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House adjourns without resolving speaker election after McCarthy loses on 6th ballot

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Divided GOP fails to elect speaker after sixth round 02:38

The House of Representatives adjourned for a second day without electing a House speaker, after Rep. Kevin McCarthy fell short on three more ballots, failing to win a majority of support in the House. The House will reconvene on Thursday at noon.

After meeting behind closed doors Wednesday night with some detractors for nearly three hours, McCarthy told reporters he didn't believe another vote tonight would deliver a different outcome.

"I think it's probably best that people work through some more," he said. "I don't think a vote tonight does any difference, but I think a vote in the future will."

McCarthy said progress was made in negotiations with the Republicans opposing his bid for speaker.

Little changed on Wednesday – except McCarthy lost one more vote, a Republican who switched from supporting him to "present." McCarthy had suggested Tuesday night that he might prevail with a lower majority, and if some of the 19 holdouts were to vote "present," he could win – but it's unlikely he wanted to lose a vote.

Democrats remained united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, as he remained strong with all 212 Democratic votes on all six ballots.  

House Continues Voting For New Speaker After Three Failed Attempts
U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens in the House Chamber during the second day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 04, 2023 in Washington, DC.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

The GOP breakaway faction on Wednesday nominated Republican, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, instead of Rep. Jim Jordan – who had voted for McCarthy and has said he wasn't seeking the speakership. With the Democrats having nominated Hakeem Jeffries, it marked the first time in history two Black men were nominated to be speaker of the House. 

Republicans in their nominating speeches appealed to their members to unify and back McCarthy. GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Indiana was up first, saying he was "proud" to be a member of a party that invites debate and acknowledged the frustrations from a faction of the Republican conference. 

Divided GOP fails to elect speaker after sixth round 02:38

Former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social on Wednesday morning to try to sway the rebel Republicans toward McCarthy, writing that "it's now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL." Former Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted his support for McCarthy.

Although this was the first time in roughly 100 years it's taken more than one ballot to vote in a new speaker, this delay is far from unprecedented. In 1855, the House took four months to select a new speaker. 

The House cannot conduct any business until a new speaker is elected by a majority of members.


McCarthy still not dropping out, several Republicans say

McCarthy allies are telling colleagues that his meeting tonight with his critics was an airing of grievances that wasn't a disaster. Many issues remain unresolved, but the huddles in House Majority Whip Tom Emmer's office have at least been sustained conversations. McCarthy is not dropping out and still sees a path to the speakership, several House Republicans say.

The view among some on the GOP side tonight is that the group of McCarthy critics is not a monolith, and while Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert and a few others might never vote "aye" on McCarthy, promises regarding the handling of primaries and House committees could nudge the opposition a bit. They say that the talks need time unfold, however.

Part of the reason the House GOP leaders wanted to adjourn tonight is that they feel they're making progress with some House Freedom Caucus members on a possible set of parameters that might coax some of the critics to vote "aye" — or at least present, which would lower the threshold needed by McCarthy to prevail in the speaker election. They want to give the Freedom Caucus members time to think through Wednesday night's talks.

By Robert Costa

House votes to adjourn until Thursday

Shortly after the House reconvened, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma made a motion for the House to adjourn until 12 p.m. Thursday. Democrats were urged to vote "no" on the motion to adjourn, according to a notice from Democratic Whip Katherine Clark.

Amid shouts of "aye" and "no" from members on the floor, Rep. Pete Aguilar asked for a roll call vote.

The motion passed 216 to 214. All Democrats and four Republicans — Reps. Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Eli Crane and Matt Gaetz — opposed the request to adjourn until Thursday.

"This House stands adjourned until noon tomorrow," the House clerk said.

By Melissa Quinn

McCarthy says he doesn't think another speaker vote Wednesday is "productive"

After meeting behind closed doors with some of his detractors for nearly three hours, McCarthy told reporters he does not believe another vote Wednesday, which would be the seventh round,  will result in a different outcome.

"I think it's probably best that people work through some more," he said. "I don't think a vote tonight does any difference, but I think a vote in the future will."

