McCarthy fails with marathon votes for Speaker, House of Representatives adjourns

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Republicans failing to elect party leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House Speaker, Republicans adjourned in disarray Tuesday night, ending a rowdy first day of the new Congress but hoping to meet Wednesday after its somehow regroup historical defeat.

The abrupt end to a long, chaotic first day showed McCarthy had no easy road ahead, who, despite opposition from the most conservative members of the chamber, vowed to fight to the end to get the gavel. McCarthy needed 218 votes in the full house and got just 203 in two rounds – fewer even than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber – and did even worse with 202 in round three.

Tensions rose as night fell over the majority of the new home and all other business ground to a halt. The house agreed to return Wednesday noon.

“Kevin McCarthy will not be a speaker,” stated Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., among the holdouts.

McCarthy had promised a “fight on the ground” for as long as it took to defeat right-flank Republicans, who refused to give him their votes. But it wasn’t at all clear how the embattled GOP leader would recover after becoming the first nominee for a House Speaker in 100 years to fail to win the gavel with his party in a majority.

Without a speaker, the House of Representatives cannot fully form — it can swear in its members, appoint its committee chairs, participate in ground trials, and initiate investigations into the Biden administration.

“We all came here to get things done,” second-ranking Republican Rep. Steve Scalise said in a rousing speech in which he urged colleagues to drop their protest.

Scalise, itself a potential GOP compromise election, railed against Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda, saying, “We cannot begin to resolve these issues until we have elected Kevin McCarthy as our next speaker.”

It was a chaotic start to the new Congress and pointed to a difficult path now that Republicans are in control of the House of Representatives. Lawmakers’ families waited around as a normally festive day descended into chaos, with children playing in the aisles or squirming in parents’ arms. A new generation of conservative Republicans, many of whom are aligned with Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda, want to turn business upside down as they have done in Washington and have pledged to halt McCarthy’s rise without compromising their priorities.

“The American people are watching, and that’s a good thing,” said R-Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who nominated Ohio Conservative Rep. Jim Jordan as the alternate speaker.

It was the second time the Conservatives pushed forward a reluctant Jordan, the McCarthy rival-turned-ally, who had earlier risen to urge his peers, even those who supported him, to vote for to drop McCarthy.

“We need to gather around him, come together,” Jordan said.

Overall, a core group of 19 Republicans — and then 20 — voted for Jordan, denying McCarthy the majority he needed.

McCarthy was smiling despite it all and seemed intent on just trying to wear his colleagues down. Before that, he entered the room, posed for photos and received a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle. He was nominated by third-ranking Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who said the Californian from grim Bakersfield “has what it takes” to lead the House of Representatives.

But a challenge was quickly raised by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a conservative former Freedom Caucus leader who was nominated by another conservative to speak.

Tension was tense, at least on the Republican side, as lawmakers rose from their seats in a protracted in-person vote. Democrats were optimistic as they cast their own historic votes for their leader, Rep. Jeffries of New York.

In the first round, McCarthy won 203 votes, 10 for Biggs and nine for other Republicans. In the second, it was 203 for McCarthy and 19 for Jordan. On the third vote, McCarthy had 202 to Jordan’s 20. Democrat Jeffries had the most, 212 votes, but no candidate won a majority.

“The only thing that’s clear is that he doesn’t have the votes,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., told CNN before joining those who elected McCarthy. “At some point, as a conference, we need to figure out who’s doing this.”

The McCarthy stalemate has been building since Republicans appeared on track to win the House majority in the midterm elections. In November, a new generation of Republicans close to Trump led opposition to McCarthy, believing he was neither conservative nor tough enough to run against the Democrats.

While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, House Republicans are eager to confront Biden after two years of Democrat control of both houses of Congress.

After a private GOP morning meeting, a core group of conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and allied with Trump were furious, calling the meeting a “crush” by McCarthy allies and remaining steadfast in their opposition to the GOP leader.

“There is one person who could have changed all of that,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a leader in Trump’s effort to challenge the 2020 presidential election.

The group said McCarthy rejected the group’s latest request for rule changes at a meeting late Monday at the Capitol.

“If you’re going to drain the swamp, you can’t let the biggest alligator take control of the exercise,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

McCarthy’s supporters also got angry. MP Dusty Johnson, RS.D., a leader of a more pragmatic Conservative group, said “frustration has risen” because the minority faction is opposed to McCarthy.

As the day began, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi closed the final session by stepping aside for leadership of the new House of Representatives in her Democratic Party, to a standing ovation from peers on her side of the aisle.

The Chaplain opened with a prayer to bring the 118th Convention to life.

Democrats enthusiastically nominated Jeffries, D-.NY, who will become party leader, as their choice for speaker — a typically symbolic gesture for the minority but one that took on new meaning as Republicans were at odds with one another.

“For the first time in American history, a Latino in this chamber is nominating a black man for our leader,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the third-ranking Democrat, in nominating his colleague.

But there was only negative history for Republicans. when McCarthy fell short, even with an endorsement from former President Trump.

The next steps are uncertain. Second-ranking Republican in the House Scalise of Louisiana could be a next pick, a conservative well-liked by his peers and considered a hero by some after surviving a gunshot wound sustained during a baseball game in Congress in 2017 had moved.

A speaker competition was last in 1923 over several rounds.

This year’s Republican stalemate was in stark contrast to the other side of the Capitol, where Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell will officially become the longest-serving party leader of the chamber in history. New York Democrat Chuck Schumer will remain the majority leader.

Despite being in the minority in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority, McConnell could prove a viable partner as Biden seeks bipartisan victories in the new era of divided government. The two men are expected to appear together later in the week in the GOP leader’s home state of Kentucky to celebrate federal infrastructure investments in a vital bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio.


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