The House of Representatives convened Tuesday (Jan. 3) to open the 118th Congress, with Republicans having a slim majority after the midterm elections last November. As the first vote to elect the Speaker of the House unfolded, the congressman from California fell short as he received 203 votes with 19 voting for Jim Jordan, the GOP representative from Ohio. The second vote bore out the same results, and the third and final vote in the chamber actually saw McCarthy lose a vote, making the tally 202 to Jordan’s 20.
The failed bids marked the first time since 1923 that an election for speaker went through multiple ballots. In contrast, the Democrats in the House displayed a firm and unified stance as they nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to be Speaker in each round of voting with no defections.
Many observers point to a giant divide between McCarthy, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump to be in the role, and the 19 GOP members who represent the far-right segment of the party. This includes Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Boebert would later claim in a Fox News interview with Bret Baier that she and the other representatives had gone to McCarthy with a deal to help him attain the 218 votes needed for him to be Speaker but he “smugly refused.”
GOP members had also spent time Tuesday attempting to bargain with Democratic members of the House to not be present for the next round of votes so McCarthy could win. This was confirmed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was seen talking with both Gaetz and oddly enough, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. “McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I fact-checked and said absolutely not.”
Meanwhile, Kevin McCarthy is refusing to cave in his attempt to obtain the speakership as the House will vote again at noon Wednesday (Jan. 4). “I’m staying until we win,” he said to members of the press between the second and third votes. “I know the path.” Trump put out a call for unity among Republicans in a Truth Social post on Wednesday morning, saying “it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN.”
*UPDATE: After losing the 4th vote, It seems McCarthy is well on his way to losing a 5th, too.