UNITED STATES NEWS

House speaker seat remains empty as McCarthy falls short for 3rd day in GOP standoff

Jan 5, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 9:46 pm

U.S. Rep.-elect Cory Mills (R-FL) (L) talks to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the...

U.S. Rep.-elect Cory Mills (R-FL) (L) talks to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 5, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For a long and frustrating third day, divided Republicans kept the speaker’s chair of the U.S. House empty Thursday, as party leader Kevin McCarthy failed again and again in an excruciating string of ballots to win enough GOP votes to seize the chamber’s gavel.

Long after darkness, glimmers of a deal with far-right holdouts were emerging. But the day’s tally was dismal: McCarthy lost seventh, eighth and then historic ninth, 10th and 11th rounds of voting, surpassing the number of 100 years ago in the last drawn-out fight to choose a speaker. By nightfall, despite raucous protests from Democrats, Republicans voted to adjourn and return Friday to try again.

The California Republican soaked up the moment without visible concern: “Apparently, I like to make history.”

The contours of an agreement with holdouts from the conservative Freedom Caucus began to take shape, including several of the key rules changes they have been seeking for months. Those changes would shrink the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence in drafting legislation.

At the core is the reinstatement of a House rule that would allow a single lawmaker to make a motion to “vacate the chair,” essentially calling a vote to oust the speaker — a move McCarthy had resisted because it had been held over the head of past Republican Speaker John Boehner, chasing him to early retirement.

Even if McCarthy is able to secure the votes he needs, he will emerge as a weakened speaker, having given away some powers and constantly under a threat of being voted out by his detractors. But he would also be potentially emboldened as a survivor of one of the more brutal fights for the gavel in U.S. history.

Other wins for the holdouts include provisions in the proposed deal to expand the number of seats available on the House Rules Committee, to mandate 72 hours for bills to be posted before votes and to promise to try for a constitutional amendment that would impose federal limits on the number of terms a person could serve in the House and Senate.

The chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, appeared receptive, tweeting the adage from Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”

Lest hopes get ahead of reality, conservative holdout Ralph Norman of South Carolina said, “This is round one.”

“We’ve got some progress going on,” McCarthy said, brushing back questions about the lengthy, messy process. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

With McCarthy’s supporters and foes locked in stalemate, the House cannot fully open for the new session, essentially at a standstill, unable to swear in elected members and conduct official business. And feelings of boredom, desperation and annoyance seemed increasingly evident on Thursday.

One McCarthy critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, cast votes for Donald Trump — a symbolic but pointed sign of the broad divisions over the Republican Party’s future. Then he went further, moving the day from protest toward the absurd in formally nominating the former president to be House speaker on the 11th ballot. Trump got one vote, from Gaetz, drawing laughter.

As night fell before the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election, Democrats said it was time to get serious. The divisive speaker’s fight only underscored the fragility of American democracy exposed by that assault.

“This sacred House of Representatives needs a leader,” said Democrat Joe Neguse of Colorado, nominating his own party’s leader, Hakeem Jeffries, as speaker.

McCarthy could be seen talking, one on one, in whispered and animated conversations in the House chamber. His emissaries sidled up to holdouts, and grueling negotiations proceeded in the GOP whip’s office down the hall. Through defeat after defeat, McCarthy remained determined to persuade Republicans to end the paralyzing debate that has blighted his new GOP majority.

What started as a political novelty, the first time since 1923 a nominee had not won the gavel on the first vote, has devolved into a bitter Republican Party feud and deepening potential crisis.

Democrat Jeffries of New York won the most votes on every ballot but also remained short of a majority. McCarthy ran second, gaining no ground.

Pressure has grown with each passing day for McCarthy to somehow find the votes he needs or step aside. The incoming Republican chairmen of the House’s Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees all said national security was at risk.

“The Biden administration is going unchecked and there is no oversight of the White House,” Republicans Michael McCaul, Mike Rogers and Mike Turner wrote in a joint statement. “We cannot let personal politics place the safety and security of the United States at risk.”

But McCarthy’s right-flank detractors, led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with Trump, appeared emboldened — even though the former president publicly backed McCarthy.

Republican Party holdouts repeatedly put forward the name of Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, ensuring continuation of the stalemate that increasingly carried undercurrents of race and politics. They also put forward Republican Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, splitting the protest vote.

Donalds, who is Black, is seen as an emerging party leader and a GOP counterpoint to the Democratic leader, Jeffries, who is the first Black leader of a major political party in the U.S. Congress and is on track himself to become speaker some day.

Another Black Republican, newly elected John James, nominated McCarthy on the seventh ballot as nominators became a roll call of the GOP’s rising stars. For the 10th it was newly elected Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, an immigrant from Mexico whose speech drew chants of “USA! USA!”

A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda, want to upend business as usual in Washington and are committed to stopping McCarthy’s rise without concessions to their priorities.

But those opposing McCarthy do not all have the same complaints, and he may never be able to win over some of them.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, much the way that some past Republican speakers, including Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right flank. The result: government shutdowns, standoffs and Boehner’s early retirement.

The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.

United States News

Associated Press

Deputy US marshal detained after ‘inappropriate behavior’ while intoxicated on flight, agency says

A deputy U.S. marshal was detained in the United Kingdom on suspicion of acting inappropriately while intoxicated on a flight from New York, the agency said Wednesday. The deputy was one of two who flew to London Tuesday to bring back a person suspected of a crime when the federal agent was accused of acting […]

51 minutes ago

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters after a closed-door meeting with ...

Associated Press

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California is resigning, 2 months after his ouster as House speaker

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is resigning from Congress and will leave at the end of this year, he announced on Wednesday.

53 minutes ago

Associated Press

Jury acquits officer in Maryland county’s first police murder charge in shooting handcuffed man

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — A Maryland police officer was acquitted by a jury of murder and other charges Wednesday from the fatal shooting a handcuffed man. The jury acquitted Michael Owen Jr. of all four charges, including second-degree murder, first-degree assault, voluntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. It took the jury less than two […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Boy Scout abuse claims fund shouldn’t pay $21 million in lawyers’ fees, judge says

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The judge presiding over the Boys Scouts of America’s bankruptcy has rejected a $21 million fee request from attorneys hired by law firms representing survivors of child sexual abuse. A group of personal injury firms called the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice wanted to have its legal fees and expenses […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

California inmate charged with attempted murder in attack on Kristin Smart’s killer

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A twice-convicted killer has been charged with attempted murder for a prison yard attack on a fellow inmate convicted of the high-profile killing of California college student Kristin Smart, who vanished 27 years ago, prosecutors said Wednesday. A complaint filed Nov. 30 also charged Jason Richard Budrow, 43, with counts involving […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

House speaker seat remains empty as McCarthy falls short for 3rd day in GOP standoff