The California Republican said progress was made in negotiations with the Republicans opposing his bid for speaker, but does not believe another round of voting Wednesday night is "productive."

Stepping out of the meeting with McCarthy and his allies, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, two staunch opponents of McCarthy, told reporters that their resistance to his bid has only been reinforced.

"Look, he's a desperate guy whose vote share is dropping with every subsequent vote, and I'm ready to vote all night, all week, all month and never for that person," Gaetz said.

Boebert, meanwhile, predicted "increased opposition" to McCarthy and said she will firmly remain opposed to his nomination.

"You cannot negotiate in a lack of trust. There is no trust," she said.

The House is set to reconvene at 8 p.m. after adjourning just before 5 p.m. 

—Melissa Quinn, Ellis Kim


Rep. Byron Donalds on the House speaker's race and why he took on Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Byron Donalds on the House speaker's race and why he took on Kevin McCarthy 05:43

Florida Republican Congressman Byron Donalds won 20 votes in the race for House speaker as Kevin McCarthy failed again to secure a majority. Donalds joined CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion to discuss the divisions within the party and when he thinks the dispute over leadership will be resolved.


McCarthy attending conference meeting, McHenry says

Republican negotiators are meeting while the House is adjourned. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina confirmed to CBS News that McCarthy is attending the meeting.

When Rep. Matt Gaetz, a key leader of the rebel Republicans, was asked if there was a candidate he liked and could get to 218, he said, he knows "who can't get 218: Kevin McCarthy." 

Some of the Republican members who attended: 

  • Lauren Boebert
  • Byron Donalds
  • Matt Gaetz
  • Jim Jordan
  • Tim Burchett
  • Chip Roy
  • Brian Fitzpatrick
  • Thomas Massie
  • Andrew Clyde
  • Scott Perry 
  • Tom Emmer
  • Bruce Westerman
  • Chris Smith
  • Patrick McHenry

Ellis Kim and Caroline Linton


House adjourns until 8 p.m.

After the House clerk again said after the sixth round of voting that a "speaker has not been elected," GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma motioned for the House to adjourn to 8 p.m.

The motion was adopted by voice vote, and the House now stands adjourned until 8 p.m.

By Melissa Quinn

McCarthy and other candidates all fail to secure enough votes in sixth round

 A sixth round of voting ended without the election of a speaker. Jeffries earned 212 votes, to McCarthy's 201 and Donalds' 20. Rep. Victoria Spartz voted "present." 

It's unclear whether the House will do another round of votes next, or have enough votes to adjourn so they can negotiate their next moves. 

Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado still voted for McCarthy in this round, even though he said he might not. 

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy on verge of failure in sixth round of voting

In the sixth round of voting, McCarthy is again poised to fail to obtain enough votes to become the next speaker, with no apparent change in his detractors' opposition.

By the time the House reached the members whose names begin with "L," Donalds had already secured 12 votes, with more expected to come. McCarthy can only lose four GOP votes, if all members are in the chamber and casting a yes or no vote.

McCarthy's failure to win a majority of votes ensures that a seventh round of voting will take place. 

By Kathryn Watson

Speaker contest heads to sixth vote

After the House clerk read aloud the vote tally from the fifth ballot and declared that a speaker has not yet been elected, Republican Kat Cammack of Florida rose to nominate McCarthy.

Cammack, who served as deputy chief of staff to her predecessor, former Rep. Ted Yoho, began her remarks noting "It's Groundhog Day. Again," and addressed her comments to the American people rather than those in the House chamber.

"We will get this right. No matter how messy this process is, we will emerge better," she said.

Cammack said lawmakers' constituents "didn't send us to be perpetual critics. They sent us to get things done," and said Republicans must commit to "unity."

"I understand the lack of trust among some of our colleagues, but what I am asking, what I am asking is that we all trust the American people who sent our colleagues here," she said. "The people have overwhelmingly voted for Kevin McCarthy."

As part of her appeal for unity, Cammack said Democrats "want us to fight each other. That much has been made clear by the popcorn and blankets and alcohol that is coming over there." Her suggestion that Democrats have been consuming alcohol during the proceeding earned jeers and boos. 

