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Politics & Policy

McCarthy fails sixth straight vote as ill-fated speaker bid drags on

Kevin McCarthy stands in media scrum
U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to media as he heads to the House Chamber during the second day of elections for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington, D.C. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Bakersfield Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy has again failed to be elected speaker of the House of Representatives after a sixth ballot on Wednesday, garnering only 201 votes.

The House voted to adjourn for the evening, kicking further votes on House Speaker to Thursday.

Bumping up against a hard-right faction of his party, McCarthy had already failed three votes on Tuesday before Wednesday’s fourth, fifth and sixth votes but has vowed to press on with his bid. McCarthy needs 218 votes to win a majority, and the congressional chamber cannot conduct any official business until a speaker is elected.

On Wednesday, the spoiler was Florida Republican Byron Donalds. Donalds was first nominated yesterday by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. Roy placed Donalds’ name into nomination again today. Donalds garnered 20 votes.

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries was again nominated by San Bernardino Rep. Pete Aguilar. Supported by all 212 Democrats in the House, Jeffries again won a plurality of votes in the fourth and fifth votes for Speaker, being supported by all 212 Democrats in the House.

Donalds represents the 19th Congressional District of Florida and is a member of the Freedom Caucus, which has launched the insurgent campaign to block McCarthy. He also voted to block certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election.

McCarthy lost a vote from Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz, who voted “present” in this morning’s ballot. Spartz voted for McCarthy in multiple ballots yesterday.

A “present” vote can reduce the necessary threshold for electing the speaker. Spartz’ present vote, along with the steady 20 votes from the anti-McCarthy MAGA bloc, may indicate further loss of momentum for McCarthy.

On Wednesday afternoon, reports trickled in from the Beltway that some Democrats could offer to cut a deal in exchange for voting for McCarthy and ending the stalemate. Meanwhile, Roy told reporters that “progress” had been made on Wednesday although McCarthy repeatedly fell far short of a majority.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Joe Biden called the spectacle “embarrassing.”

“I have no idea” who will win, Biden told the Associated Press.