House Speaker Votes: McCarthy Still Lacks Critical Mass

    House Speaker Votes: McCarthy Still Lacks Critical Mass
    Last updated Jan 06, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via Time Magazine]


    • On Friday, the US House of Representatives continued its historic stand-off, as Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made progress towards securing house leadership, but still lacked a critical mass. As of Friday evening, McCarthy had lost all 13 rounds of voting with the House adjourning until 10:00 pm EST.[1]
    • Despite failing to be elected speaker, McCarthy did make progress not seen in previous days. During the 12th round of voting, he flipped 14 Republicans who hadn't voted for him in previous rounds; in the 13th round, he flipped an additional vote. He expressed confidence in shortly clinching the role.[1]
    • In the first speaker vote to pass nine rounds since 1860, McCarthy received 200 votes in the 10th and 11th rounds, with 12 Republicans voting for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and seven voting for Kevin Hern (R-Okla.). McCarthy reached 214 votes in the 12th and 13th rounds.[2]
    • All 212 Democrats again voted unanimously for Rep. Hakeem Jefferies (D-N.Y.), leading anti-McCarthy Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to vote for Donald Trump in a largely symbolic jab at the GOP leader before switching to Hern in later rounds.[3]
    • Gaetz's vote for Trump comes as the former president has publicly supported McCarthy for speaker, leading the Congressman from Florida to accuse Trump — whom he's long backed — of having a blind spot when it comes to personnel decisions. The remark was uncharacteristic of Gaetz, who is a leading figure in resisting McCarthy.[4]
    • McCarthy has reportedly agreed to certain concessions to win over his current detractors, including lowering the threshold for a vote on replacing a speaker to one member and installing hard-right Freedom Caucus members to the rules committee, which has significant influence over voting on the budget.[5]


    Republican narrative

    The remaining "Never Kevin" detractors seem to be campaigning on the House floor rather than fighting for substantive change. McCarthy has already promised to enact most of the concessions requested, but these so-called "anti-establishment" representatives are only pushing the talking points that their ill-advised consultants have fed them.

    Conservative narrative

    No matter what happens with this vote, Kevin McCarthy and his staunchest supporters — including Donald Trump — will have learned that even a 16-year congressional veteran can't bully dissenters the way he could in the past. Even hardcore Trump supporters like Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert have ignored his endorsement because they understand that figures like McCarthy will never like them so long as they oppose the money-fueled elitism of the establishment GOP.

    Cynical narrative

    It's deeply ironic that amid Friday's voting turmoil and drama, only one Republican showed up to mark a Congressional memorial of the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots of 2021. While the memorial was ongoing, much of the House of the GOP was reportedly on a Speaker conference call. This turbulence isn't a good look as America also reflects on a historic day.

    Political split



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