Rogers urges unity for Republicans in speaker vote

Jan. 5—As Dean of the House of Representatives, Somerset Congressman Hal Rogers is prepared to swear in the Speaker of the House for the new year — if only a speaker could be elected.

As of 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, the House failed to elect a speaker after two days and six rounds of voting. The chamber was expected to be in recess until 8 p.m., when another vote was planned to take place.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Congressman Rogers sent this statement to the Commonwealth Journal:

"The Republican Party needs to unite so we can get to work for the American people and move forward. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has been the party leader in the House for several years, and his proven leadership would undoubtedly carry us far. As Dean of the House, I look forward to swearing in the new Speaker of the House, and I am encouraging my colleagues to show comity and strength for the party and this great nation."

The Republican-controlled House would normally be a shoe-in to elect a speaker, but the party's current leader, McCarthy, has failed to gather the 218-vote majority to take the seat.

There are 222 Republican congressmen and women, but a voting bloc of 20 Republicans — most of them closely aligned with former President Donald Trump — have taken to voting for their own nominee, first Jim Jordan from Ohio, then Byron Donalds from Florida.

Without those votes, the frontrunner for the speaker position currently is Democrat Hakeem Jeffries. But although he currently has more votes than McCarthy — 212 to 201 — he, too, is short of the majority. He is also unlikely to pick up more votes from the Republican side to gain that majority.

It was the first time in 100 years that a nominee for House speaker could not take the gavel on the first vote. As of Wednesday evening, McCarthy appeared undeterred. Instead, he vowed to fight to the finish.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Carla Slavey can be reached at cslavey@somerset-kentucky.com