A small faction of Republicans continuously rejected House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) bid for speaker on Tuesday, leaving the House’s top position vacant at the end of the first day of the new Congress.
After three rounds of ballots — a historic feat as no speaker vote has exceeded one ballot in 100 years — the House adjourned without a speaker and voting is expected to resume Wednesday.
In the first two rounds of voting, 19 members defected, first voting for a scattered list of alternatives and then all uniting behind Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the second round.
In the third round, all 19 members plus Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) voted again for Jordan, despite Jordan advocating for McCarthy as well as nominating McCarthy in the prior round.
Jordan is set this Congress to lead the House Judiciary Committee, a top investigative panel with agenda items that include probing possible politicization of the DOJ and FBI, the southern border crisis, big tech censorship, and more.
Jordan expressed on Tuesday night that he is not interested in the speakership role, telling Breitbart News, “I’ve been clear. I want to chair the Judiciary Committee.”
No House business can occur until a speaker is elected, meaning Congress remains in a stalled state of uncertainty as the stalemate among Republicans persists.
No new members can be sworn in, and House members cannot establish rules, appoint committee members, pass legislation, hold hearings, or issue subpoenas. Some staffing also remains up in the air.
McCarthy said Tuesday night, per Politico, that he would not drop out of the race and that he is working to see if some members opposed to him would vote present, which would lower the threshold McCarthy needs to achieve the necessary majority of votes to win. He received 202 votes on the last ballot and currently needs 218.
McCarthy also said, per the outlet, that he spoke with former President Donald Trump and that Trump is continuing to support him after Breitbart News first reported in December that Trump would be backing McCarthy in the election.
Trump said when he first announced his support that McCarthy “deserves the shot” and that those opposing him without offering a viable alternative were “playing a very dangerous game.” He referenced a “doomsday scenario,” an unlikely but possible scenario in which Democrats could band with centrist Republicans to unite around a speaker who, as Trump described, “would be a disaster like Paul Ryan was.”
Meanwhile on the Democrats’ side, incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has secured all 212 votes from his party members in each round of voting.
In a press conference Tuesday night, Jeffries emphasized that Democrats, who more commonly vote in lockstep with one another, were “unified” in contrast to Republicans.
He noted that no Republicans had approached Democrats “with respect to the chaos, crisis, and confusion that we saw unfold before the American people today,” suggesting the “doomsday scenario” of a moderate candidate who Democrats would vote for was not in play at present.
Voting for the speaker race is expected to continue beginning at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday.