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House adjourns without electing speaker after McCarthy fails to win in three rounds of voting

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House fails to elect speaker amid GOP rift 02:35

The House adjourned Tuesday without picking a new speaker as Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed to win a majority on three ballots – only the eighth time in history a speaker hadn't been chosen after three ballots.  

After the second ballot, McCarthy insisted to reporters that the party is "unified." 

"This isn't about me," McCarthy said. "This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out … they want something for their personal selves."

But McCarthy had lost another Republican on the third round: Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who had pledged to support McCarthy on the first two ballots but not after that — suggesting that he could lose more as the vote could move into further ballots. 

Tuesday's vote marked the first time in 100 years that the House speaker vote went to multiple ballots. 

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy
U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reacts as members cast their votes for Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress on January 3, 2023. Getty Images

Given Republicans' razor-thin majority in the House, McCarthy could only afford to lose four Republican votes. In losing 20 Republican votes, McCarthy not only fell short of the majority needed, he also came up behind Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who received all the Democratic votes. 

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gaveled in the session in her last act as speaker, told reporters after the second round that she had hoped Republicans would unite since they are in the majority, but "that's their problem." 


McCarthy says he won't be driven out of race for speaker; spoke to Trump tonight

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Tuesday night that there's no circumstance that will drive him out of the race for speaker, although it sounded as though he's willing to make further concessions to the Freedom Caucus, if necessary.  

That contradicts his message to the Republican conference Tuesday morning that he was done negotiating. 

"You want to get to 218, you're gonna have to keep talking," he said this evening, after he fell short in his bid to be speaker in three successive rounds of voting. McCarthy added, "I feel actually very good," though he admitted that "today — is it the day I wanted to have? No."

"I think we'll find our way to get there," he said. "And this is a healthy debate. It might not happen on the day we want it, but it's gonna happen." 

McCarthy is continuing to have discussions with the GOP holdouts, though he didn't provide any further details.

He also said he spoke with former President Donald Trump Tuesday evening, and said Trump's view is that "he thinks it's better that all the Republicans get together and solve this. It doesn't look good for Republicans, but we want to be able to solve it where we're stronger in the long run." 

Asked if Trump told McCarthy he wants him to stay in the race, McCarthy replied, "Oh, yeah, I mean, he's talked to a lot of people on all sides." Reporters also questioned him on whether he believes that he needs Trump to reiterate his support.

"Trump has already reiterated support," McCarthy responded.

He is also arguing that he needs a range between 213 and 218 votes to win since Democrats have 212 votes. But a number below 218 would only constitute an absolute majority if some members are absent or vote "present." McCarthy stated that he is not trying to change the rules of the speaker election to require winning by a plurality, rather than a majority. He indicated that if some of the 19 holdouts vote "present," he could win the race.

He told reporters, "Democrats have 212 votes; you get 213 votes, and the others don't say another name. That's how you can win."

By Rebecca Kaplan

Gaetz writes to architect of Capitol to ask why McCarthy is occupying the speaker's office

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's most vocal GOP critics, has written to the architect of the Capitol to inquire about why it is that McCarthy is allowed to occupy the speaker's office, since he has not won the office.

In a letter dated Jan. 3, Gaetz wrote to Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, "What is the basis in law, House rule, or precedent to allow someone who has placed second in three successive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House Office? How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?" He asked Blanton for a speedy response, since "it seems Mr. McCarthy can no longer be considered Speaker-Designate following today's balloting."


House votes to adjourn

Without a speaker, the House voted to adjourn until noon Wednesday. None of the new members were sworn in. 

By Caroline Linton

Third round of voting ends with McCarthy having one less vote

Jordan earned one more vote in the third round of voting than he did in the second, suggesting opposition to McCarthy is not waning as the afternoon fades and the sun sets. 

Jeffries received 212 votes, while McCarthy received 202 and Jordan earned 20. 

With Republicans in a clear stalemate, the path forward isn't clear. 

