A majority of Republican rebels finally flipped their votes to Kevin McCarthy during his defeat in the twelfth ballot for Speaker – after his supporters walked out in protest of Matt Gaetz and following crucial negotiations over concessions on Friday morning.
In a startling development, the GOP leader won more votes than he has seen in the last four days of the farce after his party held a conference call to try and strike a deal with the hardliners who have sunk his bid.
The rest of the dissenters were split between Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., chair of the conservative Study Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, both of whom themselves back McCarthy.
The rebels flipped after McCarthy made more concessions in the package that includes votes on lawmaker term limits and border security, the motion to vacate the speaker and more roles on House committees.
Ahead of the vote Rep. Matt Gaetz took to the microphone to nominate Jordan and tore into McCarthy, causing around two dozen furious members of his caucus to stage a walk-out of the House floor.
Gaetz called McCarthy ‘the Lebron James of special interest fundraising. He said McCarthy’s bid for Speaker was an ‘exercise in vanity’ driven by ‘personal ambition.’
‘That ambition is paralyzing the House now,’ Gaetz said.
‘You only earn the position of Speaker of the House. If you can get the votes. Mr. McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year.’
At one point GOP Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois stood up and started shouting at Gaetz before being quieted by the House clerk.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., faked out the chamber by beginning his vote with ‘Kevin…’ and pausing before adding ‘Hern!’
Each time a McCarthy dissenter switched their vote on Friday’s ballot the rest of the pro-McCarthy faction of the conference stood up and applauded.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee earned a standing ovation and cheers when he cast his vote by saying: ‘Based on the fact no one cheers when I speak and I’ve never been asked to give a nomination speech – but i’m not bitter about it – Kevin McCarthy.’
Earlier McCarthy told members of his conference votes could stretch into Saturday, a fifth day, as he presses forward with an agreement with his dissenters.
The California Republican told his party they could be back again tomorrow on a mid-morning call that precedes another day of noon votes.
‘I don’t know if we will get there today but we are going to make progress,’ McCarthy told reporters as he walked onto the House floor four a fourth day of voting.
‘I’m not saying we have an agreement. I am saying we’re in a great spot,’ McCarthy said, according to Punchbowl News.
Earlier Punchbowl reported that McCarthy said lawmakers had reached a deal that would get McCarthy over the 218-vote threshold before Rep. Chip Roy, one of the 21 GOP defectors, denied the report.
‘He did not say this. And any agreement will take us ALL. We are making progress… but don’t let the sharks confuse the ongoing engagement,’ the Texas Republican wrote on Twitter.
Asked if the debacle could drag into next week, Rep. Victoria Spartz, one of the McCarthy holdouts, told reporters: ‘We’ll see.’
‘It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it runs two months – the republic will stand,’ she said.
McCarthy was also heard demanding reporters get off the call, Punchbowl reported.
Late Thursday, after the House gaveled out for the day with McCarthy losing on the 11th vote, he provided a written offer to appease the so-called ‘Taliban 20.’
It included, according to Roll Call, the ability for just one member to oust the speaker, down from five which was in the original rules package, additionally it promised floor votes on a balanced budget, term limits and appropriations amendments.
A previous concessional also pledged that there would be a vote on border legislation.
McCarthy had previously agreed to allow more members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to serve on the House Rules Committee, which dictates what bills make it to the House floor.
He also agreed that his leadership PAC would stay out of safe primary races, therefore allowing conservatives to challenge more moderate Republicans in red districts.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly offered the 20 rogue Republicans a list of concessions he would make in exchange for their votes in the speakership race
Rep. Kevin McCarthy is captured leaving the House chamber Thursday night after five additional rounds of voting, 11 total, didn’t warrant him the speakership job
The House adjourned overnight Thursday after voting went on for five rounds and McCarthy was still short of a majority – the longest battle for the speakership since 1895.
No House Speaker vote has gone on this long in modern US political history, and it’s set Republicans’ new majority in the chamber off to a rocky start.
In 1856, it took former House Speaker Nathaniel Prentice Banks two months and 133 rounds of voting for the House of Representatives to settle on a leader – the longest stretch on record.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pumps his fist as he votes for himself a tenth time in the House chamber as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023
Lawmakers appeared exhausted as the House Speaker vote dragged out across a third day
Rep. Paul Gosar sits by himself during the tenth vote for Speaker, and fourth vote of Thursday
McCarthy spent much of the third day of votes walking around the chamber speaking to both allies and holdouts (seen speaking with Republican Rep.-elect Cory Mills of Florida)
Rep.-elect George Santos is seen speaking with fellow Republican Rep.-elect Pat Fallon on the third day of votes
Firebrand GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were seen sitting next to each other, despite their public break over McCarthy’s Speakership bid
For the seventh round, McCarthy was nominated by Michigan Rep-elect John James
GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina stood to nominate Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, who the anti-McCarthy faction nominated on Wednesday
At the US Capitol ahead of the vote on Thursday, McCarthy told reporters, ‘I’m confident we will reach a solution otherwise we won’t be successful.’
The historic gridlock has paralyzed Capitol Hill; with no Speaker, the 118th House of Representatives cannot be sworn in, and new legislation cannot move to the floor or through committees – which do not have formal chairs yet.
And on Wednesday, a group of Republican military veterans held a press conference warning that the disarray was leading to significant national security vulnerabilities. Florida Rep. Michael Waltz said from the podium, ‘Authoritarian regimes all over the world are pointing to what’s going on in the House of Representatives and saying, ‘Look at the messiness of democracy, look at how it doesn’t work, can’t function.”