Rep. Kevin McCarthy entered the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon hoping to win votes to become speaker. know that he doesn’t have them.
When he left five hours later, McCarthy still has no votes. And his apparent plan to win by calling the hoaxes of a small group of detractors has just revealed a fundamental truth about McCarthy: he doesn’t hold the winning hand.
In fact, by three votes, McCarthy has lost support.
After adjourning after Tuesday’s vote, the House of Commons will reconvene at noon tomorrow. Faced with the fact that they may never change his opposition, McCarthy and his allies are now trying to come up with a plan B to rescue his speaker hopes. .
The choices that initially formed Tuesday night at the Capitol didn’t look promising—and some of them would be unprecedented in the modern history of the House.
When asked how McCarthy was able to win over most of the 20 Republicans who opposed his proposal, Representative Don Bacon (R-NE) —calling them the “Taliban 20″ — said yes ” a few tricks up our sleeve.”
“But we’re not there yet,” he continued.
Bacon, who was a member of the “Only Kevin” faction on the convention, also hinted to reporters that the California Republican Party may have to woo Democratic lawmakers to get the 218 votes needed to get the job done. become Speakers, by asking them to appoint improved committees. .
Democrats, who are united in support of Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), have so far dismissed any talk of playing ball and helping elect McCarthy. And when Jeffries was asked Tuesday night if Democrats would consider endorsing a Republican for the speaker position, he said Democrats were looking for “an opponent.” is willing to solve the problems for the American people, not save the Republican Party from their dysfunction.”
If the Democrats aren’t interested in rescuing McCarthy — or any other Republican, for that matter — the Republicans will somehow have to find a solution in their own convention. surname.
On Tuesday night, Bloomberg News reported that members appeared to be discussing the possibility of negotiating subcommittee chair positions in exchange for votes. And McCarthy remains open to more concessions, after making concessions on things like the threshold for vacating motion to remove a speaker and reinstate the so-called Holman Rule, which allows the House to fire or even reduce the wages of specific federal government employees.
Both Bacon and Representative Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), another McCarthy supporter, seem to harbor hope that external pressure from influential conservatives might shake at least some of the diggers. pipe.
“We’ll see what happens when Tucker, Sean Hannity and Ben Shapiro start attacking these guys,” said Reschenthaler. told Punchbowl News. “Maybe that will move it.” (Tucker Carlson later attacked McCarthy at length on his show Tuesday night.)
Hoping for help from Hakeem Jeffries, Sean Hannity and Ben Shapiro is not where McCarthy wants to be on Tuesday night. He also may not get any more help from the person he’s staked his political fortune on for years: Donald Trump.
Based on NBC NewsTrump — despite receiving calls to intervene on McCarthy’s behalf on Tuesday — is declining to say whether he supports McCarthy as a speaker.
“We’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it goes,” Trump told NBC. McCarthy then told reporters that he spoke to Trump and that the former president offered to support him.
Despite being billed as the GOP’s Spokesman-in-waiting for years — and facing no particular credible opponent — McCarthy is now firmly established, with his party and the entire House numb. until the leadership drama is resolved.
One of McCarthy’s earliest and most vocal supporters, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), told reporters Tuesday night that McCarthy never got the vote — and why it will. no change tomorrow afternoon. In an effort to win the support of his detractors, McCarthy agreed to most of their demands.
Many Republicans believe that fact is not enough, as proof that hardliners would never vote for McCarthy just because they don’t want to and they don’t like him.
“As for you to question me, the votes he hasn’t gotten in over a decade, that he hasn’t been able to pass in the past few weeks — you think he’ll get them only after one night?” Gaetz told reporters. “That’s a silly question.”
But McCarthy will still try. Shortly after the session paused on Tuesday night, Republicans began another round of negotiations and intense meetings.
McCarthy’s allies entered the evening with bones to pick up, insisting his detractors did not negotiate in good faith. The long list of demands made by ultra-conservative members, including a push for a rule innovation that would allow any member with voting power to remove speakers, has only been met. a part.