By Kathryn Watson

Florida Republican switches vote from McCarthy to Jordan on third round

McCarthy lost another vote in the third ballot when GOP Rep. Byron Donalds, of Florida, switched his vote from McCarthy to Jordan. Donalds had pledged to vote for McCarthy on the first two ballots but not after that.  

Donalds is the first Republican to switch his vote from McCarthy to Jordan. The Republicans who voted against McCarthy on the first two ballots appeared to be holding strong and have continued to vote against him, meaning McCarthy is on track to have 20 Republicans vote against him on the third round, up from 19 in the first two rounds. 

Zak Hudak, Caroline Linton, Kathryn Watson 


Jordan continues to rack up votes from Republicans, likely sinking McCarthy's shot at majority in round 3 of voting

The House records representatives' votes in alphabetical order. In round 3 of the speakership vote, by the time the House reached "C" in the alphabet, Jordan had already received six votes from House Republicans — courtesy of Reps. Biggs, Bishop, Boebert, Brecheen, Clyde and Crane. If those votes hold again, it will be enough to tank McCarthy's chances for a third time. 

The Republicans who voted against McCarthy in the first two rounds appear to be voting against him again in the third round.

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy nominated for a third time

Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise nominated McCarthy again, his third nomination, at 4 p.m. ET. Scalise gave a nominating speech for McCarthy urging unity. 

Democrats broke out into chants of "Hakeem!" as Aguilar nominated Jeffries for a third time.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas nominated Jordan again, setting up the third ballot of McCarthy vs. Jeffries vs. Jordan. 

By Caroline Linton

Paul Pelosi says he is "feeling well"

Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told CBS News that he is "feeling well" two months after he was brutally attacked by an assailant in their home with a hammer. He has only been seen in public a few times since the Oct. 29 attack, which left him hospitalized.

Nancy Pelosi gaveled in Tuesday's session, her last act as House speaker. When asked about the Republicans' failure to elect a speaker, Pelosi said "that's their problem." 

She said that they "respect the institution," and she hoped that "out of respect for the institution," Republicans would "resolve their differences because they have the majority." 

By Scott MacFarlane

McCarthy says Republicans are "unified" despite two failed votes

 As the afternoon continued with no resolution, McCarthy told reporters the Republican Party is "unified," despite two failed ballots. 

"We're unified," McCarthy said. "This isn't about me. This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out … they want something for their personal selves."

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy fails in second ballot as Jordan receives all GOP defector votes

 McCarthy yet again failed to receive a sufficient number of votes to be the next speaker, this time with all Republicans who didn't vote for McCarthy voting for Jordan. 

Nineteen Republicans voted for Jordan, the same number of Republican McCarthy detractors as the first round. 

McCarthy received 203 votes, while Jeffries received 213 votes, the same number as the first round. 

It's unclear what the House will move to do next, as the GOP appears to be in an internal stalemate. 

By Kathryn Watson

Republican holdouts will "never back down," says Rep. Bob Good

Republican Rep. Bob Good, of Virginia, who has voted against McCarthy in the first and second rounds, told CBS News the bloc of GOP lawmakers who opposed McCarthy's bid to be speaker will "never back down." So far, in the second round, 19 have cast a vote for Rep. Jim Jordan, rather than McCarthy, thwarting his bid to be House speaker.

Good says Republican holdouts want a "reluctant warrior" to be speaker. Good accurately predicted Rep. Jim Jordan would gain votes on the second ballot. And he is calling on McCarthy to pull out of the race. Good said the "sooner McCarthy pulls out … the better it is for the country."

The GOP faction isn't adding any new dissenting votes on the second ballot, and not all of the holdouts appear to be in negotiations with anyone. Rep. Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, who is among those voting against McCarthy, sat in his chair largely alone during the recent break.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has not betrayed much in his facial expression, beyond a slight smirk as votes go against him among the GOP conference.  He's not looking at – or making eye contact with – the GOP members voting for others for speaker.

By Scott MacFarlane

White House press secretary says Biden "certainly will not insert himself" in speaker race politics

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre's first question during Tuesday's press briefing, which is taking place during the second ballot, said President Biden "certainly will not insert himself" by commenting on the politics of the House vote. 

