House adjourns without a speaker as Kevin McCarthy fails on sixth ballot

Republican Kevin McCarthy

House Republicans, in turmoil, were unable to elect a speaker as GOP nominee Kevin McCarthy failed on the sixth ballot.

Republicans have a majority but 20 hard-core extremists kept McCarthy from getting a sufficient number in the sixth round of voting for a speaker over two days.

After the latest tally, the House adjourned until 8 p.m., giving Republicans time to confer on their next move.

Twenty Republicans voted for Byron Donalds as an alternative to McCarthy. One Republican, Victoria Spartz, voted present.

Donalds, 44, one of the few Black Republicans in Congress, has represented a Florida district since 2021.

Republican Robert Good, who lived in North Jersey before moving to Lynchburg, Virginia, with his family at age nine, says it’s a “technical possibility” that Democrats could strike a deal with Republicans to elect a more moderate speaker, but he’s not worried.

Good says fatigue with Kevin McCarthy is growing and predicts that “you may see significant attrition in the vote tonight.”

Republicans “are increasingly ready, I believe, to look at other candidates,” said Good.

Under current House rules, a candidate needs an outright majority of all members voting to be elected speaker. With 433 members voting so far — and one member voting “present,” which doesn’t affect the total — that means McCarthy has repeatedly fallen far short of the 217 needed to win.

The rules, however, can be changed: With a simple majority vote, the House could decide to allow a speaker to be elected with a plurality, or whoever has the most votes when no one has a majority. This has happened before, but very rarely.

It’s called the “nuclear option” because it would force anti-McCarthy voters to face a stark choice: vote for him or watch Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries get elected instead. After all, Jeffries has received 212 votes in every single round so far and the most McCarthy has received has been 203.

It is not known if those 20 renegade Republicans would continue to vote against McCarthy if doing so would result in electing a Democrat as speaker.

Advocates of the nuclear option say the change would force the defectors to vote for McCarthy or take the blame for losing control of the House to Democrats.

According to two McCarthy allies in the House, the idea is being discussed among Republicans who believe Democrats would support the rules change.

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