WASHINGTON — After Republican Kevin McCarthy of California failed to win enough votes to become Speaker of the House of Representatives after six rounds of voting on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mary Miller from Illinois emerged as one of a solid block of 20 GOP holdouts.
The House adjourned Wednesday night, instead holding a seventh vote to McCarthy, who would lose and will meet again on Thursday at noon.
Still, behind-the-scenes negotiations could ultimately yield the 218 votes McCarthy needed, according to Illinois Republican Darin LaHood, a staunch McCarthy supporter trying to broker an agreement.
“I believe we are making progress. Both sides are working diligently together,” LaHood told the Sun-Times on Wednesday night after the vote was postponed.
McCarthy has few members left – he needs to find 218 votes from 222 House Republicans. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday night that “a lot of progress has been made.” Nevertheless, his vote tally ranged from 201 to 203, showing the uphill battle he faces with hard-liners, whose ranks include Miller.
LaHood, of Peoria, said the timing of the deal was unclear. “It’s a very tortured process,” he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” talks are ongoing, he said.
Many of the unresolved issues have to do with the rules for how the House is run — and, on the political side, whether there is a deal on the GOP leadership and affiliated political groups staying out of the Republican House primaries.
Miller is from the 15th Congressional District, anchored in safe, heavily Republican turf southern Illinois. Miller is an Oakland farmer who grew up in suburban Naperville and is married to her like-minded husband, GOP state representative Chris Miller.
Miller defeated former Representative Rodney Davis, R-Ill., in the June 28 Illinois primary. Miller won a second term in November after defeating former President Donald J. Trump took huge advantage of the support he had received near the start of his campaign.
Although Trump urged House Republicans to support McCarthy, 20 against McCarthy stood firmly against him, indicating Trump’s lack of influence in this fight.
Miller is one of the members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden as President on January 6, 2021. She is a member of the very conservative Freedom Caucus. It is also an electoral denial. His reputation has been engaged more in ideological issues than in district-specific legislation.
In October, a New York Times study found Miller to be one of the most polarizing figures in Congress, based on his tweets. Miller’s rhetoric was characterized by leading analysis of how “incendiary rhetoric fuels polarization”.
“I don’t think anybody from Illinois would be surprised by that vote,” Davis said Tuesday on CNN, regarding Miller not endorsing McCarthy.
The Illinois delegation sends three Republicans and 14 Democrats to the House, which is at a standstill because no members can be sworn in until a speaker is elected.
Illinois Republican Mike Bose, who is in line to chair the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, was part of a group of GOP members who urged support for McCarthy at a press conference on Wednesday.
Bosse from Murphysboro said the House had shut down. “We can’t stop it [Biden] Do our job of administration and oversight that is given to us in the constitution until we have a president.
Working in McCarthy’s favor Wednesday night — and designed to appeal to the 20 — were announcements from the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Club for Growth. The Congressional Leadership Fund pledged not to spend money on open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.
The Club for Growth – heavily bankrolled by Lake Forest Republican mega-donor Richard Uhlin – said the group would support McCarthy if a deal is reached pending a deal regarding its concerns about the rules. The political arm of the Club for Growth spent more than $2.5 million on behalf of Miller in his primary against Davis. While Trump’s urging members didn’t move Miller to vote for McCarthy — one of Trump’s most ardent supporters among Illinois elected officials — perhaps McCarthy’s endorsement by the Club for Growth will.
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