"Look, as you know, the president served as a U.S. senator for 34 years and he understands how this process works," Jean-Pierre said. "He certainly will not insert himself in this process. We are looking forward to working with congressional colleagues including Democrats, Republicans and independents this year and the new Congress, obviously, to continue to move the country forward for the American people."

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy likely to fail to reach majority on second round, too

McCarthy's chances of winning on the second round diminished, as Rep. Jim Jordan won the support of at least eight Republicans early in the voting. Reps. Biggs, Bishop, Boebert and Gaetz, who nominated Jordan, were among the GOP members voting against McCarthy. 

McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes.

By Kathryn Watson

Gaetz nominates Jim Jordan for next ballot

Rep. Jim Jordan stood to voice support for McCarthy, saying Republicans need to unify. 

But that could have backfired. Rep. Matt Gaetz stood to nominate Jordan, eliciting uproarious support from many of his GOP colleagues. 

If Jordan receives significant GOP support, McCarthy will still fail to secure enough votes on the next ballot. 

By Kathryn Watson

Second round of voting begins

Now that no one has clinched enough votes to become speaker, the House has proceeded to the second round of voting. 

In this round, Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, rose to nominate McCarthy again, and Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan. Jeffries, who had the most votes in the first round, is also running. 

"No matter how many times it takes, Kevin McCarthy," New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said in announcing her vote in the first round, sensing that it could be a long afternoon ahead. 

Ahead of any new votes, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was spotted on the House floor chatting with the very conservative Rep. Paul Gosar. The Congresswoman from New York was also spotted speaking with GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz. 

By Kathryn Watson

19 Rs vote against McCarthy in the first round as Jeffries receives more but not enough votes

Nineteen Republicans voted for someone other than McCarthy in the first round of voting, making it so no nominee reached a majority of votes. McCarthy received 203 votes, while Jeffries received 212.. 

Jeffries received more votes than McCarthy, but still failed to reach a majority of votes, since members did not cross party lines. 

That forces the House to another round of voting. 

By Kathryn Watson

Sources: McCarthy made impassioned plea to GOP during morning conference meeting, saying he's "earned" the speakership

During the House GOP conference meeting before Congress convened, McCarthy raised his voice as he made an impassioned plea to Republicans, telling them he has "earned" the speakership, two sources familiar with the meeting told CBS News.

He also listed all the concessions he has made in trying to win over holdouts. At one point, McCarthy suggested that a vote against him was a vote against the will of the majority of the conference. Later in the meeting, McCarthy allies asked what further concessions he could make to win the votes of Gaetz, Goode and others, and the response was that there were none. 

By Zak Hudak

McCarthy likely not to win majority in first round of voting

McCarthy has lost at least seven votes in the first round so far, almost certainly ensuring he will not win speaker in the first round of voting, unless there are some members who do not vote. The Republicans he lost include Rep. Dan Bishop, Rep. Andy Biggs and Rep. Lauren Boebert. 

Republicans who opposed McCarthy voted for either Rep. Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan or Rep. Jim Banks. Neither Jordan nor Banks was nominated for speaker.

By Kathryn Watson

Andy Biggs nominated for speaker

Republican Rep. Paul Gosar nominated fellow Arizonan Rep. Andy Biggs for speaker. Biggs also ran against McCarthy within the GOP conference in November and won 31 votes to McCarthy's 188. 


"House Democrats are united," Aguilar says as he nominates Jeffries as leader

Rep. Pete Aguilar, now the House Democratic caucus chair, said on the floor that "Democrats are united" around Rep. Hakeem Jeffires, striking a clear contrast between Democrats and Republicans. 

Aguilar said Jeffries "doesn't make excuses" for a "twice-impeached former president," or "bend a knee to anyone who would seek to undermine our democracy," likely a dig at McCarthy. 

"Hakeem's leadership style is quite simple — spread love. It's the Brooklyn way," Aguilar said of the Democratic leader. 

