By LISA MASCARO and FARNOUSH AMIRI
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the pressure mounting, the speaker’s seat of the U.S. House of Representatives was empty for a third day Thursday as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed again in the seventh of an excruciating series of votes for win enough votes from your party to seize the chamber. mallet.
One of McCarthy’s staunch critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, even cast his vote for Donald Trump, a symbolic gesture, but one that highlighted the former president’s influence on the Republican Party.
The seventh vote for president was no different from the others, with McCarthy falling well short of the required majority.
McCarthy emerged from a morning meeting with colleagues on Capitol Hill determined to persuade resisting Republicans to end the stalemate that has ruined his new Republican majority.
Despite endless talk, signs of concessions, and a public spectacle unlike any in recent political history, the way forward remained highly uncertain. The day began like the other two, with Republican allies now nominating him for the seventh time as a speaker.
Republican John James of Michigan put McCarthy’s name to a vote, with a nod to history.
“My family has gone from being slaves to the floor of the United States House of Representatives” in five generations, said James, a future lawmaker-elect, who is black.
He said that while House Republicans were “stuck” at the moment, McCarthy, who failed to win a majority to become president, would ultimately win.
Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York was re-elected by the Democrats.
Reluctants in the Republican Party again proposed the name of Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, assuring the stalemate that had increasingly racial and political overtones would continue.
Donalds, who is black, is seen as a future party leader and counterpoint to Democratic leader Jeffries, who is the first black leader of a major political party in the US Congress, on track to become a speaker someday. day.
“We could have elected the first black speaker in the United States House,” said conservative Republican Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who renominated Donalds on Thursday.
Democrats rose to their feet in applause, as Jeffries is, in fact, the closest to the deck with the most votes on each ballot thus far.
What began as a political novelty, the first time in 100 years that a candidate did not win the deck on the first ballot, has turned into a bitter GOP feud and deepening potential crisis.
McCarthy is under increasing pressure from restless Republicans and Democrats to find the votes he needs or step aside, so the House can open up fully and get on with the business of governing. His detractors on his right flank seem determined to wait for him, as long as it takes.
“We are having good discussions and I think everyone wants to find a solution,” McCarthy told reporters shortly before the House was set to begin session again.
House Chaplain Margaret Kibben opened the session for the day, perhaps the last of the week, and called for greater powers to “calm the storms of dissent.”
The House, which is half of Congress, is essentially at a standstill as McCarthy has failed, vote after vote, to win the speaker’s gavel in a grueling spectacle for all the world to see. The votes have produced almost the same result, 20 Conservatives still refusing to support him and leaving him well short of the 218 normally needed to win the deck.
In fact, McCarthy saw his support drop to 201 as a fellow Republican went to vote simply present.
“I think people need to work a little harder,” McCarthy said Wednesday as they prepared to adjourn for the night. “I don’t think a vote tonight will make any difference. But a vote in the future could.”
With the House resuming at noon on Thursday, it could be a long day. The new Republican majority was not expected to be in session on Friday, which is the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. A protracted and divisive speakers fight would surely underscore the fragility of American democracy after the attempted insurrection of two years ago.
“All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body,” former California Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet.
Pelosi also said that the “arrogant attitude of Republicans in electing a president is frivolous, disrespectful, and unworthy of this institution. We must open the House and proceed with the work of the Town”.
Some Republicans seem increasingly uncomfortable with the way House Republicans have taken over after the midterms only to see the house upended by the president’s race in his early days in the new majority. .
Colorado Republican Ken Buck voted for McCarthy but said Wednesday that he told him he “needs to figure out how to make a deal to move forward” or eventually step aside for someone else.
McCarthy vowed to fight to the last for the speaker’s seat in a battle that had plunged the new majority into tumult during the first days of the new Congress.
Right-wing conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with former President Donald Trump, seemed emboldened by the standoff, even though Trump publicly endorsed McCarthy.
“This is truly an invigorating day for America,” said Florida Republican Donalds, who was nominated three times by his conservative colleagues as an alternative. “There are a lot of members in the chamber who want to have serious conversations about how we can bring this all to a close and pick a speaker.”
The disorganized start to the new Congress signaled difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, in the same way that some previous Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rogue right flank. The result: government shutdowns, clashes, and early retirement for Boehner.
A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda, want to change business as usual in Washington and have vowed to stop McCarthy’s rise without compromising his priorities.
But even Trump’s strongest supporters disagreed on this issue. Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert, who nominated Donalds for the second time, called on the former president to tell McCarthy: “Sir, he doesn’t have the votes and it’s time to retire.”
By McCarthy’s own reckoning, he needs to win over a dozen Republicans who have so far denied him their endorsement as he pushes for the job he’s always wanted.
To win support, McCarthy has already conceded to many of the demands of Freedom Caucus members, who have been calling for rule changes and other concessions that give rank-and-file members more influence.
For the most part, the holdouts led by the Freedom Caucus are looking for ways to reduce the power of the speaker’s office and give grassroots legislators more influence in the legislative process, with seats on key committees and the ability to write and amend bills. law in a freer process for all. McCarthy conceded to some changes in a rule pack released over New Year’s weekend, but for some it didn’t go far enough.
Not all of McCarthy’s opponents have the same complaints, and he may never be able to win over some of them. A small core group of Republicans appears unwilling to vote for McCarthy.
“I am ready to vote all night, all week, all month and never for that person,” said Florida Republican Gaetz.
Since 1923, the choice of a speaker had not gone through multiple ballots. The longest fight for the gavel began in late 1855 and lasted for two months, with 133 votes, during the slavery debates in the run-up to the Civil War.
AP writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.