Holdouts Take Kevin McCarthy's New Offer and Vote for Him to Shove It

  • In Politics
  • 2023-01-05 18:36:59Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images  

Three calendar days, four legislative days, and seven ballots later, the numbers aren't getting better for Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) bid to be speaker.

On Thursday, after McCarthy made new concessions the night before, there were still 20 GOP votes against him, with one Republican voting present-just like Wednesday, and one vote worse than Tuesday.

McCarthy hasn't moved anyone. But the Never Kevin faction isn't exactly growing either. And one of their key members, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), ditched voting for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) on Thursday in exchange for none other than "Donald John Trump," filling out a square on figurative bingo cards throughout the nation.

In short, things sort of suck-and are stuck-for everyone.

Back in the chamber after an overnight break, Democrats and Republicans braced for the same roll call they've now done seven times over. The energy was noticeably lower than in days past. While the presence of newly elected members added a social element to floor votes earlier this week, members Thursday were far more mellow, with many scrolling through their phones between occasional conversations.

Kevin McCarthy Offers Holdouts a Deal. Will It Move Them?

Members-elect still have not been sworn in. Some staff hirings throughout the Capitol are delayed. Some members have expressed concerns about national security, with their security clearances in limbo until a speaker is elected. It's not how first weeks for a freshman class tend to go.

Rep-elect John James (R-MI) gave McCarthy's seventh nominating speech, using some usual platitudes like, "We want to talk about people who can win." McCarthy's allies continued to clap along, as they've already done six times over. McCarthy himself sat mostly stoic, occasionally shaking some hands and chatting with reliable voters.

After the vote, McCarthy and anti-McCarthy voter Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) did move to a back aisle together, having a lengthy one-on-one conversation.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) gave the nominating speech for Donalds, the favored candidate of the Never Kevin faction, while dishing out digs at Republican leadership and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who tweeted that Republicans were using Donalds-one of four Black Republicans-as a political prop.

Bush, who is also Black, sat on the Democratic side while occasionally nodding along, looking unbothered and confirming to other members that she was, in fact, the member Bishop was talking about.

But even after a night of negotiations where McCarthy reportedly caved to even more demands, the California Republican didn't sway a single member. Even Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who'd led the push for the sort of rules changes McCarthy is increasingly succumbing to, appeared to cast his vote for Donalds with no hesitation. The McCarthy defectors continued to sit in their same spot in the room, chatting with a variety of members before and after the seventh vote.

Republicans and Democrats Quietly Consider a Speaker Deal

"A deal is NOT done. When confidences are betrayed and leaks are directed, it's even more difficult to trust. Totally unsat. I will not yield to the status quo," Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who's been against McCarthy, tweeted after the vote.

Democrats, meanwhile, continued to vote exclusively for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Earlier in the day, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA) insisted she's prepared to have Democrats stay over the weekend-if it comes to that.

Any Democrats absent for a speaker vote could lower the threshold for McCarthy to win.

"This is not a hard sell, because they understand what is at stake. And this isn't about events and celebrations that they have planned, which of course, you know, we would love to be able to do that. But this is about the dangerous moment that we are in and it is about the chaos that the Republicans are creating," Clark told reporters. "So we have to be here."

Timing is still up in the air on the inevitable eight ballot. But if McCarthy somehow passes nine ballots, he'll surpass the number of ballots it took to elect a speaker in 1923-the last time it took more than one vote to elect a speaker.

Sam Brodey contributed to this report.

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