April 23, 2024
Republicans formally retake control of the lower chamber of Congress on Tuesday, as their new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives won in the November 2022 midterm elections is sworn in.

Republicans formally retake control of the lower chamber of Congress on Tuesday, as their new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives won in the November 2022 midterm elections is sworn in.

All eyes are on the speakership election, where House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy–the GOP conference’s nominee for Speaker–seeks to make it official and lock in the votes necessary to win the gavel. However, McCarthy has been fighting off a band of rebels working to prevent him from ascending to the position and it could derail the new Congress on its first day since nothing else can happen until a speaker is elected. To win, a speaker must earn the majority of votes of those who are present and voting for a person–nominated or not. Any absences or “present” votes lower the threshold by a half vote below what full House attendance–435 members–would require to achieve such a majority, which is 218 votes. Since one Democrat died in late November, the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), the number is already down to at most 434 members for full attendance–and could drop lower if more Democrats do not show up or vote present. If all the other Democrats show up, it would still require 218 votes to elect a speaker–and Democrats have said they will be at full attendance.

While McCarthy’s team is confident he will get there, it is possible he might not. If he does not get a majority on the first ballot, Congress will be paralyzed until a speaker is elected. The last time a speakership election went more than one ballot was a century ago, and back in the mid-1800s one speakership election went more than a hundred ballots and took months. One of McCarthy’s top critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has said it might not be until the cherry blossoms bloom in the mid- to late spring at the end of March or beginning of April that a speaker is elected. While that would be a far-fetched scenario, chaos is certainly a possibility–or everything could go very smoothly for McCarthy. What happens on Tuesday remains to be seen.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks during testimony by constitutional scholars before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first hearing held by the Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom House Democrats say held back military aid for Ukraine while demanding it investigate his political rivals. The Judiciary Committee will decide whether to draft official articles of impeachment against President Trump to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks during testimony by constitutional scholars before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats add one seat to their majority as Democrat John Fetterman formally takes office as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Democrats held onto their seats everywhere else, but Republicans were able to hold competitive seats in Ohio and North Carolina. Several new and exciting conservatives will join the Senate’s GOP minority formally on Tuesday, with Ohio’s J.D. Vance, North Carolina’s Ted Budd, Alabama’s Katie Britt, and Oklahoma’s Markwayne Mullin taking office in the 51-49 Democrat-controlled chamber.

Britt

Katie Britt, U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Alabama, during an election night watch event in Montgomery, Alabama, May 24, 2022. (Andi Rice/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Follow along here on Breitbart News for live updates as the speakership election and other festivities of the day move forward on Tuesday, the first day of the 118th Congress of the United States of America.

UPDATE 12:56 p.m. ET:

Biggs cast a vote for himself and Bishop voted for Biggs too, the first two defectors inside GOP against McCarthy. Boebert was the third vote against McCarthy, voting for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)–who was not nominated–but otherwise all votes are going according to plan for McCarthy.

UPDATE 12:52 p.m. ET:

The voting is beginning now. The clerk calls the roll in alphabetical order. A candidate needs 218 votes to win this ballot.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m. ET:

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) stepped up to nominate Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) for Speaker. Nobody else has stepped forward to nominate anyone else. The first vote is beginning shortly.

UPDATE 12:41 p.m. ET:

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), the Democrat conference chairman, rose to nominate Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for Speaker on the Democrat side. Jeffries succeeded former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the midterm elections when Pelosi–who is still a member of the House–stepped aside when Democrats lost the majority.

UPDATE 12:39 p.m. ET:

In her speech nominating McCarthy, Stefanik listed several major accomplishments he has had as the House GOP leader including securing the repeal of the vaccine mandate for military service members, exposing the border crisis, and more. She also laid his background from humble beginnings.

UPDATE 12:34 p.m. ET:

House GOP conference chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) rose to formally nominate McCarthy for Speaker.

UPDATE 12:29 p.m. ET:

The House is at full attendance–434 members, as the late former Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) had passed away after the election–which means Democrats have delivered on their end to guarantee using McCarthy critics’ obstinance and lack of a clear plan to inflict as much possible pain on Republicans as they can:

UPDATE 12:15 p.m. ET:

Donald Trump Jr. is getting even more aggressive in calling out McCarthy critics, specifically Boebert, Gaetz, and Perry:

UPDATE 12:12 p.m. ET:

The House quorum call ongoing right now will determine how many members are present and how many votes McCarthy will need to win:

Technically, McCarthy will need a majority of those present and voting for a person to vote for him to win. It remains to be seen how many members are there today.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m. ET:

It looks like that doomsday scenario is becoming more and more likely, as Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) says he will not back McCarthy or Scalise for Speaker:

UPDATE 12:02 p.m. ET:

The House is now and session as the Clerk called the chamber into action and the House Chaplain read an opening prayer.

UPDATE 12:01 p.m. ET:

It is also worth noting that Boebert and Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) took cash from McCarthy in their own reelection battles, highlighting their hypocrisy here:

UPDATE 12:00 p.m. ET:

House members are in the Chamber preparing for the beginning of the quorum call which will begin the speakership election.

