Kevin McCarthy faces pressure to end deadlock over his crippled free speech bid after two Consecutive days of failed votes. Even after proposing big concessions to his hard-line conservative opponents late Wednesday, it was unclear whether the California Republican would be able to secure the 218 votes he needed to win.
The House reconvenes on Thursday and will hold a seventh vote on the speakership with some Republicans, including McCarthy, trying to downplay the significance of this latest vote.
“Well, I think that’s what you’re going to see today until we get everything done,” McCarthy said. “Whenever you talk about different things, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. I won’t read anything into votes today.
“We’re excited to get there,” McCarthy said.
As the struggle drags on, patience among lawmakers is wearing thin. Moderates are also increasingly frustrated by the concessions, with many believing the new GOP majority may find it difficult to govern effectively, though they will still swallow them.
The council reconvenes Thursday at 12 noon ET. It’s unclear whether McCarthy’s speakership will hold a seventh vote or whether Republicans will defer. McCarthy is eager to get more votes with 20 members showing opposition to him, and he wants to demonstrate some forward momentum, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
McCarthy has been meeting with allies on Capitol Hill, and his opponents were meeting outside the compound Thursday morning as House Republicans tried to chart a path forward.
“I think things are moving in the right direction,” Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota said as McCarthy left the meeting. “Nothing is going to come together anytime soon, but I think we’re clearly making progress.”
The longer the fight drags on, the more bleak it will become for McCarthy’s future, however, as it could lead to more defections and a loss of confidence in the GOP leader.
Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, who backed McCarthy by six votes, warned Thursday of the possibility of more defections.
Asked by CNN if he would stand with McCarthy on the seventh ballot, Buck said: “If there’s a deal, 10 out of 20 moves, I think people will be with him. If there’s no deal and we have 20 votes, I think people will start (changing). Buck added: “Including me.”
“Kevin will lose credibility because he can’t do this deal,” Pugh said.
There are some signs that the talks have made some progress as McCarthy and his allies try to overcome opposition from the conservative crowd.
New offers in series It was first reported by CNN on Wednesday night, McCarthy agreed to propose a rule change that would allow a member to vote to oust a sitting speaker, according to two sources familiar with the matter. McCarthy initially proposed a five-member threshold, a departure from current convention rules that require half the GOP to call for such a vote.
He also agreed to allow more members of the independent caucus to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee, which dictates how and when bills are debated, and to vote on some bills that prioritize balance sheets, including proposing time limits. LIMITATIONS ON MEMBERS AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM.
Republican sources say even if McCarthy’s offers are accepted, he still falls short of the 218 votes needed to become speaker. While these concessions have attracted some new support, other opponents have raised various concerns that have yet to be fully addressed.
McCarthy said Wednesday evening that there was still no deal to end the impasse, but that progress had been made. “I think it’s better for people to implement some more,” McCarthy said after the House adjourned.
McCarthy has already made several concessions to his opponents, though his efforts so far have been insufficient.
But Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy allies and holdouts were the most productive and intense to date, the sources said. In a sign of progress, McCarthy-affiliated super PACs have agreed not to play open Republican primaries in safe seats — one of the big demands conservatives have made, but McCarthy has so far resisted.
A Texas representative was among the conservatives who voted against McCarthy’s free-speech initiative. Chip Roy told GOP leaders he thinks he can get 10 holdouts if the ongoing negotiations pan out, according to GOP sources familiar with domestic discussions. There are additional detractors who are willing to vote “now”.
Still, even if these negotiations prove successful and 10 lawmakers flip McCarthy’s column—which is far from certain—it will not give McCarthy the 218 votes needed to win the speakership, so he will have more work to do.
McCarthy also met separately Wednesday with the new members-elect who voted against him, sources told CNN.
During the meeting, McCarthy reiterated some of the things he had already promised and elaborated on those concessions.
McCarthy’s direct communication to the newly elected provides another window into his strategy for winning over holdouts.
Incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer commented that the negotiations were “very constructive.”
“There’s a whole bunch of members involved, and some are sitting down now and talking about that discussion and seeing where they want to go with it next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
A moderate Republican told CNN Thursday morning that they are not happy about the concessions, but are open to “discussions” about them.
The fear is that reducing the voting thresholds for impeaching the Speaker to one member would make governance over the debt ceiling and financing almost impossible.
“I don’t like the rules but I’m willing to listen to the debates. I think it’s a mistake they made for the convention. Some of these people want a weak speaker with a four-vote majority. They don’t want the public to see the GOP, I’m afraid,” the member said.
The battle for speakership, which began Tuesday in the first day of the 118th Congress, has left the new House GOP majority in disarray and narrowed the party’s agenda.
McCarthy has come up short in six rounds of voting so far. The final GOP tally for Wednesday’s sixth ballot was 201 for McCarthy, 20 for the Florida representative. Byron Donalds Florida and a “present” vote.
The council will remain suspended until the crisis is over. This is the first time since 1923 that the election for Speaker has gone to multiple ballots.
To be elected Speaker, a candidate must win a majority of members of the House voting for a particular person. If any member abstains or votes “absent” it is 218 votes.
House Republicans won 222 seats in the new Congress, so for McCarthy to reach 218, he could only lose four GOP votes.
This story and topic have been updated with additional improvements.
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