McCarthy denied Speakership thrice, detractors force recess on House’s first day

Kevin McCarthy’s Speakership hopes are up-in-the-air after three unsuccessful ballots on Tuesday, the first time of multiple voting in 100 years.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) headed into the opening day of the 118th Congress with a singular, if monumental, goal: stave off five of his Republican colleagues from defecting during leadership votes to ensure an orderly ascension.

Instead, he got the opposite, with the first multi-ballot voting for Speaker in 100 years ending Tuesday night unresolved and the House Republican Conference trying to stave off continued chaos.


Go Deeper: McCarthy faced significant headwinds at the hands of a small subset of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. However, the number of members voting against him over three ballots widened to include:

  • Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.)
  • Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)
  • Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen (Okla.)
  • Rep. Michael Cloud (Texas)
  • Rep. Eli Crane (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)
  • Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.) [Voted for McCarthy in the first and second ballots]
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.)
  • Rep. Bob Good (Va.)
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Andy Harris (Md.)
  • Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.)
  • Rep. Mary Miller (Ill.)
  • Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.)
  • Rep.-elect Andy Ogles (Tenn.)
  • Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.)
  • Rep. Chip Roy (Texas)
  • Rep.-elect Keith Self (Texas)

What they’re saying: “The reality is Rep. Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have the votes. I committed my support to him publicly and for two votes on the House Floor. 218 is the number, and currently, no one is there. Our conference needs to recess and huddle and find someone or work out the next steps,but these continuous votes aren’t working for anyone. When the dust settles, we will have a Republican Speaker, now is the time for our conference to debate and come to a consensus,” said Donalds, whose defection amid the third ballot to support Jim Jordan caught many off guard.

Go Local: Unsurprisingly, McCarthy had lock-step support from his two GOP neighbors in the San Joaquin Valley – Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) and Rep-Elect. John Duarte (R–Modesto), along with all other California Republicans.

Amid the chaos of the first ballot, however, his other neighbor – Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) – began floating the idea of negotiating a coalition government and Speakership in conversation with select moderate Republicans.

What’s next? Rep. Tom Cole (R–Okla.) pushed to adjourn the House on Tuesday evening following the third ballot, enabling McCarthy and the GOP Conference to determine paths forward, including potential continued negotiations with House Freedom Caucus members.

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