Three times in a row, three days in a row, Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has come up short in his quest to achieve the 218 votes needed to secure the House Speakership.
Rep.-elect Troy Nehls (R-TX), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, nominated McCarthy in round nine of voting—a significant choice since many of the 20 resistant House Republicans who have refused to vote for McCarthy are Freedom Caucus members.
“I believe this battle we are raging must end,” he asserted. He noted that McCarthy had made changes to the House Rules at the request of his fellow Republicans, including the motion to vacate the chair, which is essentially a call for a vote of “no confidence” against the Speaker to have him or her ousted.
Currently the motion to vacate requires a majority vote from the Speaker’s party. After negotiations Wednesday night, McCarthy has reportedly agreed to let just one Representative be allowed to call a motion to vacate.
“The motion to vacate the chair that has not been offered for a floor vote in over 100 years,” said Nehls. “Kevin has reinstated the motion to vacate the chair, which I believe was the right thing to do.”
On behalf of the Democrats, Rep.-elect Ted Lieu (D-CA) nominated Hakeem Jeffries (D-CA) for a ninth time for Speaker of the House.
“Democrats are unified…while Republicans are mired in their own leadership crisis,” he said, adding, “Democrats are ready, willing and able to get ready to work for the American people. We will do so under Hakeem Jeffries, who has a plan for the America people.”
Then Rep.-elect Matt Rosendale (R-MT) nominated Rep.-elect Byron Donalds for a sixth consecutive round as McCarthy’s spoiler.
He criticized how “broken” the system has become, saying, “Unfortunately over the past 15 years, the process that we use has been dramatically broken. The voices that were sent here to equally represent each of the 435 districts across this nation have become diminished” into the hands of the Speaker and the few who serve on the Rules Committee.
“That is not equal representation that is guaranteed by our Constitution and expected by our constituents.”
He received a bang from House Clerk Cheryl Johnson’s gavel when he referred to “Maxine” in his remarks—presumably Rep.-elect Maxine Waters (D-CA)—since the Reps.-elect were all told at the convening of House at noon not to direct their remarks toward any specific person but toward the Chair.
(Waters got the gavel herself when, after voting for Jeffries, she turned around and began wagging her finger and scolding Rosendale.)
A second spoiler nominee was then submitted—Rep.-elect Kevin Hern (R-OK)—who was nominated by Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who had voted for him in the eighth round.
“It’s time to get going. Many of you have said it. You see that Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes,” she asserted, adding, “This isn’t chaos, this is a constitutional republic at work. I’m a mom of four boys; I know what chaos and disfunction looks like. This is actually a really beautiful thing to be here with all of my colleagues debating.”
Donalds won 17 votes in round nine while McCarthy won 200 votes, one fewer than he had in the five previous rounds. That’s because Ken Buck (R-CO) did not vote in the ninth round. According to Fox News reporter Chad Pergram, he is traveling to a medical appointment.
Boebert again voted for Hern, as did Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen (R-OK), who had also voted for Hern in round nine. Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who had voted for former President Trump in Thursday’s two previous rounds, also voted for Hern in round nine. Hern himself voted for McCarthy.
Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted “present” for a sixth consecutive round.
Meanwhile, for the ninth round in a row, all 212 House Democrats voted for Jeffries for Speaker of the House.
CNN reporter Manu Raju noted on Twitter during the ninth round, “When [the vote for Speaker] gets to 10th ballot, this will be the longest speaker’s race since 1859 when it went to 44 ballots.”
The longest the vote for Speaker has ever taken was 1855, when 133 ballots took place over a span of two months.