The House Remains without a Speaker After Two Days and Six Unsuccessful Ballots

The opening legislative day of the 118th Congress will continue Thursday.  After six ballots, the House has been thus far unable to elect a Speaker.  Because the election of the Speaker is the first order of business in a new Congress, nothing else can proceed.  The Members themselves haven’t even been sworn in.  Tensions and frustration grew throughout the day. 

The House did vote to adjourn last night until noon today.  The adjournment vote itself was close – two Democrats missed the vote, which resulted in the adjournment passing by a two-vote margin.  Republican holdouts and supporters of Kevin McCarthy spent much of last night trying to reach an agreement.  Both sides reported progress and a sense of momentum.  But there isn’t a signed seal and delivered deal yet. 

The negotiations are largely centered around the rules by which the House will operate – and who gets on which committees.  But one central demand of the Freedom Caucus from the start has been that the House not vote on any legislation until 72 hours after it is released.  The Rules package – which is the subject of these negotiations – is a piece of legislation.  Presumably, that means if a deal is reached, the House will have to wait 72 hours to vote on the Speaker and Rules package.  The bottom line – there is a strong sense that House will not elect a Speaker today.  The House was scheduled to leave town today – but that could change. 

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