House adjourns with no Speaker

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

The House of Representatives adjourned Tuesday without a Speaker after three ballots for the gavel found no candidate with the majority.

Speaker nominee Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) lost 19 GOP votes on the first two ballots and 20 on the third ballot, leaving the conference in a stalemate on how to proceed.

All 434 members voted for a Speaker candidate, meaning 218 votes were needed to secure the post. With 222 House Republicans to 212 Democrats, McCarthy is well short of reaching that threshold.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a McCarthy ally, made the motion to adjourn, and it was adopted by voice vote. The House will return at noon on Wednesday.

It marks the first time in a century that the House has gone to multiple ballots for Speaker. In 1923, the Speaker election took nine ballots over three days.

The repeated failed votes for McCarthy were expected by much of the conference, particularly after rules change concessions and a heated House GOP meeting on Tuesday morning did not move any of McCarthy’s detractors or those on the fence.

The longtime GOP leader’s opponents coalesced around Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for the second and third vote, despite the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman supporting McCarthy and giving a floor speech nominating him ahead of the second ballot.

McCarthy, who remained stoic on the floor during the long voting process even as it became obvious he would lose, remains adamant he will eventually win the gavel.

“Remember how they all said they have this secret candidate? Their secret candidate nominated me, so where do they go now?” McCarthy said, referring to Jordan. “This can’t be about that you’re going to leverage somebody for your own personal gain.”

“I’m staying until we win,” McCarthy added. “It will eventually change.”

McCarthy privately huddled with allies including Jordan and Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) after the second ballot.

But the third vote saw an uptick in the number of McCarthy detractors, with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) flipping to support Jordan after he voted for McCarthy on the first two ballots.

“My concern has been, like, look. It’s been two months, bro. You got to close the deal,” Donalds said, referring to the time between the midterm elections and the start of the Congress. “You got two months. And so at this point now is that if you can’t close it, we got to find who can.”

The continued McCarthy opposition has frustrated his supporters and allies who have pledged to not waver in their support. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) cast her votes for McCarthy as “Only Kevin.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said that the McCarthy antagonists are putting the House GOP on a “path to suicide and getting [President] Biden reelected in ’24.” He said he has heard talk of Republican members negotiating with Dems to nominate a moderate Republican who would be more open to negotiation.

Whether GOP members can come to any agreement is uncertain.

“We’re going to go have some more conversations tonight and see what’s next,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who voted for candidates other than McCarthy on all three ballots.

Al Weaver and Aris Folley contributed.

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