Kevin McCarthy fails to win speakership on historic first day of voting

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speaker selection

Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and an aide await the final vote count for Speaker of the House Tuesday, January 3, 2023 in the chamber of the House of Representatives . Credit – Bill Clark – Call CQ-Roll, Inc./Getty Images

For the first time in a century, the governing party did not choose a speaker for the House of Representatives on the first day of voting on Tuesday, as Republican Kevin McCarthy struggled over three rounds of voting to stop rebellion of the hardest line. conservatives, resulting in confusion with no clear path forward leading forward.

The opening session of the 118th Congress began with a historic upset when nineteen Republicans voted against the California legislature, which was the clear favorite to lead the lower house. A murderous drama unfolded inside the house, although McCarthy spent the weekend of the Beast of the Bank capitulating to the defects of his party on several fronts. On Sunday, for example, he issued a resolution that changed the Rules of the House to give more influence to his defiant critics, giving only five members the power to fire the Speaker.

But these concessions were not successful. In each round of voting, Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York received more votes than his GOP counterpart, leaving open the possibility that the leader of the minority party could win the speakership on a majority vote if Republicans cannot reach a consensus. Many more rounds of voting could follow, and the House plans to hold a fourth round on Wednesday.

It was a chaotic opening to the return of divided government in Washington, as House Republicans’ battle for leadership showed they may not be able to perform even some of the House’s basic duties in the coming months. . “Overall, it gives you a good indication of how they’re going to govern,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, Democrat of Arizona, told TIME. “If they can’t caucus themselves, how are they supposed to regulate the caucus and do what is necessary for this country?”

On the first ballot, which took place shortly after 12 pm, McCarthy lost nearly 20 votes to a mix of candidates, including clear opponents like Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks. While both men were expected to garner the support of the party’s small group of McCarthy critics, far-right Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado caused a murmur in the ornate House gallery as she she spoke for the Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, McCarthy. supporter, vote. In the second round, which began a few hours later, the defections consolidated around Jordan, the embattled Ohio lawmaker slated to become the next chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, who received 19- the vote In the third round, McCarthy lost another vote, bringing Jordan’s total to 20. Jordan himself voted for McCarthy – and encouraged his own friends to do so before the second round.

“We’re working to get Kevin elected,” Jordan told TIME outside the chamber just before voting began, describing a morning meeting with the House GOP caucus as “good and most productive.” He insisted that he is encouraging colleagues to circle the cars behind McCarthy. “For 60 days I’ve been trying to get them to support Kevin, but they have their reasons.”

These requests do not seem to have worked. Florida Representative Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan to be speaker in the second round of voting right after Jordan nominated McCarthy. “Maybe someone who wants it so much is not the right person for the position of Speaker of the House,” suggested Gaetz to his colleagues.

With Republicans holding a narrow 222 to 212 majority, McCarthy can afford only four defectors. Some holdovers may vote “present” if they stick to their McCarthy antagonism but don’t want to spark a long-term conflict, sources say, but if Jeffries leads the vote total, the speech could pass to a House Democrat who sues. resolution accepts to approve the speaker on a plurality line. That is, unless GOP members can rally around one of them. It is a scenario that reflects the fragility of the broken Republican coalition government in a position to take the reins of the Chamber of Deputies.

The Republican infighting within the party was in stark contrast to the Democrats, who voted unanimously for Jeffries, with incoming members taking their young children to the House to help them vote for Jeffries, who made history. the first ever black American to receive the most votes for speaker on Tuesday.

Continue reading: America loves to celebrate “firsts” like Hakeem Jeffries. It doesn’t always make it easy for them to lead

“The Democrats are united and the Republicans have become the conference of chaos,” Democratic Representative Lauren Underwood of Illinois told TIME.

Nevertheless, McCarthy’s supporters were adamant all day that their election would win regardless of how many rounds of voting there were. “There are challenges right now, but eventually McCarthy will be the speaker,” Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan told TIME. “I think eventually the other side will break down and say, ‘We lost, we don’t have the votes, and we don’t have anyone to offer who is able to get the votes.'”

A group of five far-right lawmakers, many of whom are part of the House Freedom Caucus, have for months expressed their displeasure at McCarthy’s spokespeople. McCarthy believes he has been too willing to cooperate with Democrats in the past and contributed to a bloated federal government. In an attempt to consolidate his side of the aisle, McCarthy released a new rules package that included a five-member “eviction bill” that would leave him vulnerable to disgruntled Republican lawmakers. The same measure also included provisions to effectively eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent ethics watchdog on Capitol Hill that was preparing to investigate members involved in the January 6 attack. 2021 on the Capitol.

This was not enough. Boebert called for an eviction request from one member Tuesday morning, and Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry issued a statement that McCarthy refused to comply with their demands, thereby renouncing his opportunity to secure the position. of speaking. He did not give further details.

After this morning’s closed-door meeting with the full House GOP caucus, some members couldn’t care less about the concessions the defectors wanted from McCarthy, which they still haven’t gotten. “There is no clarity,” Thompson said.

Nor was there certainty that the next speaker could even be decided at the end of the day. The stoppage could potentially last for days, and voting will resume on January 4. With Republicans still trying to resolve the standoff, there appears to be no end in sight.

-With reports from Jasmine Aguilera and Mini Racker/Washington


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