(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., failed a fourth and fifth time in two days to win his bid to serve as Speaker of the House Wednesday as Republicans remain divided and the position remains unfilled.
Another vote will be needed to confirm a speaker, and until then the newly seated chamber will remain stalled.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, nominated U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., to oppose McCarthy Wednesday, pointing out this is the first time two black Americans have been nominated for Speaker of the House.
“Byron Donalds is a good man raised by a single mom who moved past adversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21, and has devoted his life for…his country, and he has done it admirably,” Roy said. “But 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 new speaker would need 218 votes to secure a majority. After November’s elections, Republicans hold 222 in the House, leaving them a slim majority.
Donalds was able to peel away enough votes to keep McCarthy from winning the speaker’s role and force another vote.
Wednesday’s vote comes a day after McCarthy failed to get the needed 218 votes for the position three times on Tuesday. About 20 Republicans voted for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, that day with Democrats backing Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the expected Democratic successor of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Former President Donald Trump vocalized his support behind McCarthy in a post on TruthSocial Wednesday.
“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!” he wrote. “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!”
The failure to confirm a speaker marks a divide in the party and growing frustration from the conservatives in Congress who feel betrayed by party leadership as the deficit continues to rise and conservatives have won few legislative victories in recent years. Even during Trump’s term, the party struggled to implement his agenda in Congress, though that was in part because of Trump’s failure to rally support and remain focused on the legislative agenda, opting to rely more on executive action.
That party division was further highlighted late Tuesday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol blasting McCarthy, who has already moved into the Speaker’s office, saying “no member can lay claim to this office.”
“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?” the letter said. “How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?”
Despite the opposition, McCarthy told reporters Tuesday night that he was not dropping out.
Some conservative Republicans, though, have been unwilling to throw their support behind the California Republican, who many saw as too liberal, but so far no challenger has arisen with enough clout to get the needed votes.
“In his 14 years in Republican leadership, McCarthy has repeatedly failed to demonstrate any desire to meaningfully change the status quo in Washington,” U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Penn., said. “Despite our deep reservations we have continued to work in earnest to find a path forward with McCarthy, knowing that this crucial moment would come.
As The Center Square previously reported, Perry said he and other conservative members in the House laid out conditions for McCarthy but that he “balked” when faced with them. Those conditions included a promise to vote on a balanced budget, the “Texas Border Plan,” term limits for members of Congress, and the Fair Tax Act, which would create a national sales tax on certain services and property to replace the current income tax, payroll taxes, and estate and gift taxes.
“We requested transparent, accountable votes on individual earmarks that would require two-thirds support to pass, and to ensure that all amendments to cut spending would be allowed floor consideration,” Perry said. “He dismissed it.”