By Kathryn Watson

Stefanik nominates McCarthy to be House speaker

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the GOP conference chair, officially nominated McCarthy to be speaker at 12:35 p.m., to a standing ovation from a vast majority of Republicans.

"No one has worked harder for this Republican majority than Kevin McCarthy," Stefanik said.

She praised him for a winning record for Republicans and said he could build consensus and called him a "proud conservative with a tireless work ethic," to cheers from the majority of the conference.

By Kathryn Watson

Members vote to establish a quorum

Members of the House, new and old, gathered and greeted each other as they voted to establish a quorum in the House chamber. 

The House needed, and established, a quorum in order to move forward with a vote for speaker. The quorum call was established at 434, the total number since the death of Rep. Don McEachin. 

Many members brought their young children with them to the chamber. 

By Kathryn Watson

Pelosi gavels in House for the last time

House And Senate Convene For The 118th Congress On Capitol Hill
Outgoing U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her gavel as she arrives for the start of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.  / Getty Images

In her last act as House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi gaveled in the start of the session to a standing ovation. Pelosi will still be representing her district, but she declined to seek a leadership role in the 118th Congress. The move the way for a new generation of Democrats to take over, led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. 

Her husband, Paul Pelosi, is in the chamber to watch the proceedings, according to CBS News reporter Scott MacFarlane

By Caroline Linton

McCarthy says he won't be held hostage by Freedom Caucus

Republicans emerged from their 9:30 a.m. conference meeting with both sides adhering to their positions just before the new Congress convenes. McCarthy told reporters afterward that the meeting was "intense," but that he wouldn't be held hostage by the Freedom Caucus and said he was prepared for a battle on the House floor.

"There's times we're going to have to argue with our own members, if they're looking at — for only positions for themselves, not for the country," McCarthy said. He added that over the last two months Republicans had been working to develop rules that empower all members of Congress, "but we're not empowering certain members over others."

He also said of the proposal from far-right Freedom Caucus members, "I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves. So, we may have a battle on the floor. But the battle is for the conference in the country, and that's fine."

Gaetz reiterated his opposition, saying, "Everything I heard hardened my resolve that this town desperately needs change. And if it's a few of us who have to stand in the breach to force it, we are willing to do so for as long as it takes."

McCarthy told reporters before heading to the House floor that he's "not going anywhere" when asked if he would stay in the race. "We did have an intense conference and it's intense for a purpose," McCarthy said. "We have worked for a long time." 

McCarthy said that last night he was presented with an opportunity to get to 218 by a group of Republicans "if I provided certain members with certain positions, certain gavels to take over certain committees to have certain budgets."

"Well, that's not about America, and I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves," McCarthy said. "We may have a battle on the floor.  But the battle is for the conference and the country, and that's fine with me."

Rebecca Kaplan, John Nolen


What's the big deal about this race?

Aside from the president, the House speaker is arguably the most powerful figure in the United States government. The speaker also is next in line to the presidency after the vice president.

Any Republican House speaker will be in a position to block or negotiate key legislation, particularly useful for Republicans with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Democrat in the White House. 

The House speaker controls the legislative agenda, determining whether a bill makes it to the floor or dies before a vote can be taken. 

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy says it's going to be a "good day"

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a GOP conference meeting around 9:30 a.m.

"We are going to have a good day today," he told reporters when asked if he has the votes to be the next speaker. 

McCarthy also laughed when reporters asked if he'd back GOP Rep. Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, for speaker if he fails to secure the necessary votes. 

By Kathryn Watson

What McCarthy needs to win

To win the speaker's office, McCarthy must secure the majority of votes, which means he could win with fewer than 218 votes if some members vote "present" or are absent. 

It remains to be seen whether some Republicans will simply choose to vote "present" or stay away from the Capitol entirely to allow McCarthy to win without their support. 

Meanwhile, Democrats are expected to cast their support behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, voted to be the top House Democrat by the Democratic Caucus last month. 

McCarthy won the GOP nominee for the speaker's race last month, defeating Biggs with 188 votes. Thirty-one Republicans voted for Biggs. 

By Kathryn Watson
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