Kevin McCarthy Falls Short in Historic Defeat

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) fell short of the necessary number of votes to succeed Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) as speaker in an initial roll call Tuesday, becoming the first majority party leader in a century to fail to secure the speakership on the first ballot.

The vote is a clear sign of the divisions in the Republican Party. It is also a potential blow to California. Instead of handing off power and influence from a California Democrat in Pelosi to a California Republican in McCarthy, both leaders could be relegated to the back benches of Congress — one by choice and the other by force.

Nineteen Republicans voted for candidates other than McCarthy on the first ballot, leaving him 15 short of the 218 votes needed to secure the post he has long sought. The House speaker election hasn’t required multiple ballots on a floor vote since 1923, when then-Rep. Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.) was elected speaker on the ninth ballot.

Tuesday’s outcome , however, wasn’t a surprise. A small number of conservative Republicans had for weeks vowed to oppose McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) on the floor when the new Congress convened, even as he continued to negotiate with members and make concessions on rules changes. What’s unclear is how the weeks-long stalemate between the majority of the House Republican Conference and the pocket of conservative antagonists will be resolved.

At noon, when the 118th Congress formally convened, officials were seen removing metal detectors Pelosi had installed outside the floor in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. But by the time the first roll call completed shortly before 2 p.m., the chamber still lacked new leadership.

The chamber’s failure to elect a speaker on the first ballot throws into chaos the beginning of a divided government in Washington, delaying the swearing-in of members of the House as well as votes on the rules that will govern the 118th Congress.

The splits within the GOP were evident even before the roll was called. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) remained seated as most Republicans stood and applauded Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) nominating speech for McCarthy.

Democrats, in contrast, were in complete unity as Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) stood up to nominate Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who has little chance of becoming speaker in a House Republican majority. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) later nominated Biggs for speaker, to muted applause in the chamber.

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) celebrated a historic feat of his own, delivering floor remarks to commemorate his new record as the longest-serving leader in the upper chamber.

Although Republicans lost the White House in 2020, the Senate in 2021 and a Senate seat in the 2022 midterms, McCarthy has guided House Republicans to gains in the previous two cycles. He has traveled the country raising huge sums of money and tying himself closely to former President Trump, who himself has been unable to persuade conservative members of the House to back McCarthy for speaker, a powerful post that would put him second in line to the presidency behind Vice President Kamala Harris.

House GOP candidates fell far short of expectations last cycle, leaving the party with a razor-thin 222-212 majority over Democrats until the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) is replaced in a special election later this year, likely by the Democratic nominee. And Democratic leaders are already bullish on their prospects for taking back control of the chamber in 2024.

McCarthy handily won an internal House Republican Conference vote for speaker in November against Biggs, winning 188-31. The full GOP leadership slate elected in November included Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) as majority leader, Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) as majority whip, Stefanik as conference chair and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) as chair of House Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Only the speaker post requires a full vote of the House, during which the winning candidate must win a majority of all members present and voting. The chaos on the House floor only feeds into Democrats’ narrative that House Republicans are incapable of governing.

After the House chaplain’s prayer — and before the roll call votes for speaker commenced — reporters seated above the House floor in the gallery heard Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) say, “Let the show begin.” And during his vote, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) cast his vote for the “current vote leader,” Jeffries.

“The 118th Congress has yet to begin and Americans are already seeing how dysfunctional and disastrous GOP control of the House is going to be,” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), chair of the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — House Democrats’ campaign arm — said in a statement. “While House Republicans fight one another in unprecedented ways, and Kevin McCarthy gives into the most extreme flanks of the Republican party in desperate plays for their support, Democrats are clear minded, unified and eager to get to work for the American people. No matter who becomes Speaker of the House or how many votes it takes, the contrast is clear and in two short years voters will reject this MAGA chaos and confusion.”

Original Article

2 thoughts on “Kevin McCarthy Falls Short in Historic Defeat

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  1. I disagree with a lot of what Democrats are doing and want to do (I am a fiscally conservative Republican) BUT current Republicans have no plan, can not govern and have no leaders in the House with any spine or that can match Nancy Pelosi on her leadership skills.
    Until the GOP purge themselves from the Green, Gaetz, Jordan and Santos and similar weasels with just personal ambitions and no plans to do anything for the well being of regular folks.
    It seems I will be voting for Democrats for the foreseeable future.

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