However, that was more than wanting to give up in the first place.
“There was anger because we negotiated in good faith and gave more than we wanted,” Bacon said.
“I think you’ve got some people who aren’t good-willed negotiators. They asked for a lot of things. Some of them may not be interested in actually cutting the deal,” said Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD).
Neither side seems willing to make more concessions. Bacon said that McCarthy’s concessions — such as having five members force a vote to remove Speaker — should be removed from the table, as the change-requesters did not give the vote in return. But withdrawing those offers would give the anti-McCarthy faction even less reason to consider voting for him, when the reasons to vote for McCarthy have dried up.
One consideration that complicates the negotiations is that members who voted against McCarthy now worry that they may face retribution for their vote — a possibility that has only been strengthened. on Tuesday when Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL) allegedly threatened in an internal meeting that anyone who voted against McCarthy was barred from serving on the committees.
And when Rogers was pressed about those comments late Tuesday, he didn’t do anything for himself or McCarthy. “I don’t threaten them; I promised them and that’s the difference,” he said NBC.
After Tuesday’s long and arduous rounds of voting, there was a feeling among Republicans that many of these Never Kevin members might in fact never be willing to change their votes on policy alone. . The problem for some seems more personal—seeing McCarthy as an old-fashioned relic and embodiment of the status quo GOP leadership.
Simply put, some Republicans don’t like he. There are serious doubts as to whether McCarthy could really do anything to change that element of his situation.
Sure, it only took five Republicans to block McCarthy from the tussle, barring any Democrat from collaborating with the Republican Party to gain 218 votes. Several reporters tweeted suggesting that Democrats — bored or disengaged — could start missing future Speaker votes. But there is no indication that the Democrats will help the Republican Party through this embarrassment.
While these votes are equally time-consuming for Democrats, who must be present to maintain the maximum threshold for McCarthy to win, there is little political incentive for the parties to win. Democrats do everything. Some told The Daily Beast they don’t plan to miss the vote and make things easier for McCarthy.
Members on both sides of the aisle cannot do anything—be it legislating, investigating, or starting work on committees—until the speaker vote is complete. For Democrats, that means an opportunity to delay Republican priorities in their nascent majority, even if only for a few days.
And although some Republicans have offered fear-mongering tactical scenarios of Democrats working with Republicans to find some kind of unity candidate — such as a middle-class members of either party — the probability is still very small. No serious name has been given to a compromise candidate.
“I think anyone who is imagining some sort of unifying or unifying approach, is probably paying more attention to Aaron Sorkin’s movies than to how the place normally works,” said Johnson, Republican. South Dakota, told reporters on Tuesday.
There’s also the lack of an obvious second candidate for McCarthy—at least, one openly desirous of the job. And while it may appear that moving the second ballot to Jordan is strategic, the Ohio congressman insists he supports McCarthy. He voted for him every voting Tuesday.
Other names floating — like Congressmen Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — are also falling. When the cast adjourned, McHenry simply said that he was only “interested in getting Kevin McCarthy over the edge.”
Regardless of McCarthy’s eventual fate, this day marks a historically difficult start to the 118th Congress. Normally, the first day of a new term is fraught with pomp and circumstance. Members get coveted photos with their families next to the Speaker, shaking hands as they are officially sworn in. Every session since 1923, the Speaker has been elected on the first ballot, making the first day usually the coronation and celebration of the party leader.
But for Republicans, Tuesday is a knife fight. And it featured the unusually harsh personal threats and attacks hurled among Republicans. The intense divisions revealed in this leadership battle raise the question of how McCarthy—and the GOP House of Representatives—can recover, even if he ultimately wins.
Bacon said McCarthy can come out of this battle stronger not because he will unify the party, but because he will be the “first to stand up” against a small faction that has terrorized the broad convention. larger for many years.
“From a courtesy point of view, we got 91 per cent of the vote,” he said. “If you’re nine percent, you say, okay, you know what, we’re part of a team, we’ll come together. They made a lot, that nine percent… they should be happy, but they’re not going to take that as a win.”