WASHINGTON (AP) — For the third day in a row, a bloc of ultra-conservative bombers denied Republican leader Kevin McCarthy the speaking gavel Thursday, even after he caved to a series of concessions demanded by right-wing Republicans.
It marked the 11th straight loss for McCarthy, who vowed to keep fighting. While he still retained the support of roughly 90% of his fellow Republicans, conservative rebels rallied Thursday and were able to stop McCarthy from securing the simple House majority needed to be elected president (a number that may change). .
The House adjourned Thursday night without a speaker and will return at noon Friday.
«We’re working on it, we’re making progress,» McCarthy told reporters as he left the chamber.
Asked if the concessions and multiple failed votes would undermine his power if he wins the presidency, McCarthy said he didn’t think they would. It’s not how you start, it’s how you end. And if we finish well, we’ll be very successful,» McCarthy said.
Thursday was a repeat of the previous two days when the small group of rebels rejected McCarthy in six consecutive votes, all of them televised. Because Republicans won a slim majority in November, nearly all of its 222 members will need to agree to an election for speaker before any other House business can move forward.
While the 20 Conservatives stood united in opposition to McCarthy during Thursday’s vote, they backed different candidates for president. Most continued to support Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida as speaker, while other McCarthy opponents voted for Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, the leader of the so-called Never Kevins who vowed never to support McCarthy, nominated and voted for former President Donald Trump multiple times Thursday. (The Speaker of the House need not be a member of Congress.)
When asked what the end of the game was, Gaetz replied: «Kevin McCarthy’s loss… As long as it takes.»
Fierce infighting within the GOP over who should be the next speaker has paralyzed the House of Representatives, preventing lawmakers from being sworn in, delaying hiring and stalling the GOP’s legislative agenda and committee investigations.
«I think it’s bad, bad for the brand of the Republican Party,» said moderate Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, a McCarthy supporter. “People all over the United States are not going to say, ‘That’s those 20.’ They’re going to group us.»
While McCarthy’s allies and enemies remained stalemate, there were some real signs of progress before Thursday.
After the failed sixth ballot Wednesday night, McCarthy and his most trusted allies met with their most ardent opponents for more than two hours in the first-floor Capitol Hill office of Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn. Most left the meeting saying there had been gradual progress and talks between the opposing factions continued throughout Thursday in that same office.
«I crawl before I walk, I walk before I run,» a still-upbeat McCarthy told reporters after the meeting. «And I felt like we had a really good discussion.»
During the course of that private meeting, one of the conservatives’ demands was met. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the McCarthy-aligned super PAC, and the conservative Club For Growth, which has opposed McCarthy’s run for president, announced a détente: CLF would not spend money to endorse candidates in open Republican district primaries. safe republicans; in return, Club for Growth endorsed McCarthy as a speaker.
McCarthy also offered a package of key concessions to his right-wing detractors, including reinstating a rule under which a single House member could force a vote to oust the president in the middle of Congress, according to Gaetz. Previously, McCarthy had agreed that a «motion to vacate» could only be made with the support of at least five members.
“Anyone, anywhere, anytime,” Gaetz said of members of power who will have to ask for a vote of confidence in their speaker.
Gaetz said McCarthy has also agreed to place members of the far-right Freedom Caucus on key committees such as the influential Rules Committee, which determines how a bill is presented.
«We just talked. I’m not sure any needle has moved,» Norman said as he exited negotiations on Wednesday.
On Thursday, one of McCarthy’s opponents accused the other party of leaking information from the talks. «No deal is done,» said Rep. Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who again voted against McCarthy on Thursday. tweeted. «When confidences are betrayed and leaks are targeted, it’s even harder to trust.»
Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C., a McCarthy ally and former deputy chief who attended the talks Wednesday and Thursday, sounded optimistic, saying the two sides are working to get «assurances» on both rules and security. policies.
“Today, we are making the right progress in bringing this together and leader McCarthy becoming President McCarthy,” McHenry told reporters on Thursday. «I think we have the right contours that allow us to get to Kevin McCarthy for a majority vote.»
By giving too much to the Freedom Caucus, McCarthy could alienate the moderate allies whose support he needs to hold the fragile Republican coalition together. Some centrists scoffed at a conservative demand for hammers from the subcommittee for McCarthy holdouts.
«It’s impossible,» said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, the outgoing leader of the pro-business Main Street Caucus. «For most of us, we work hard to move up in these positions by being a team player.»
«Say ‘I’ll vote for you if you give me a subcommittee chair’? We don’t like that quid pro quo.»
frank thorp, Liz Brown-Kaiser, Olympia Sonnier, kate santaliz, gary grumbach , Ali Vitali Y zoe richards contributed.