carolina – amongst others. 

Here’s what you need to know about how the House elects a speaker:

FIRST THINGS FIRST: NO SPEAKER, NO HOUSE 

While selecting a speaker is the first vote the House will take before new and returning lawmakers are sworn into office on Tuesday. As dictated by the Constitution, the session begins at 12 noon (Eastern) on January 3, and House members from both parties will join in the vote for speaker – the magic number to be declared the winner: 218

If the House cannot elect someone with a majority of its voting members, Plan B is a parliamentarian’s nightmare. In short, someone, somehow needs to get to 218 votes before the floor is open for business.

The last speaker election to go beyond the first ballot was in 1923, when members took nine tries to name Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.) to the position. The all-time record for duration of a speaker vote was in the mid-1850s — when lawmakers took almost two months and 133 ballots before picking Nathaniel Banks, also of Massachusetts. 

The House can change the election rules allowing a simple majority of votes to become the speaker, but this could backfire for the Republicans since Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) could win a majority vote meaning the House and the Senate would both be under Democratic control – a highly unlikely scenario.

Frederick H Gillett of Massachusetts, was re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on 5th December, when the Republican insurgents voted for him for the first time after a deadlock two days previously on December 14, 1923

Frederick H Gillett of Massachusetts, was re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on 5th December, when the Republican insurgents voted for him for the first time after a deadlock two days previously on December 14, 1923

The last speaker election to go beyond the first ballot was in 1923, when members took nine tries to name Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.)

The last speaker election to go beyond the first ballot was in 1923, when members took nine tries to name Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.)

Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. Pelosi discussed the speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Congress and likened it to a similar speech by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in the photo at left, which was attended by her father, a congressman from Maryland

Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. Pelosi discussed the speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Congress and likened it to a similar speech by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in the photo at left, which was attended by her father, a congressman from Maryland

(L-R) Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) during a news conference with House Democrats about the Build Back Better legislation, outside of the U.S. Capitol on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.

(L-R) Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) during a news conference with House Democrats about the Build Back Better legislation, outside of the U.S. Capitol on November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.

WHO CAN BE NOMINATED?

Just after the November 8 general election, both parties held an informal vote to decide who should lead their respective parties in January. McCarthy won the majority on the GOP vote in a closed-door session in November but not enough to cinch the deal. Democrats rallied behind Jeffries to become party’s leader after Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California stepped down after losing the majority.

But once Congress enters a new session, members are not required to vote for the party’s preferred candidate – or even a member of the House.  

President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and even a senator, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, have received votes for House speaker.

LET THE VOTING BEGIN

Once the House is in session, the speaker nominee from each party is announced and a roll call vote is held by House members who are present and voting.

As of Tuesday morning, many politicians, pundits – even McCarthy himself remains skeptical that he will reach a majority to become speaker on the first ballot. Should he come up short, it is likely the clerk will repeat the roll call vote several times until he is able to garner a majority. McCarthy is expected to continue to make concessions with the holdouts until the moment he is able to grasp the gavel.

Since the House leadership election outcome is not a done deal, a speaker could be elected today after multiple attempts, delayed for day or weeks, or Congress could change the rules in order to get a simple majority.

Until a speaker is elected, Cheryl Lynn Johnson, the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Pelosi appointee, will preside over the lower chamber. 

The outgoing speaker will usually join the successor at the speaker’s chair, where they will pass the gavel as a nod to the peaceful transition of power from one party leader to another. This time around, that will be Pelosi, the California Democrat who held the gavel for the last four years.

 



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