UPDATE 11:53 a.m. ET:

Now, former President Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. has joined the fray in ripping McCarthy critics:

There is serious concern rising their actions could lead to the doomsday scenario:

UPDATE 11:50 a.m. ET:

Just moments from the noon quorum call, it is increasingly apparent that McCarthy is likely to lose on the first ballot:

He was successful in showcasing the insanity and illogical nature of those with whom he is negotiating, however, as he has rallied the rest of the Republicans behind him. Whether he can win on a subsequent ballot remains to be seen:

Given that any other candidate who would seek to win with GOP votes only–like House Majority Leader Steve Scalise–would likely rollback any of the concessions that McCarthy made to these conservatives given pressure from the other side of the conference, the likelihood or possibility of what Breitbart News first described as a “doomsday scenario” is becoming more and more realistic.

The “doomsday scenario” means a group of establishment House Republicans would band together with House Democrats–who are unified right now in encouraging the chaos that McCarthy critics are furthering–to elect an establishment Republican as Speaker. In exchange for their votes, the Democrats would demand a change to the House rules that would all but destroy the ability of House Republicans to issue subpoenas to the Biden administration.

UPDATE 11:43 a.m. ET:

Movement conservatives like Ned Ryun are now openly calling out Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), saying the Arizona congressman is a “fraud”:

Again, this is not working out the way the McCarthy critics thought it would at least for now.

UPDATE 11:39 a.m. ET:

Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) made the point that McCarthy critics keep moving the goalposts. That is factually accurate, as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) literally admitted publicly in a press conference after the House GOP conference meeting:

The fact that Boebert is openly admitting to moving the goalposts is a significant development and likely to backfire on the McCarthy critics in a very big way.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. ET:

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) announces he is against McCarthy:

UPDATE 11:12 a.m. ET:

McCarthy, in remarks after the conference meeting of Republicans, noted he has the record for the longest speech on the floor of the House which he gave when trying to hold up Biden’s agenda last year. He said he does not mind setting a record for the most amount of votes to eventually get to the Speakership. McCarthy is quite clearly fighting this out all the way.

UPDATE 11:10 a.m. ET:

Breitbart News’s Ashley Oliver, who is in the Capitol reporting for us today, sends along this update:

UPDATE 10:58 a.m. ET:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) literally admitted in a press conference after the GOP conference meeting that she and others were moving the goalposts in what they were pushing for–she said she wanted a one-member threshold to engage in a motion to vacate the chair. She now says that staff agreed to that, but that she is instead now pushing for more. She added that McCarthy himself has not said that to her yet.

UPDATE 10:50 a.m. ET:

This could actually end very badly for the anti-McCarthy forces if they do not take the wins they have accrued in these negotiations. As Ryan Girdusky points out, a future person not named McCarthy could really screw over conservatives using this chaos as an example:

Girdusky also rightly points out that Cammack is a serious player here and her being on McCarthy’s side is a huge deal:

Meanwhile, if they do end up taking out McCarthy, it is very likely that all of the concessions they have negotiated  from him will be erased with the next man up if that were to happen:

UPDATE 10:43 a.m. ET:

The Democrats are clearly enjoying the circus that the Republicans are creating:

In other words, Democrats intend to use these antics from anti-McCarthy Republicans to inflict as much pain as they possibly can on Republicans on day one of the new Congress.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m. ET:

McCarthy responded to Norman by saying–to wide-scale agreement in conference–that what he is planning on doing will hurt not just him but the whole conference:

This seems to be McCarthy’s strategy this morning at the literal 11th hour: Challenge critics and force them to tell their colleagues why they are doing what they are doing.

And it seems to be working. Very reasonable top conservatives like Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL)–who replaced founding Freedom Caucus member former Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) in their north Florida district–is bashing the organization she helped create. Cammack was Yoho’s chief of staff back when he was in Congress and a leading Freedom Caucus member:

UPDATE 10:33 a.m. ET:

This is an interesting development. In conference, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC)–one of the original five anti-McCarthy votes–says he will vote for Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on the “first ballot”:

The “first ballot” is the key phrase here. He may be going to make his statement there, and then members may coalesce behind McCarthy on a subsequent ballot.

UPDATE 10:31 a.m. ET:

The lack of a serious plan from the McCarthy critics–as Breitbart News has extensively reported, they have no plan and never have had a plan and never intended to develop one–is causing major backlash against their cause from other House Republicans and even empowering people like Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) who is frankly the target of many conservatives’ ire:

UPDATE 10:28 am. ET:

It is very likely the more the McCarthy critics continue down the rabbit hole of illogical insanity steering Republicans towards chaos on their first day of their new majority that they end up paying some kind of consequence for their behavior. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who is likely to chair the House Armed Services Committee for instance, suggested they should lose any and all committee assignments:

Even if they succeed in stopping McCarthy in the end, it is very plausible and perhaps likely that whoever emerges as Speaker–McCarthy or otherwise–would take drastic actions to rein these people in.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m. ET:

This morning, House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) laid out a list of demands that he said McCarthy did not agree to giving–sparking a battle between the two sides of the conference. McCarthy has now taken the fight directly to the membership of the conference in a closed-door full GOP conference meeting, and is winning broad support. He earned a standing ovation in the conference.

Also, last night–something McCarthy reportedly ousted in his speech this morning–several of the anti-McCarthy members admitted they did not care if Democrat leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) won the speakership:

But, in addition to that, McCarthy actually did make serious concessions to his critics–and they are now proving they are not interested in taking the wins they gained, but instead just burning it all down:

This is something that even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has called them out over, insisting that they are clearly not interested in governing but instead just constant chaos:

While McCarthy still seems a long ways off from the votes he needs to win the gavel on Tuesday–quorum call on the floor is at noon–his critics are finally getting called to the mat and exposed for their antics.