Kevin McCarthy is making his bid for the speaker’s gavel for a historic third day after Republicans adjourned on Wednesday without a single defector.
McCarthy made the decision on Wednesday after a mix of his supporters and his most ardent holdouts braced for any means to break the high-stakes impasse – which has humiliated the GOP on the national stage.
But, so far, such an agreement has remained elusive. And while some members believe it may still be entirely impossible, they are unwilling to draw any major conclusions from a simple procedural vote on the floor.
“I’ll be optimistic when I see white smoke coming out of the chimney,” said Rep. steve womack (R-Ark.), a McCarthy aide. While he said progress can “hopefully” happen overnight, he added, “hope is never a method.”
Still, after temperatures rose during several closed-door GOP meetings this week — and six rounds of failed ballots drew comparisons to “Groundhog Day” — many Republicans insisted they were feeling more optimistic as they headed into Wednesday. Leaving the Capitol at night. But many members cautioned that it was impossible to know whether there was a compromise that would prompt McCarthy’s most obstinate opposition to change position.
They may find out soon. McCarthy’s team presented a proposal Wednesday night that would meet nearly every demand expressed by his defectors. But it was still unclear whether this would be enough to sway those lawmakers over to his side.
As true as one of McCarthy’s chief detractors, Rep. chip roy (R-Texas) said he was still digesting his most recent conversation with leadership and held back from making any new commitments: “There are a lot of details here that matter … I’ll have to see that.” What are we talking about.”
The House’s vote to adjourn Wednesday night — the GOP’s first successful vote of their majority — was, for some, a sign that some members were ready to budge. A senior Republican, Rep. hal rogers (R-Q.), offered this assessment: “Hard to say but it’s probably good news.”
That dose of optimism comes at a crucial time for Republicans, as signs of desperation continued to mount throughout the day Wednesday amid a paralyzed — and increasingly furious — GOP convention.
One of them, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (RN.J.), comparing the process to Dante’s nine circles of hell: “I am in at least one of them now.”
With no movement, the New Jersey Republican suggested that party leaders “get everyone back in the caucus room and start beating the daylights out of each other until we get nowhere.”
There is no end in sight to the GOP impasse, and lawmakers’ determination to resolve the insurmountable impasse is becoming increasingly frantic. He has also rolled out a series of far-reaching ideas for his allies and even Democrats.
Another strategy under consideration is arguably more risky for Republicans: some McCarthy aides have privately proposed electing the House leader through a plurality of votes rather than a majority. That route, which one Republican described as the “nuclear option,” aims to force conservatives to back the GOP leader or risk handing the gavel to incoming Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (Dn.Y.).
Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe these strategies are seriously on the table. Still, it’s a sign of growing Republican fatigue and frustration as they see no clear way to choose a speaker after two days of votes and months of bargaining.
“It’s like O.J.
A GOP aide mused: “Is it a less bloody version of World War I this time around?”
Even some Democrats are so concerned about the situation that they have contacted Republicans — through floor talks, phone calls and even private meetings — to discuss possible ways forward. But many Democrats caution that these talks about coming to power-sharing or some other cooperative agreement are not serious discussions to help the GOP out of its own crisis.
While it may still happen, they insist there is no widespread appetite for easing the GOP’s suffering, at least not yet.
“We were talking about ideas,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who, along with Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), was on the Republican side of the floor Wednesday to speak with Rep. Paul Gosar. crossed the (R-Ariz.) As Democrats wondered how it might all end.
As the vote tally mounted, House Republicans remained almost completely still on a second day of public reckoning over the future of their convention. McCarthy’s gang of dissidents — labeled the “Taliban 19” by their own allies — are now rolling tape on an uglier and more drawn-out sequel to McCarthy’s failed 2015 bid for the top gavel. And this time, he likely won’t have another chance at redemption.
On each vote, the California Republican repeatedly failed to win over the 20 conservatives who voted against him on Tuesday. Some Republicans predicted that their number of defectors would increase but, in fact, the number of anti-McCarthy votes remained mostly stable. A member, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who is weighing a Senate bid, voted on every ballot Wednesday after previously endorsing McCarthy.
Behind the scenes, several of McCarthy’s key allies have attempted to back-channel with his defectors. A GOP lawmaker who attended those meetings said Wednesday night’s conversation was the first time members gathered in a room and didn’t actually voice each other — though he acknowledged things were still heated.
GOP lawmakers across party agree it is a complete unknown what will happen next. However, the extra time also gave members an opportunity to cluster and hold talks about who could possibly replace McCarthy. Some say they cannot fully address that question while McCarthy is still in the running, as his aides insist that there are dozens, perhaps as many as 80, “Kevin Only” members among other possibilities. refusing to listen to.
For now, GOP leaders aren’t allowing any daylight in their top ranks.
repealed. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 House Republican who has been floated as a potential Plan B candidate, agreed that some progress has been made, but declined to specify what is being discussed.
“There has been a lot of conversation about the issues that have been at the center of this since its inception, and how we can better make Congress work to meet the needs of struggling families.”
And there’s another factor at play outside the Capitol halls: whether Trump uses his power — which isn’t as strong as it once was — to pressure some of the “no” votes to flip. On his social media platforms Wednesday morning, Trump reiterated his support, despite growing speculation that he was leaning from his endorsement of the GOP leader.
“We had some really good conversations last night, and now is the time for all members of our great Republican House to vote for Kevin, to close the deal, to win,” he wrote.
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.
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