Following Cammack's remarks, Aguilar nominated Jeffries for the sixth time, arguing he has  a solid track record of legislative achievements. 

Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry, head of the House Freedom Caucus, nominated Donalds for the third time and said members could make history by electing him as the first Black Republican speaker.

"Washington is broken," he said. "Byron Donalds will inspire us."

By Melissa Quinn

Ken Buck says Steve Scalise needs to consider stepping up

Republican Rep.-elect Ken Buck of Colorado said on CNN that the fifth ballot was his final guaranteed vote for McCarthy, and his vote is now open. McCarthy, Buck said, needs to seriously consider stepping aside. 

Buck said Rep.-elect Steve Scalise needs to consider stepping up instead. 

In the next two or three ballot rounds, Buck said he believes Republicans will be "frayed" enough that they'll have to consider other candidates. 

Asked if he would vote for McCarthy a sixth time, Buck said, "Stay tuned."

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy again falls short of speaker's gavel on fifth attempt

On the fifth ballot to be elected speaker, no candidate again secured a simple majority of the votes.

Mirroring the results of the prior round of voting, McCarthy garnered 201 votes to Jeffries' 212, while Donalds again won 20 votes. Spartz again voted "present."

The same 20 Republican members who backed Donalds in the fourth round of voting supported him in the fifth. 

In a notice to Democrats, whip Katherine Clark's office advised that "another vote is expected after the official vote from the 5th Manual Roll Call vote is tallied," and reminded members to remain on the House floor.

By Melissa Quinn

Democratic whip advises Democrats to stay in town until a speaker is elected

 The House Democratic whip, Rep.-elect Katherine Clark, advised Democratic members that they should be prepared to stay in Washington, D.C., until a speaker is elected. 

"Members are advised that they should be prepared to stay in Washington, D.C. until a speaker is elected," her advisory said. "Additional information about the vote schedule will be announced as soon as it becomes available."

Clarked advised members to stay on the floor until they're told to do otherwise, and told members to let her office know immediately if they expect to be absent at all. 

If Democrats leave the area, McCarthy could win by default. He doesn't need a majority of the House behind him — he only needs a majority of members voting. 

By Kathryn Watson

McCarthy poised to lose fifth time

As the House continues its fifth vote for speaker in two days, McCarthy has already lost enough Republican votes to fail on the fifth ballot. By the time the House reached the letter "G," Donalds had already received 10 votes, enough to tank McCarthy's chances.

It's unclear what Republicans will do following yet another seemingly failed attempt to elect a speaker. GOP Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz expressed that she wants the conference to convene to determine a path forward, rather than continue voting with the same outcome. 

By Kathryn Watson

House begins fifth ballot in race for speaker's gavel

Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio nominated McCarthy following the House clerk declaring that "a speaker has not been elected" after counting the fourth ballots. 

"I plead with all, all of my Republican colleagues, let cooler, more rational heads prevail," Davidson said in his nominating speech. "Let us unite as Republicans to elect the next speaker of the House."

The Ohio Republican encouraged his GOP colleagues to come together and wield the majority they gained after the November midterm elections and noted that most of his fellow members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus support McCarthy.

"A majority is only a majority if we actually work together," he said.

Davidson also highlighted the proposals put forth by some of McCarthy's 20 detractors that have been agreed to by the Republican leader and said he "led the Congress to adopt substantive reforms that will make our majority more effective."

"We as Republicans are a big and diverse conference. The real question goes back to strategy," Davidson said. "Can we accept incremental progress? Can we work for a victory, one first down at a time, or can we only accept the high-risk trick plays?"

He warned that Republicans "risk a worse outcome if we do not unite behind a man" who helped GOP lawmakers achieve reforms to the House rules.

"Can we take a win every now and then and give hope to the forgotten men and women in America who no longer believe this place, this people's house, cares about them?" Davidson said.

Davidson ended his speech to raucous applause from McCarthy's backers.

Aguliar then again nominated Jeffries for speaker, while GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado nominated Donalds again.

