House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will attempt again on Friday to win the contest for speaker on the floor, after failing in 11 rounds of voting over three days this week. Since before the Civil War, there have not been more than nine rounds of voting for the position of speaker.
McCarthy remained optimistic about his chances of becoming speaker as he exited the House floor on Thursday night, but declined to forecast when the vote may go his way.
He told reporters, “I’m not putting any timeline on it,” “I believe that we are making some progress. We’ve got members discussing. I believe there is some progress, so we shall see.”
McCarthy made two significant concessions to the 21 remaining conservatives on Wednesday. The first would lower the threshold for a motion to vacate the chair to a single House member, allowing any anyone to ask for a vote to remove the speaker from office. The second amendment would give GOP holdouts the ability to select two of the nine members of the House Rules Committee, which has significant influence over which bills reach the floor.
Despite these concessions, none of the holdouts voted for McCarthy in any of Thursday’s four rounds of voting.
McCarthy adopted a philosophical perspective on the string of failed votes after the House adjourned for the day.
“It’s better that we go through this process now so that we can accomplish our goals for the American public,” he said, adding, “It’s not how you begin; it’s how you end. And if we conclude successfully, we will be quite successful.”
The House adjourned Thursday soon after 8 p.m. till Friday at noon.
The ongoing standoff effectively leaves the House in limbo, as members must first pick a speaker before proceeding with other activity in the next Congress.
The Democrats have remained unified behind New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the first African-American to lead a congressional party in either chamber. Jeffries and his lieutenants stated that the Democrats “are united and are committed to staying in Washington for as long as it takes to get the Congress organized.”
This report was contributed by Ellis Kim.