Kevin McCarthy Fails In 8th Vote To Win House Speaker

January 5, 2023

For the second time Thursday, and for the eighth time in three days, Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed in his pursuit of the necessary 218 votes required to obtain the House Speakership.

Brian Mast (R-FL) was the Rep.-elect who nominated McCarthy in the eighth round. He began his floor speech by saying he shared the same fear as many of his colleagues, “That we squander this opportunity…That America gave us this chance to change our course and that we fail. I have that fear.”

He received his first of three standing ovations when he referenced the sacrifice made by “our brothers and sisters in arms”—and the fear that he and his colleagues were squandering that, as well.

Adding a little variety into Democrats’ mix, Rep.-elect Katherine Clark (D-MA) took over from Rep.-elect Pete Aguilar (D-CA) to nominate Rep.-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

She began by recapping Jeffries’ vote tally in the first seven ballots—unanimous support from his party—repeating seven times, “Two hundred and twelve,” then adding, “Two hundred and twelve House Democrats stand united behind our House leader, because Hakeem Jeffries stands united for the American people.”  

Clark went on, blasting the House Republicans, “This historic disfunction that we are seeing…is imperiling our national security. It will imperil this government to deliver basic services.”

Her speech ended with a standing ovation from House Democrats and a hug from Jeffries.

And then Andy Biggs (R-AZ) nominated Byron Donalds (R-FL) as McCarthy’s spoiler for a fifth time.

“I think it’s incredibly healthy actually for the American people to see that we’re on the floor,” he insisted. He added that despite Republicans’ infighting, “When this is over and done with, I know which side of the aisle is going to be laughing, and it’s going to be the side that is unified in taking on the issues that Americans care about.” 

Donalds received 17 votes in round eight while McCarthy received 201 votes, the same as he had in the four previous rounds. 

Rep.-elects Lauren Boebert (R-OK) and Josh Brecheen (R-OK) both voted for Rep.-elect Kevin Hern (R-OK). And for a second round in a row, Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) voted for former President Trump.

Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted “present” for a fifth consecutive round. 

Holding steady, all 212 House Democrats voted for Jeffries.

Just before 3pm Eastern Time reporter Manu Raju of CNN asked McCarthy why he “can’t pick off” any of the 20 resistant House Republicans.

“It’s all going to be this way until an agreement comes,” McCarthy told Raju.

When Raju asked McCarthy, at what point will he “make a realization that the outcome won’t change,” McCarthy replied, “After I win.”

The Constitution requires that the House elect a Speaker, and the vote takes priority over all other business. No other House business can begin until the Speakership is resolved.

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