Home of Representatives adjourns after McCarthy misplaced 11th poll
WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives adjourned for a third night without a speaker – the longest the chamber has been leaderless in generations – after GOP leader Kevin McCarthy lost an 11th vote on the gavel and struggled to strike a deal with far-right extremists Republicans draft back his offer.
The House plans to reconvene at 12 p.m. ET Friday as McCarthy and his allies try to iron out a crude offer that would give hardline Conservatives more power in the new GOP majority.
Ahead of Thursday’s final speaker vote, two members of the bloc of 20 Republican holdouts who opposed McCarthy’s speakership nominated alternative candidates to McCarthy: The first pick was Oklahoma GOP Rep. Kevin Hern, who chairs the influential Republican study committee. The second candidate was former President Donald Trump, proposed by his longtime ally, Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Hern has repeatedly voted for McCarthy to be spokesperson, but he didn’t say outright that he would turn down the job if McCarthy withdrew his name.
The emergence of another potential alternative to McCarthy was the latest setback in a frustrating day for the longtime GOP leader. Meanwhile, Democrats appeared to revel in the GOP’s repeated failures and enthusiastically called down a proposed adjournment ballot just before 8 p.m. ET Thursday. Republicans then voted in a recorded vote to end proceedings for the night.
“We should stay here all night … all weekend until we get a speaker,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told CNN.
McCarthy lost 20 Republicans on the 11th ballot, with one GOP member elected voting present. With 222 Republicans in the newly elected House of Representatives, he could afford to lose just four of them to match the 218 needed to win the Speakership.
The speaker election is now guaranteed to reach at least 12 votes. It has lasted more than a dozen ballots only four times in US history.
Earlier in the day, McCarthy sounded upbeat about talks between his top lieutenants and a group of holdouts.
“I think everyone in the conversation wants to find a solution,” McCarthy said as he made his way into the House of Representatives chamber for the day’s first vote.
But less than two hours after voting began, another influential McCarthy holdout, Rep. Scott Perry, Pa., released an angry tweet accusing McCarthy of revealing details of internal negotiations.
The continued absence of a Speaker has thrown the House into disarray, largely due to the fact that ordinary members cannot be sworn into office until a Speaker is elected and cannot set up their local or Washington offices. This means that all 434 members of the House still technically remain elected members, not official proxies.
Ahead of Thursday’s votes, Democratic Party leaders berated Republicans for the party’s dysfunction and stressed the damage days without a House Speaker would do to the legislature and the nation.
“We cannot organize our district offices, get our new members to do the political work of our constituent services, and minister to the people who sent us here on their behalf,” said new Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass. , reporters at the Capitol Thursday morning. “Kevin McCarthy’s ego in his quest for speaking at any cost drowns out the voices and needs of the American people.”
Democrats also stressed that the lack of a speaker threatens U.S. national security by preventing members of Congress from accessing classified information only available to lawmakers after they take the oath of office, which none of them can do without can afford a speaker.
“Ultimately, all we’re asking is Republicans to find a way for themselves to organize so Congress can get together and get the American people’s business done,” Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a news conference with Clark.
Clark accused McCarthy of being “held hostage to his own ambitions”.
“This is about your responsibility to organize the government. It’s fundamental to us as members of Congress,” she said.
Democrats stayed in lockstep throughout all of the voting, casting their 212 ballots for Jeffries.
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