In a nominating speech, Boebert questioned whether the concessions agreed to by McCarthy would hold and suggested it should have been Republican leadership who sought to reform the House rules to give more voice to rank-and-file members.

"Why didn't the supposed leader of the Republican Party present these rules? Why were we fought so hard on these rules?" she said. "The barrier that still stands in the way of these rules is the structure that prevents us from rolling over."

Boebert said the job of GOP lawmakers is "not to coronate the biggest fundraiser or rubber stamp the status quo."

The Colorado Republican said she and the others who have opposed McCarthy received calls from Trump pressuring them to support the GOP House leader.

"The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that 'Sir, you do not have the votes, and it's time to withdraw,'" Boebert concluded.

By Melissa Quinn

Spartz says she voted "present" because Republicans need to determine a path forward

Rep-elect Victoria Spartz of Indiana, the one Republican who switched her vote from McCarthy to "present," told CBS News her vote wasn't anti-McCarthy. But rather, she thinks Republicans need to return to their conference meeting room and figure out a path forward. 

Spartz said she informed McCarthy ahead of time of her plan to vote "present." 

By Rebecca Kaplan

No candidate wins in fourth ballot round, as McCarthy loses one more vote to "present"

McCarthy and other candidates failed to receive a majority of votes yet again in the first round of votes Wednesday but the fourth round of votes since the election began Tuesday. 

McCarthy lost 20 Republicans, and one additional Republican, Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz, voted present. She had previously voted for McCarthy. 

Jeffries received 212 votes, to McCarthy's 201, meaning that for the second day in a row, the minority party's nominee received more votes than the majority party's nominee. 

The House is likely headed to a fifth round of voting, although it's unclear what will change between now and then, or what McCarthy's strategy is. 

Here are the Republicans who voted for Donalds instead of McCarthy: 

  • Andy Biggs of Arizona
  • Dan Bishop of North Carolina
  • Lauren Boebert of Colorado
  • Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma
  • Michael Cloud of Texas
  • Andrew Clyde of Georgia
  • Elijah Crane of Arizona
  • Byron Donalds of Florida
  • Matt Gaetz of Florida
  • Bob Good of Virginia
  • Paul Gosar of Arizona
  • Andy Harris of Maryland
  • Anna Paulina Luna of Florida
  • Mary Miller of Illinois
  • Ralph Norman of South Carolina
  • Andrew Ogles of Tennessee
  • Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
  • Matthew Rosendale of Montana
  • Chip Roy of Texas
  • Keith Self of Texas
By Kathryn Watson

Donalds clinches enough votes for McCarthy to likely fall short a fourth time

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds, the GOP alternate for McCarthy opponents, has obtained a sufficient number of votes for McCarthy to lose the speakership ballot for the fourth time in 24 hours. Donalds had already reached seven votes by the time the House, which is voting alphabetically, reached "D."

So far, McCarthy has failed to flip a single of his detractors. 

By Kathryn Watson

House moves toward fourth vote for House speaker with McCarthy, Jeffries nominated again

Shortly after the House convened Wednesday at noon, Rep. Mike Gallagher of Indiana nominated McCarthy for House speaker, paving the way for a fourth round of voting to begin. After the nomination was announced, applause broke out in the House chamber from McCarthy's allies.

In remarks, Gallagher said he recognized his colleagues are getting "frustrated" but added "there's no place I'd rather be." 

"My friends on the Democratic side misunderstand what's happening here. Sure, it looks messy, but democracy is messy, democracy is messy by design," he said. "That's a feature, not a bug of our system."

Gallagher said he is "proud" to be a member of a party that invites debate and acknowledged the frustrations from a faction of the Republica conference. 

But he said McCarthy has gone "above and beyond" in listening to their concerns, putting forth a plan for the House and helping Republicans to secure the majority.

"Nobody has done more to lay out a plan for how we restore the basic functioning of this institution than Kevin McCarthy. Nobody. Nobody has done that," Gallagher said.

After Gallagher concluded his speech, Rep. Pete Aguilar, chairman of the Democratic caucus, again nominated Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for the post. The chamber again broke out in applause.

