Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy appears to have lost the second round of voting for House speaker Thursday, the eighth overall, after hours of tense negotiations failed to sway any holdouts for the embattled California Republican.
McCarthy offered more concessions to members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) opposing his bid for speaker since the House adjourned Wednesday evening. He has discussed granting the HFC more positions on the House Rules Committee and holding a vote on congressional term limits, as well as lowering the threshold for forcing a vote to remove the speaker to just one majority-party lawmaker.
McCarthy has repeatedly failed to secure the 218 votes required to become speaker in seven separate roll calls since Tuesday. Nineteen Republicans opposed him in the first two votes, but now his opposition has grown to 21 after the HFC nominated Florida Republican Rep.-elect Byron Donalds on Wednesday. Indiana Republican Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz also switched her vote from McCarthy to ‘present.’
During the first and second rounds Thursday, Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., cast a surprise vote for former President Donald Trump after he previously voted for Donalds.
In the second round, Republican Reps.-elect Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma both voted for Oklahoma Republican Rep.-elect Kevin Hern.
House Democrats have remained united behind incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, casting all Democratic votes for him in every round.
Both rounds of voting Thursday came down the same way as the previous day for McCarthy and Jeffries, giving them 201 and 212 votes, respectively, and continuing the stalemate.
When nominating Donalds on the House floor Thursday, Rep.-elect Dan Bishop, N.C., slammed Rep.-elect Cori Bush, D-Mo., for characterizing Donalds as a ‘prop’ for racist Republicans.
Bush smiled and looked on as Bishop blasted ‘the tired, old, grotesquely racist rhetoric that we’ve seen far too long.’
‘I’ve spent a good bit of time with Mr. Donalds, especially lately,’ Bishop said. ‘He ain’t no prop, and if he were a prop, he wouldn’t be sitting where he’s sitting.’
McCarthy came up short even after Trump called on House Republicans to back McCarthy, telling Fox News Digital this week that the holdouts are playing a ‘dangerous game.’
Former Vice President Mike Pence also called on Republicans to support McCarthy, tweeting Wednesday: ‘Urging Every Republican in [the House GOP] to support my friend, Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House.’
McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes to get the 218 necessary to win the speakership.
Many of the GOP holdouts have previously praised McCarthy’s leadership and even accepted re-election campaign money from him during last year’s midterm elections. Several told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that the stalemate isn’t personal.
‘This is about who can reach 218 votes,’ Donalds senior adviser Harrison Fields said. ‘The Congressman has respect and a good relationship with Mr. McCarthy, but he does not have the votes to get across the finish line. After six rounds of voting, how much longer will we do the same thing again before looking for alternatives?’
‘Congressman Bishop has no vendetta against Kevin McCarthy,’ Bishop communications director Allie McCandless told Fox News Digital. ‘At this moment, he does not think that he is the right candidate for Speaker.’