Holdouts Push Speaker Vote into 12th Ballot

The Speaker election in the House of Representatives remains unresolved after an historic 11 ballots.  The House will reconvene at noon today and will try again.

On the floor, the stalemate has continued, and the vote counts really haven’t changed.  Kevin McCarthy can only lose four Republican votes, and currently, 21 are not supporting him.  The Democrat nominee, Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) continues to hold unanimous Democratic support.  Off the floor, however, negotiations between the Republican holdouts and McCarthy’s team have picked up and reportedly made significant progress.  Whether it will be enough to sway a sufficient number of the holdouts remains unclear. 

The negotiations center around the balance of power between the Speaker and rank and file Members.  90 percent or so of the Republican conference wants the Speaker to retain the traditional powers that allow him or her to exercise controls and levers needed to advance legislation.  With a slim majority, most Republican House members believe it is even more important to have a powerful Speaker.  The holdouts have an opposite view.  They believe rank and file Members have been increasingly shut out of the legislative process as more and more legislation is drafted by Leadership and fewer and fewer amendment votes are allowed on the House floor.  The debate – as it plays out on CSPAN with round after round of voting – looks like chaos.  For the new House Republican majority, it is a less-than-ideal beginning.

What is happening, however, is not unlike what happens after elections in multi-party parliamentary democracies.  Except in this case, the coalition power-sharing agreement is being worked out within the Republican party itself rather than multi-parties who won a share of the seats in the election.  And it is being negotiated in real time as voting for the Speaker occurs on the House floor. 

The House will convene at noon today and the first order of business is the election of the Speaker.  Many Members now expect votes to continue through the weekend.  A significant number of the holdouts appear to want a deal and are prepared to support McCarthy if an agreement can be reached.  But a smaller number of “Never Kevin” Members, led by Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) continue to insist they will not vote for McCarthy for Speaker under any circumstance.  If McCarthy can limit the number of “Never Kevin” to just four Republican Members, he has a path to the Speakership. 

CSPAN viewers have enjoyed some unprecedented camera angles this week of the House floor.  The cameras have captured many of the discussions and arguments amongst the Members on the floor they never have shown before.  House rules dictate what angles CSPAN can show viewers.  But since the House has not passed a Rules package (and can’t until after the election of Speaker) there are no rules and CSPAN is free to show what they want.  It has made the monotonous roll call votes about as exciting as calling out 435 names over and over again can get. 

McCarthy fails on 11th ballot amid hopes for tentative deal with conservatives 
It's unlikely that the potential package of concessions to his critics will get the GOP leader the votes he needs to claim the gavel. 
By Olivia Beavers, Sarah Ferris, Jordain Carney and Rachael Bade 
January 5, 2023 – 8:15pm 
Consequences of paralyzed House coming into focus 
No official business can be conducted until a speaker is chosen. 
ABC News 
By Benjamin Siegel 
January 5, 2023 – 8:50pm 
Trump’s clout takes hit from Speaker’s fight 
The Hill 
By Julia Manchester 
January 6, 2023 – 6:00am 
Putin Calls a 36-Hour Cease-Fire, but Ukraine and U.S. Are Skeptical 
The cease-fire would coincide with the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Saturday, but Kremlin adversaries and some analysts call it a ploy for military and political advantage. 
The New York Times 
By Anatoly Kurmanaev 
January 5, 2023 
Biden announces major border strategy shift, expands Trump policy 
Los Angeles Times 
By Hamed Aleaziz and Courtney Subramanian 
January 5, 2023 – 5:19pm 
Biden convenes first Cabinet meeting of 2023, touts accomplishments
The Washington Times 
By Jeff Mordock 
January 5, 2023