Kevin McCarthy suffered another crushing defeat Wednesday when he lost the sixth round of voting for speaker — a major blow that increasingly jeopardizes his candidacy and heightens questions about whether he There is still uncertainty over whether the Speaker’s seat will be secured or whether a viable candidate will emerge. substitute.
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to adjourn until 12 noon ET Thursday as Republicans scrambled to find a way forward.
The House Republican majority is at a contentious impasse as a group of conservatives turn against McCarthy. The fight, which began on the first day of the 118th Congress, has thrown the new House Republican majority into disarray, weakening the party’s agenda.
Until the impasse is resolved, the House will remain paralyzed. The situation has turned grim for McCarthy’s political future as GOP allies have begun to worry that the House GOP leader may not be able to complete his gamble on the Speaker if the fight continues for longer.
It’s unclear whether McCarthy and his allies will be able to lock in votes — and the longer the fight drags on, the more at risk he will run for speaker. But there were signs on Wednesday that the talks were making progress.
In a major concession first reported by CNN, McCarthy agreed to propose a rule change that would allow only one member to request a vote to remove a sitting speaker, according to two sources familiar with the matter. McCarthy initially proposed a five-member threshold, lower than current convention rules that require half of Republicans to demand such a vote. Many members have been wary of bowing to the far right on the issue because it would weaken the speaker and cause confusion in ranks.
In two other concessions, he also agreed to allow more members of the Freedom Caucus to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee, which decides how and whether bills will pass, and to vote on a handful of priority bills to uphold, including proposing to Term limits for members and border security plans.
However, nothing is final as negotiations are ongoing.
Even if McCarthy’s proposal is accepted, he would still fall short of the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, Republican sources said. While the concessions may attract some new support, other opponents have raised different concerns that have not been adequately addressed.
After a series of failed speaker votes earlier in the day, the House adjourned for hours as Republicans continued to negotiate.
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, one of the conservatives who voted against McCarthy for the speakership, told GOP leaders he believes he can get 10 opponents if those ongoing talks are successful, according to Republican sources familiar with the internal discussions. to join. Other critics who might be willing to vote “in there”.
Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy allies and holdouts were the most productive and serious yet, sources said. In a sign of a breakthrough, McCarthy-aligned super PACs agreed not to run in open Republican primaries in safe seats — a major demand from conservatives that McCarthy had until then resisted.
“We’ve sat there as an institution in the last two days and had more discussions than we’ve done in four damn years,” Roy said as he left the Capitol on Wednesday night.
Still, even if those talks prove successful, and 10 lawmakers do turn to McCarthy’s column — which is far from certain — it doesn’t get McCarthy the 218 votes needed to win the Speaker’s seat, so he has more work to be done.
Incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer said Wednesday night that negotiations over the next speaker have been “very, very constructive.”
“There’s a whole bunch of members involved, and now there’s some folks sitting down with that discussion to see where they want to go next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
House Republicans have 222 seats in the new Congress, and McCarthy would have to lose only four Republican votes to reach 218. His obstacle is that he faces a small group of staunchly hardline conservatives who have so far managed to deny him the vote, keeping him safe.
The group used their clout with the slim Republican majority to push for concessions. McCarthy has bowed to some of their demands, including making it increasingly easier to overturn seated speakers, but so far his efforts haven’t been enough.
After three rounds of voting on Tuesday, the House convened on Wednesday to continue voting. McCarthy underperformed each time, falling short of the majority threshold needed to secure the Speaker’s seat.
Things appeared to get worse for McCarthy as votes rose Tuesday, as the number of votes against his speaker’s race increased.
In the first round of voting for speaker, McCarthy received 203 votes, and 19 Republicans voted for other candidates. The result of the second round of voting was that McCarthy received 203 votes and the Republican House of Representatives received 19 votes. Jim Jordan of Ohio. In the third round of voting, McCarthy received 202 votes to Jordan’s 20. Byron Donalds joined 19 Republican lawmakers who voted against McCarthy in the first two rounds.
This is the first time since 1923 that there has been a multiple vote in the election of the speaker.
“My vote yesterday was basically to break the deadlock, because we’re deadlocked and we’re not making any progress,” Donalds, a Florida Republican, said Wednesday on “CNN This Morning.” “Right now, (McCarthy) has no path to get there. If this happens again, yes, I can be there, that’s fine, but what’s needed now is for the Republicans to come together and find a way to elect a speaker.”
On the fourth ballot, 20 Republicans voted together for Donald as the group shifted their collective support from Jordan to Donald. Rep. Victoria Spatz of Indiana voted to lower McCarthy’s threshold to 217.
Spaatz told CNN she did so because she wanted more negotiations in the meeting to address the concerns of the 20 members.
The final count of the fifth ballot remained 201 for McCarthy, 20 for Donald and one cash vote.
The sixth ballot ended with a tie: 201 for McCarthy, 20 for Donalds, and now one.
Trump is closely monitoring developments on Capitol Hill, and his public support has been a focus of McCarthy’s efforts.
McCarthy’s allies panicked Tuesday after the former president gave a tepid response to NBC News when he was asked about his support for McCarthy, two Republican sources familiar with the matter said. The former president also declined on Monday to issue a statement reiterating his support for McCarthy, two sources said, despite efforts behind the scenes by several of McCarthy’s allies to get Trump to do so.
A close McCarthy ally then began to clean up behind the scenes and began pressing Trump for a statement clarifying his support. McCarthy and Trump then connected by phone, and McCarthy said Trump indicated he remained committed to supporting him. On Wednesday morning, Trump strongly supported Truth Social, imploring Republicans not to “turn a great victory into a huge and embarrassing defeat” and urging them to vote for McCarthy.
While Trump’s statement may not impress McCarthy’s fiercest enemies, one of the sources said the McCarthy world was concerned he would look “soft,” like he was losing support, so they thought it would be easy to reverse the narrative. important.
Gates, one of House Republicans who opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, called Trump’s recent efforts to help the California Republican “sad.”
“It didn’t change my opinion of McCarthy and Trump, nor my vote,” Gates said in a statement to Fox Digital News on Wednesday, just as Trump defended Trump in a Truth Social post. Shortly after McCarthy pleaded.
Gates has long been a staunch Trump ally, but his refusal to bow to Trump’s desire for McCarthy’s speakership has sparked questions about the former president’s sympathy for Republicans during his third presidential campaign. New doubts about its waning influence.
“If Matt Gates ignores you, that’s not a good sign,” said a Trump ally involved in his 2024 campaign.
Trump has been making calls on McCarthy’s behalf for the past 24 hours in an attempt to break the conservative blockade on him, but his efforts have so far been fruitless, the person said.
A lawmaker who spoke with Trump late Tuesday suggested the former president should run for speaker himself, according to a person briefed on the call. Trump objected and continued to push the man to support McCarthy, claiming he would be a staunch supporter of “America First.”
This story and title have been updated with additional developments.