For a third consecutive day, a bloc of ultraconservative bomb throwers denied GOP leader Kevin McCarthy the speaker’s gavel Thursday, even after he caved on a set of concessions the right-wing Republicans were demanding.
After losing eight consecutive vote for speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, has offered new concessions to try to win House speaker.
To win, a member must receive the majority of votes cast for a person, not counting “present” votes. The Constitution specifies that House members choose the speaker, but the speaker does not have to be a current or even a former representative.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California on Thursday lost a seventh vote for the speakership, even after offering fresh concessions to a hard-right band of G.O.P. rebels in a desperate effort to lockdown the votes in the House, leaving the chamber deadlocked for a third day at the start of the Republican rule.
After losing a half-dozen consecutive votes in two humiliating days, Mr. McCarthy by Thursday had privately agreed to more demands from the right-wing dissidents, embracing measures that would weaken the speakership considerably and that he had previously refused to countenance.
One would allow a single lawmaker to force a snap vote to oust the speaker, according to three people familiar with the negotiations who described them on the condition of anonymity, noting that they were ongoing and that no deal had been reached.
But the latest vote indicated that the concessions had not been enough to corral the votes he needed to prevail. Until a speaker is chosen, the House is essentially paralyzed. It cannot pass laws or even swear in its members.
The thin Republican majority in the chamber means almost all of the party’s members must agree on a speaker. If all members of the House are voting and participating, the winner needs 218 votes. Republicans control 222 seats. On Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy drew at most 203 votes. On Wednesday, his total slipped to 201, where it remained on Thursday.
McCarthy’s maneuvering for the speakership has grown increasingly frantic, prompting him to agree to conditions that he has ruled out in the past. He committed to allowing the right-wing faction to handpick a third of the party’s members on the powerful Rules Committee, which controls what legislation reaches the floor and in what form, according to one person who has been involved in the talks, as well as to opening spending bills to a freewheeling debate in which any lawmaker could force a vote on proposed changes, including those designed to scuttle or sink the measure.
Far-right Republicans have lined up by turns behind candidates including, on Tuesday, Jim Jordan, who voted for Mr. McCarthy; and, on Wednesday and Thursday, Byron Donalds, the party’s first Black nominee for speaker. The lawmakers do not expect their candidates to win but wish to register their displeasure with Mr. McCarthy.
The Democrats are united behind their leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who earned the most votes, 212, on all six ballots but will almost certainly not win because his party controls only 212 seats, short of the majority required.
It was the first time in a century that the House has failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote. House precedent dictates that members continue to take successive votes until someone secures the majority to prevail.
Nancy Pelosi, who closed out her own tenure as speaker on Tuesday, described the repeated failed votes for a new speaker as “insanity, doing the same thing over and over again with no change,” as she entered the chamber.
Hern, newly introduced to the speaker ballot for the first time in the eighth round, cast his vote for McCarthy. This isn’t without precedent. Jim Jordan of Ohio has supported McCarthy, nominating him on the floor at one point, even as the holdouts voted for Jordan repeatedly on the first day.
Buck said: “If there’s a deal and you know, 10 of the 20 move, I think that people stay with him. If there’s no deal and we have another vote of 20, I think people are going to start (defecting).” Buck added: “Including me.”
“There is a point in time that Kevin is going to lose credibility because he can’t make this deal.”