Battle for Speaker of the House continues in second day of voting

Representative Kevin McCarthy failed on the fourth ballot on Wednesday to win enough votes to become the next Speaker of the House, as the Republican deadlock continued into a second day.

The breakaway GOP faction nominated another Republican, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, instead of Rep. Jim Jordan — who voted for McCarthy and said he was not seeking the presidency. With Democrats nominating Hakeem Jeffries, it was the first time in history that two black men were named Speaker of the House.

McCarthy was again nominated, this time by Rep. Mike Gallagher of Indiana. Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar re-nominated Hakeem Jeffries, to cheers from the Democratic caucus. The Republican breakaways launched another candidate: Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, who had switched his third-round vote from McCarthy to Representative Jim Jordan (who said he did not want the presidency).

In Tuesday’s three rounds of voting, McCarthy received fewer votes than Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, although neither received a majority of votes. Votes went to other Republicans, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Rep. Lee Zeldin in the first round, then went entirely to Jordan in the second and third rounds. Nineteen Republicans voted against McCarthy in the first two rounds, with Donalds becoming the 20th to back Jordan in the third round.

After the House adjourned after the third ballot on Tuesday night, Republicans found themselves at an impasse, but former President Donald Trump weighed in Wednesday morning with a direct appeal to the House GOP urging them to rally behind McCarthy . He warned resisters not to turn “a great triumph into a giant, embarrassing defeat”.

US Representatives gather to vote for their new Speaker of the House on the first day of the new Congress at the US Capitol in Washington
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) puts his hand to his face as he talks to fellow House Republicans on the floor of the House during voting as he runs for re-election to be the next Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, United States, January 3, 2023.


It’s unclear, however, whether Trump’s endorsement will cause them to vote for McCarthy on the fourth ballot.

McCarthy appeared to suggest Tuesday night that he might be able to win with a lower majority threshold, telling reporters he needed a range between 213 and 218 votes to win since the Democrats have 212 votes. A number less than 218 would only constitute an absolute majority if some members are absent or vote “present”, thus reducing the total number of lawmakers voting for or against him. If some of the 19 recalcitrants were to vote “present”, he could win.

He told reporters, “The Democrats have 212 votes; you get 213 votes, and the rest don’t say another name. That’s how you can win.”

Although this is the first time in about 100 years that it has taken more than one ballot to vote for a new president, the delay is far from unprecedented. In 1855, the House took four months to choose a new Speaker.


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