The next speaker of the House has yet to be chosen as about 20 conservative Republicans continued to oppose Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid Thursday, when he lost the seventh ballot early in the afternoon.
“There were more conversations last night. I think that Leader McCarthy knows that he doesn’t have the votes, that he’s only seen increased opposition,” Ben Stout, a spokesman for Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., one of McCarthy’s strongest opponents within the House GOP caucus, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday before that vote.
“So he certainly seemed more willing to make concessions than ever before,” Stout said of McCarthy when asked how Boebert was feeling heading into the seventh round of voting and if there had been any changes since the sixth round Wednesday.
In the seventh vote Thursday, all 20 conservatives again voted against McCarthy. Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., again voted present, NBC News reported.
Republicans hold 222 seats in the House. McCarthy, R-Calif., can lose only four votes to get to the 218 votes he needs to claim the speakership, and he lost more than that in the first ballot Thursday and in three ballots Tuesday and three more Wednesday.
Stout mentioned two other House Republicans, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who have steadfastly opposed McCarthy.
“That said, the congresswoman worked very diligently with [Freedom Caucus] Chairman Perry, with Matt Gaetz, to get together a plan that got [McCarthy] to 218. They presented that plan to him on Monday. He turned it down,” Stout said.
Stout said later in the interview that the Monday meeting “was primarily on policies” as well as “different things to deliver for the American people.”
They were working in good faith to give [McCarthy] a final and best offer, and since then, there have been lies about that meeting. There has—they have been threatened to be removed from their committees for taking this vote. They have been called terrorists by their own fellow colleagues. So it’s only gotten worse, not better, as far as the path towards getting there.
And so, the reality is whether [Boebert] would be able to get there or not isn’t the question. It’s ‘Can he get to 218?’
Boebert’s spokesman also said that fellow Republicans who oppose McCarthy for speaker include “enough folks that just will not get there, that don’t have that trust there” and so Boebert “feels like it’s time to find a consensus candidate.”
Boebert, who is beginning her second House term, said Wednesday night on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that she would “never” vote for McCarthy for speaker.
McCarthy met Wednesday with a few of the 20 Republicans who voted against him during the six rounds of voting that produced no clear winner, The Hill reported. All 212 House Democrats continue to vote for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York for speaker.
One demand from the internal GOP opposition to McCarthy is that a single lawmaker could initiate a vote to unseat the sitting speaker and others seek placement of as many as four members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, led by Perry, on the powerful House Rules Committee and guaranteed floor votes on border security and term limits bills, Punchbowl News reported.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who voted Tuesday for Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., for speaker and then nominated Donalds for the position Wednesday, laid out some concessions that he and some others opposed to McCarthy are seeking.
“What exactly do you want? You want, what, four out of nine positions on the Rules Committee?” Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier asked Roy in an interview Wednesday.
“Well, I’m not going to give you exact numbers, but I want to be able to have enough members on the Rules Committee that we can block bad bills. That could be three. That can be four,” Roy replied.
“And I want to make sure that Republicans are the ones making sure that those bills get through the Rules Committee to the floor,” the Texas Republican said. “And I want an open amendment process, and I want to be able to have the ability to make points of order on the floor if amendments aren’t going to be able to be, you know, relevant, if they’re not germane, etc.”
Baier then asked Roy whether Donalds “has agreed to all of those things.”
“Now, I can’t say that. Byron Donalds is a part of our conversations. Byron Donalds, though, is on the same page as I am about what we need to do,” Roy said. “Byron Donalds wants to change the swamp. Byron Donalds hasn’t been here for the last 13 or 14 years, been a part of raising the debt from about $11 trillion in 2009 to $32 trillion this year … that’s the reality, right?”
McCarthy made some concessions earlier in the week, including ending virtual participation and proxy voting by House members, Fox News reported.
“Just as the speaker is elected by the whole body, we will restore the ability for any five members of the majority party to initiate a vote to remove the speaker if so warranted,” McCarthy said in a letter to fellow Republicans.
“Congress was never intended for Zoom, and no longer will members be able to phone it in while attending lavish international weddings or sailing on their boat. We will meet, gather and debate in person—just as the Founders envisioned,” the Republican leader added.
McCarthy met with some of his fiercest GOP opponents Wednesday night.
“I crawl before I walk, I walk before I run,” the California Republican told reporters after the meeting, NBC News reported. “And I felt as though we had a very good discussion.”
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., emphasized that he will not vote for McCarthy. In a phone interview Thursday morning before the seventh ballot, Good told The Daily Signal:
I’ll never vote for Kevin McCarthy. I’m so thankful that we’ve had 20 members of Congress show the courage to do what they know to be best for the country, to do what they know is the will of millions of Republican voters who sent us to Washington: to make true transformational change, to not continue what we’ve always done, to not vote for the establishment status quo, to not vote for a demonstrable failed leader in Kevin McCarthy.
Good also discussed what he’s heard about other House Republicans deciding to flip their votes for McCarthy and vote instead for someone else.
“I think you have a couple of things going on right now,” Good said. “On the one hand, you’ve got a number of members who have been contemplating when they’re going to go ahead and come out and vote against Kevin McCarthy because they don’t support him, truly. Perhaps they’ve been showing that support because they presumed he would be speaker, or they were afraid of retaliation for stepping out and taking a risk in voting against him.“
There are others who just are becoming fatigued with the process. They know he doesn’t have the votes. They know that he’s not going to be speaker. They see the resolve that we have and they want to move forward in the process.
You know, no one of us can choose the speaker. No five of us can choose the speaker. However, any five or more of us can block someone from becoming speaker.
The seventh round of voting began shortly after noon Thursday, and McCarthy again came up short. The night before, the House had voted 216-214 to adjourn after holding three roll call votes.
On Wednesday, 20 House Republicans voted for Donalds. Besides Boebert, Gaetz, Good, Perry, Roy, and Donalds himself, they were Andy Biggs of Arizona, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma, Michael Cloud of Texas, Eli Crane of Arizona, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Andy Harris of Maryland, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Mary Miller of Illinois, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Matt Rosendale of Montana, and Keith Self of Texas.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report. This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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