"We are focused on serving the American people," Aguilar said in remarks. "In order to do that, we have to unite behind a speaker, and Democrats are united behind a speaker."

Texas Rep. Chip Roy then rose to nominate Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida for speaker. Donalds switched his vote on the third ballot Tuesday from McCarthy to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Roy called Donalds a "solid conservative" and highlighted his record as a businessman and service in the Florida state legislature and in Congress.

"Here we are, and for the first time in history there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House," he said, adding "There is an important reason for nominating Byron and that is this country needs a change. This country needs leadership that does not reflect this city, this town that is badly broken."

The House then began its fourth round of voting for speaker.

Before the vote began, House staff counted the members present in the House chamber to establish a quorum. A quorum call showed 351 members in attendance.

Passing by reporters, McCarthy said they wouldn't adjourn without a vote. 

"We're not going to adjourn," he said. "We'll have another vote today".

By Melissa Quinn

Mike Pence urges Republicans to rally around McCarthy

Former Vice President Mike Pence urged all Republicans to rally around McCarthy, as the fractured party enters a second day of the 118th Congress. 

"Urging Every Republican in @HouseGOP to support my friend, Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House," Pence tweeted. "@GOPLeader's Leadership & Vision led to The New Republican Majority & I know Speaker McCarthy will lead the House to begin a Great American Comeback!"

By Kathryn Watson

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu: "We effectively don't have a House of Representatives"

Before the House convenes at noon, House Democratic leaders warned of the consequences that flow from the ongoing — and so far unsuccessful — efforts by Republicans to elect a new House speaker, noting it's impeding the ability of House leaders to constitute committees and hire staff and lawmakers to assist their constituents.

"Now it gets serious, because we effectively don't have a House of Representatives. This can't keep on going. You can't have one branch of the federal government simply not function," Rep. Ted Lieu of California, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters in a press conference. "We need Republicans to govern if they can. If they cannot, then they should let Democrats govern."

California Rep. Pete Aguilar, the caucus chair, said members "don't have statuses" until the House organizes, since the first order of business for the new Congress is the election of a House speaker. Because one has not yet been chosen, none of the incoming members have taken their oaths of office and therefore remain representatives-elect.

"This is going to start to impact the operations of the House moving forward," he said, later adding, "There could be a point where it does mean something to the constituents that we serve, whether we can engage in casework on their behalf and help individuals navigate the federal bureaucracy back home."

Aguilar criticized his Republican colleagues, saying they are characterized by "crisis, confusion, disarray."

"This is a crisis of the Congress and it's a crisis at the hands of the Republican dysfunction," he said.

Aguilar said he intends to once again nominate Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for speaker when the House convenes and reiterated his colleagues will unify behind Jeffries as they have done on the prior three votes. He also said Democratic leadership has not had conversations about voting "present," which would lower the vote threshold to make it easier for McCarthy to secure the support needed to win the gavel.

By Melissa Quinn

Biden on House GOP disarray: "The world is looking"

Before departing the White House for Kentucky, where President Biden will be joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr. Biden said Republicans' inability to elect a House speaker is "not a good look" and "not a good thing" for the country.

"That's not my problem," he told reporters at the White House. "I just think it's a little embarrassing it's taking so long."

Mr. Biden added: "The rest of the world is looking. They're looking at can we get our act together?"

Asked whether he is concerned about the ability to govern if the impasse among House GOP members and members-elect continues, the president replied, "Not me — Congress to govern."

Mr. Biden lamented that the fight over who will become House speaker is coming in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

"This is the United States of America," he said. "I hope they get their act together."

By Melissa Quinn

How the speaker's race is impacting the operation of the House

The House can do nothing before the election of a speaker. No member of the House can be sworn into office, and they can't act on any legislation. 

Committees now under Republican control can't launch the investigations they've planned into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the origins of COVID-19, the handling of the Southern border and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"There is no House of Representatives as we know it. There is no member of the House currently sworn in," CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe noted on CBS News' streaming channel Tuesday following the three failed votes. 

