McCarthy Loses 7th Vote for Speaker as Drama Shrinks Congressional Agenda

kevin mccarthy

Representative Kevin McCarthy lost his bid for House speaker for a seventh time. It leaves the chamber deadlocked for a third day at the start of the Republican rule.

The latest loss came even after his latest concessions failed to win over enough Republican hard-liners. The chamber cannot move on to any other business until a speaker is chosen.

McCarthy tried to secure the win by offering fresh concessions to a hard-right band of G.O.P. rebels in a desperate effort to lock down the votes in the House. 

After losing a half-dozen consecutive votes in two humiliating days, McCarthy by Thursday had privately agreed to more demands from the right-wing dissidents, embracing measures that would weaken the speakership. They were also measures he had previously refused. 

But it seems these concessions were not enough to corral the votes. 

Many House Republicans are furious with a band of far-right rebels who they say are holding the party hostage by repeatedly rejecting its nominee for speaker.

But there’s one thing they’re so far unwilling to do: work with a faction of Democrats to elect a centrist speaker to govern the narrow GOP majority and teach the rabble-rousers a lesson.

Experts say there are a few potential candidates to become speakers if McCarthy keeps failing due to the rebellion by hardliners. 

First is Rep. Steve Scalise, the no. 2 House Republican who is a supporter of McCarthy and could get some support from moderates while also appealing to hardliners. 

Another option could be Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio, leader of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the most hardline House conservatives. Rep. Byron Donald, being sworn in for only his second term, is a far-right lawmaker who the holdouts love. 

The speaker is usually a lawmaker from the majority party, but he could be an outsider. Former Rep. Fred Upton, a longtime Republican who was first elected in 1986 and did not seek reelection in 2022, signaled his openness to run for speaker. 

Former Rep. Justin Amash from Michigan was both a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and the first Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment. He left his party in 2020 to join the Libertarian Party and did not seek reelection that year. 

Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries could potentially take the speakership, but experts say it is unlikely. Jeffries was unanimously elected to lead his party in November and has held all 212 Democratic votes during each of the six ballots. But Republicans would be extremely unlikely to agree to this. 

The ongoing drama over the House speaker is shrinking the congressional agenda and plummeting already low hopes over legislative expectations. 

Democratic senators were already bracing for a legislative slowdown over the next two years, but the last 48 hours of House GOP mayhem have lowered even their modest expectations.

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