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Update (6:45 pm ET):
In a signal of what the U.S. House of Representatives could look for like the next two years, the chamber adjourned Tuesday evening after GOP Congressman Kevin McCarthy repeatedly failed to secure the 218 votes needed to become the next speaker due to a revolt by several far-right Republicans.
During the third round of voting, the California Republican received only 202 votes. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla). joined with the 19 other Republicans who had backed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in the second round, while Democrats maintained their support for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
“Unfortunately, it’s the American people who will pay the price for House Republicans’ inability to govern.”
“If Americans had any doubt that the GOP is irretrievably broken, today’s House speaker debacle confirms it,” Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge said in a statement after the chamber adjourned until noon Wednesday.
“Political arsonists control the House majority,” Eldridge added. “Whether they ultimately choose Kevin McCarthy or another extremist speaker of the House, the MAGA agenda will be the same: sow chaos, waste taxpayer dollars on sham investigations into President [Joe] Biden, and block progress on the pressing issues facing our nation. Unfortunately, it’s the American people who will pay the price for House Republicans’ inability to govern.”
Recalling her warning from just after the November midterms about “Republicans in ruin,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) took the opportunity to contrast Democratic and GOP House leadership.
“Thinking about how Democrats have delivered for the people time and again,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) similarly said. “Meanwhile, Republicans can’t even deliver for themselves.”
Several other progressives in the chamber also piled on, such as Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who tweeted that “this is embarrassing for McCarthy, and yet another display of Republican dysfunction.”
“Based on what is going on today, their ability to govern and pass legislation on their own, I think is tenuous at best,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told Politico. “When you bend everything to an ideological position, as opposed to the work of Congress, this is what you end up with.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) quipped that “Republicans want to run the country. They can’t even figure out who they want to run their party.”
Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) tied Tuesday’s events to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, taking aim at ex-President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, his former White House chief strategist.
“This once-in-a-century humiliation of a party’s nominee for speaker is chickens coming home to roost for McCarthy, who whitewashed right-wing insurrectionism on the House floor,” said Raskin. “Nobody’s getting killed now, but the House GOP now sleeps in the bed they made with Trump and Bannon.” Many of the Republicans who voted for Jordan tend to align themselves with the twice-impeached former president—who in November announced his 2024 campaign, despite various legal issues. However, both Jordan and Trump urging them to back McCarthy was not effective.
“Still not sworn in because the Republicans are having a hard time picking their leader,” Congressman-elect Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) tweeted Tuesday. “This is a snapshot of how they’ll operate for the next two years.”
With several far-right allies of former President Donald Trump leading a charge to block U.S. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become speaker of the chamber, the California Republican repeatedly fell short of the votes he needed to prevail on Tuesday.
During both rounds of voting, McCarthy got only 203 votes from his fellow Republicans, several short of the 218 votes needed to win the leadership position. In the second round of voting, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) received 19 votes.
That came after Jordan secured just six votes in the first round, when 10 Republicans supported Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) while Reps. Byron Donalds (Fla.) and Jim Banks (Ind.) as well as former Rep. Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) each received one vote.
Defectors included outspoken backers of Trump—who urged members to support McCarthy—including GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.), who nominated Jordan for the second round even though the Ohio Republican had already spoken in support of McCarthy.
For both rounds, every Democrat backed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who ended up with more votes than McCarthy but did not win the majority needed for the speakership. Jeffries is expected to become the House minority leader.
Leading up to the first vote, McCarthy agreed to some demands by his detractors, who include members of the House Freedom Caucus. He agreed to include in the House rules a stipulation that members can vote to unseat the speaker at any time, but refused to pledge to hold votes on some bills proposed by ultra-conservative members. He also did not pledge that the party’s political action committee would decline to fund primary challengers.
No other members can be sworn in until the speaker is elected, and the House will not be able to proceed with any official business until the matter is resolved.
The second round of voting began shortly after McCarthy lost the first round, with Jordan once again giving a nominating speech in support of the California lawmaker.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted that McCarthy’s failure to win the leadership post shows “the rise of the extreme MAGA caucus [has] already had ramifications.”
“House Republicans are showing the American people that they can’t govern,” said Lieu.
Anticipating the revolt by some House Republicans, The Washington Post noted last week that “the last time a speaker election took more than one ballot was in 1923, when Speaker Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.) was reelected on the ninth ballot.”