WASHINGTON — One of Kevin McCarthy’s top antagonists almost missed his chance to vote against the California Republican for House speaker on Thursday because he was talking on TV.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) was being interviewed live on Fox News from a camera just outside the House chamber while the House wrapped up its seventh vote on who should lead the institution. Reporters observed Perry’s colleagues trying to get his attention.
“Scott, you’re going to miss the vote,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) is interviewed as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington on Thursday. Perry narrowly missed casting his vote because he was conducting the interview.
Inside the chamber, the clerk invited any members who hadn’t voted to come to the “well” of the House floor to do so. Perry entered the chamber, walked up to the dais, and was told he had not been recorded. He then cast his vote for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).
“I was talking to folks and I was late, that’s all,” Perry told HuffPost afterward. “You ever been late to anything?”
He added that talking on TV was useful because the American people “deserve to know what’s going on.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the House has held nine votes for speaker and each time McCarthy has failed to secure a majority. It wouldn’t have affected the outcome if Perry had missed the vote, but there has been so little variation from ballot to ballot that lawmakers have looked to even tiny changes as signals of one side or the other gaining momentum. When Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) started voting “present” on Wednesday, for instance, after having voted for McCarthy on Tuesday, that was a big deal.
Over the course of three days, members have increasingly drifted in and out of the chamber while the clerk calls out their names in alphabetical order. Perry and other McCarthy opponents, in particular, have been huddling in rooms around the Capitol as McCarthy tries to win them over.
Perry, chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has led the opposition to McCarthy, portraying him as a creature of the D.C. swamp who will do nothing to stand up to Democrats and control wasteful government spending. (Perry was also deeply involved in former President Donald Trump’s effort to overthrow the 2020 election.)
Perry and his colleagues have no alternative candidate who can garner much support among Republicans, however, and they have apparently balked at McCarthy’s offers to change House rules in order to empower rank-and-file lawmakers. The standoff has no end in sight.
But there’s one thing Perry and his gang are definitely getting out of the standoff so far: lots of attention and TV time.