It also means there is no House speaker in line for the presidency. After the vice president, it is the speaker who is next in line. Without a speaker, the president pro tempore of the Senate is next. In the 118th Congress, that would be Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. 

By Kathryn Watson

Rep. Comer says Kevin McCarthy isn't "perfect" House speaker but "the right person to lead our conference at the right time"

Republican Rep. James Comer, who is set to chair the House Oversight Committee, told "CBS Mornings" on Wednesday that he doesn't think GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the "perfect" House speaker, but he's "the right person to lead our conference at the right time."

The House will likely try for a fourth time Wednesday to elect a speaker following a day of chaos in the Republican Party. After three rounds of voting Tuesday, McCarthy failed to get the majority of votes needed to win. Nothing else can happen in the House until a speaker is elected. 

"We agree we need a speaker," Comer said.. "We need a speaker today, so I think it's important in political negotiations that both sides try to figure out an out here."

"Both sides have dug in the sand, and I think we've got to come up with some type of consensus so we can elect our speaker and move forward with our Republican agenda that voters overwhelmingly gave us during the midterms this past November," he said. 

Read more here and watch the full interview in the player below. 

GOP Rep. James Comer on House Speaker race, priority for Oversight Committee 07:32

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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, asked the architect of the Capitol 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."

Gaetz has voted against McCarthy in all three rounds of voting so far.


Trump calls on GOP holdouts to elect McCarthy speaker and not turn triumph into "giant & embarrassing defeat"

Former President Donald Trump urged all Republicans to rally behind McCarthy for speaker in a post to his social media platform, Truth Social, on Wednesday morning.

"Some really good conversations took place last night, and it's now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY, & WATCH CRAZY NANCY PELOSI FLY BACK HOME TO A VERY BROKEN CALIFORNIA,THE ONLY SPEAKER IN U.S. HISTORY TO HAVE LOST THE "HOUSE" TWICE!" the former president wrote.

Trump told the House GOP holdouts not to squander their victory in taking control of the House, warning them against turning "a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat."

"Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB - JUST WATCH!" he wrote in his appeal.

Trump endorsed McCarthy for speaker on the eve of Election Day in November, though he remained mum through Tuesday as the speaker's race devolved into chaos for Republicans. 

It's unclear whether Trump's latest endorsement will sway the 20 GOP holdouts to throw their support behind McCarthy on the fourth ballot.

By Melissa Quinn

House adjourns without electing speaker after McCarthy fails to win

House adjourns without electing speaker after McCarthy fails to win 03:54

Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost three elections for Speaker of the House on Tuesday, leaving the chamber at a standstill. McCarthy said late Tuesday he is willing to continue negotiations with the 20 holdout conservative members. Scott MacFarlane reports from Capitol Hill.  


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

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." 

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." 

McCarthy seemed to suggest that he might be able to prevail with a lower majority threshold, telling reporters that he needs a range between 213 and 218 votes to win since Democrats have 212 votes. A number below 218 would only constitute an absolute majority if some members are absent or vote "present," lowering the total number of lawmakers casting a vote for or against him. If some of the 19 holdouts were to vote "present," he could win.

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."


The Republicans opposing McCarthy

The 20 Republicans opposing McCarthy have different reasons for voting against him, making it more challenging for McCarthy to win over enough of them to secure the speaker's gavel. He can only afford to lose four Republican votes. 

Some accuse him of perpetuating the "Washington status quo," and others doubt he'll follow through on promises to reform spending.

In Tuesday's final round of voting, he lost one more vote than in the prior two rounds when Republican Rep. Byron Donalds, of Florida, switched his vote from McCarthy to Rep. Jim Jordan. Donalds had pledged to vote for McCarthy on the first two ballots but not after that.  

Some of the most vocal GOP opponents of McCarthy include Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona. Biggs, who ran against McCarthy for the top spot in GOP leadership, was initially nominated as the third candidate in the first round of voting, but Jordan was nominated to be the third candidate in the next two rounds. 

The Republicans opposing McCarthy are generally further to the right than the rest of their conference. 

By Kathryn Watson
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