In a twelfth vote for House Speaker held on Friday, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy lost again — although by less than before, potentially coming close to actually securing the role.
It was the first vote out of the dozen in which his support grew from the most recent results, although he was still short of a majority of the votes cast. The majority is defined here by House members present and participating (meaning not just voting “present”). With a few absences, it wasn’t a majority out of 435 he needed, but he still didn’t manage to flip enough of the Republican holdouts to provide him a win. His vote total was reported as 213, which was below a majority of 431. The thin, incoming House Republican majority meant as recent circumstances have shown that even a small group within the party could sufficiently split the Republican vote to push McCarthy below the needed level. Still, over a dozen of the Republicans previously opposing him changed their positions on the twelfth balloting. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert were among those still resisting.
The eventual changes in results in McCarthy’s favor — after nearly a dozen other votes — emerged after reports of potential concessions like allowing any single House member to force a vote in the chamber on ousting the Speaker. Assuming Kevin eventually secures the role, it’s difficult to imagine Boebert, Gaetz, or other persistent holdouts not taking up the implicit offer there, leading to further procedural chaos. Also under discussion was potentially allowing presumably the far-right Republicans opposing McCarthy to pick one-third of the GOP members on the House rules panel, which handles matters heading to the House floor.
The GOP opposition to McCarthy persisted, including in previous votes when nearly two dozen Republicans declined to support his bid, even after an endorsement and what was apparently direct outreach to opponents from Donald Trump. As a gesture it was never clear would go much of anywhere, Gaetz cast his votes for Speaker for Trump at least a couple times. Other Republicans still refusing to support McCarthy on the twelfth go-around included Arizona’s Andy Biggs. Whenever Kevin or anybody else gets into power, recently enacted protections will help stop a repeat of some of the legislative threats seen on January 6. Now, one-fifth of the House (and the same portion of the Senate) will need to back any objection to particular electoral votes before it goes to debate and a vote.