House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed again to secure enough votes to win the speaker’s gavel in the first ballot on Thursday.
With this defeat, members-elect are expected to participate in another vote, and they will continue to do so until a nominee reaches a majority. There have been seven ballots in three days as of press time.
Nineteen of the 20 GOP defectors voted for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL). In a first since ballots started Tuesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) cast his vote for former President Donald Trump. Gaetz was sitting next to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who appeared to be amused by his decision.
FL Rep. Matt Gaetz votes for Donald Trump for House Speaker… while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene laughs pic.twitter.com/uAySkLANI2
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 5, 2023
Gaetz floated Trump for speaker in the past. A speaker is not required to be a member of Congress, though every one so far has been a member. Trump, who in November announced he is embarking on a third presidential campaign, previously rejected the idea. Trump urged Republicans to rally behind McCarthy on Wednesday.
Across three days of speaker votes, Democrats voted as a bloc to support Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) with 212 votes. Meanwhile, McCarthy only earned as many as 203 votes despite Republicans holding the majority. In the first vote on Thursday, McCarthy earned 201 votes. That is the same number he got all day Wednesday.
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who voted for McCarthy on Tuesday, stuck to her Wednesday trend of voting “present.”
McCarthy signaled he’s in the mix for the long haul, and between votes has been negotiating with political allies and foes alike to attempt to work the math in his favor.
House members cannot be sworn in until a speaker is chosen, holding up any legislative business and committee assignments in the 118th Congress. The threshold for a nominee to win the speaker’s gavel is 218 votes, but that number decreases if members vote “present,” decline to vote, or are absent.