On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives held its vote to determine the next Speaker- the prestigious and coveted position which is third in the line of presidential succession.
Kevin McCarthy, R- Calif., Andy Biggs D- Ariz., and Hakeen Jeffries D- N.Y. were nominated for the position but ultimately the vote ended in a stalemate as the California Republican failed to reach the 218 vote threshold. No nominee reached the required number of votes meaning House lawmakers now will engage in round after round of voting until a Speaker is elected.
According to The Hill, in the event of multiple ballots, the House will not necessarily continue late into the night. The last time there were multiple ballots, the House adjourned until the following day after four failed ballots. Adjourning also allows members time to negotiate and strike deals.
Dire circumstances could lead to unusual procedures. Twice before, in 1849 and 1856, the House agreed to a resolution that allowed a Speaker to be elected by a plurality. That move was something of a last resort, though, and came after 59 and 129 failed ballots. A majority of the whole House would need to agree to that resolution.
McCarthy’s failure to secure the Speaker’s gavel during Tuesday’s vote marks the first time in a century the U.S. House of Representatives has gone to multiple votes for the office.
Hours before the 118th Congress began its leadership deliberations the influential conservative organization Club for Growth urged lawmakers to oppose McCarthy for Speaker unless he makes a number of concessions.
“I just voted for Jim Jordan to be Speaker of the House.” Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R) tweeted during the vote.
The highly anticipated result came after a contentious campaign battle for the position as disappointing midterm results spurred animosity amongst Republican lawmakers. McCarthy was initially named the sole Republican contender for the position but some blamed the California Republican for the lackluster midterm results leading them to declare their early opposition to his bid for Speaker.
On Sunday, according to The Hill, Rep. McCarthy offered a number of concessions including allowing a move to “vacate the chair” that would force a vote on ousting the Speaker with the approval of five Republican members, rather than a threshold of at least half of the House GOP Conference that Republicans adopted in an internal rule in November.
The chamber is also scheduled to create a House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government,” a recognition of a request to increase scrutiny on the Biden administration and intelligence agencies.
In a letter to GOP colleagues, McCarthy — speaking as “Speaker-Designate” — also addressed a request from conservatives to have more representation on committees.
“I will use my selections on key panels to ensure they more closely reflect the ideological makeup of our conference, and will advocate for the same when it comes to the membership of standing committees. This will facilitate greater scrutiny of bills from the start so they stand a greater chance of passing in the end,” the letter from McCarthy said.
However, despite McCarthy’s best attempts to re-attract hardline Republican lawmakers back to his side, some conservatives said after a Sunday conference call that McCarthy is still coming up short.
According to The Washington Examiner:
During the course of the call, multiple members “said they won’t vote for it [the rules package] if Kevin is not Speaker,” one lawmaker told The Examiner. Another member said moderates expressed grievances with the changes to the motion to vacate despite pro-McCarthy lawmakers attempting to sell the package to defectors in hopes it would shift critics’ support toward the California Republican.
“They started [the call] with this new rules package that we’re all about to see and are obviously saying the rules package – it’s great, everyone worked so hard, we got all these great things and they’re gonna be historic. And then [Gaetz] got on there and said, ‘Well, if everyone wants the rules package, we should accept it no matter who the speaker is because if these are good rules are good rules, right?’” the lawmaker said. “But then the mods piled on and said actually, we hate the rules package.”
Following the call, a group of conservatives released a letter saying the California Republican’s changes had come up short of what was needed to secure support.
“Regrettably, however, despite some progress achieved, Mr. McCarthy’s statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead of the opening of the 118th Congress on January 3rd. At this stage, it cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient,” they wrote.
“This is especially true with respect to Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy for Speaker because the times call for radical departure from the status quo — not a continuation of past, and ongoing, Republican failures. For someone with a 14-year presence in senior House Republican leadership, Mr. McCarthy bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across that long tenure.”
House Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry told The Hill on Sunday, “I think what he’s trying to do is the bare minimum that he needs to try and get to where he can get the votes. And that’s not indicative of somebody that really wants to embrace new ideas, reject the status quo and unify all members in the conference.”