The House adjourned Tuesday without picking a new speaker as Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed to win a majority on three ballots – only the eighth time in history a speaker hadn’t been chosen after three ballots.  

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The House adjourned Tuesday without picking a new speaker as Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed to win a majority on three ballots – only the eighth time in history a speaker hadn’t been chosen after three ballots.  

After the second ballot, McCarthy insisted to reporters that the party is “unified.” 

“This isn’t about me,” McCarthy said. “This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out … they want something for their personal selves.”

But McCarthy had lost another Republican on the third round: Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who had pledged to support McCarthy on the first two ballots but not after that — suggesting that he could lose more as the vote could move into further ballots. 

Tuesday’s vote marked the first time in 100 years that the House speaker vote went to multiple ballots. 

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy
U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reacts as members cast their votes for Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress on January 3, 2023.GETTY IMAGES

Given Republicans’ razor-thin majority in the House, McCarthy could only afford to lose four Republican votes. In losing 20 Republican votes, McCarthy not only fell short of the majority needed, he also came up behind Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who received all the Democratic votes. 

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gaveled in the session in her last act as speaker, told reporters after the second round that she had hoped Republicans would unite since they are in the majority, but “that’s their problem.”  14M AGO

McCarthy says he won’t be driven out of race for speaker; spoke to Trump tonight

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Tuesday night that there’s no circumstance that will drive him out of the race for speaker, although it sounded as though he’s willing to make further concessions to the Freedom Caucus, if necessary.  

That contradicts his message to the Republican conference Tuesday morning that he was done negotiating. 

“You want to get to 218, you’re gonna have to keep talking,” he said this evening, after he fell short in his bid to be speaker in three successive rounds of voting. McCarthy added, “I feel actually very good,” though he admitted that “today — is it the day I wanted to have? No.”

“I think we’ll find our way to get there,” he said. “And this is a healthy debate. It might not happen on the day we want it, but it’s gonna happen.” 

McCarthy is continuing to have discussions with the GOP holdouts, though he didn’t provide any further details.

He also said he spoke with former President Donald Trump Tuesday evening, and said Trump’s view is that “he thinks it’s better that all the Republicans get together and solve this. It doesn’t look good for Republicans, but we want to be able to solve it where we’re stronger in the long run.” 

Asked if Trump told McCarthy he wants him to stay in the race, McCarthy replied, “Oh, yeah, I mean, he’s talked to a lot of people on all sides.” Reporters also questioned him on whether he believes that he needs Trump to reiterate his support.

“Trump has already reiterated support,” McCarthy responded.

He is also arguing that he needs a range between 213 and 218 votes to win since Democrats have 212 votes. But a number below 218 would only constitute an absolute majority if some members are absent or vote “present.” McCarthy stated that he is not trying to change the rules of the speaker election to require winning by a plurality, rather than a majority. He indicated that if some of the 19 holdouts vote “present,” he could win the race.

He told reporters, “Democrats have 212 votes; you get 213 votes, and the others don’t say another name. That’s how you can win.”

BY REBECCA KAPLAN

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 40M AGO

Gaetz writes to architect of Capitol to ask why McCarthy is occupying the speaker’s office

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s most vocal GOP critics, has written to the architect of the Capitol to inquire about why it is that McCarthy is allowed to occupy the speaker’s office, since he has not won the office.

In a letter dated Jan. 3, Gaetz wrote to Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, “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? How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?” He asked Blanton for a speedy response, since “it seems Mr. McCarthy can no longer be considered Speaker-Designate following today’s balloting.”

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 5:29 PM / JANUARY 3, 2023

House votes to adjourn

Without a speaker, the House voted to adjourn until noon Wednesday. None of the new members were sworn in. 

BY CAROLINE LINTON

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 5:00 PM / JANUARY 3, 2023

Third round of voting ends with McCarthy having one less vote

Jordan earned one more vote in the third round of voting than he did in the second, suggesting opposition to McCarthy is not waning as the afternoon fades and the sun sets. 

Jeffries received 212 votes, while McCarthy received 202 and Jordan earned 20. 

With Republicans in a clear stalemate, the path forward isn’t clear. 

BY KATHRYN WATSON

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 4:42 PM / JANUARY 3, 2023

Florida Republican switches vote from McCarthy to Jordan on third round

McCarthy lost another vote in the third ballot when GOP Rep. Byron Donalds, of Florida, switched his vote from McCarthy to Jordan. Donalds had pledged to vote for McCarthy on the first two ballots but not after that.  

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