The midterm elections are over, the government is divided, and the balance of power rests on razor-thin margins in both chambers of Congress but the comedy is just beginning as Republicans appear to be incapable of organizing the United States House of Representatives to begin proceedings.
Kevin McCarthy flipped about a dozen of the Republicans that had previously voted against him but on day 4 of the House speaker fight, he’s still short of achieving the majority of votes needed to claim the position.
McCarthy gained the first sign of progress after a week of frantic negotiating but still lost his 12th speaker ballot Friday and with five Republicans voting for someone else halfway into the 13th round, McCarthy appears slated to remain a loser.
If McCarthy does eventually become House speaker, he will have managed to surrender much of the job’s power to the 20 dissenters that have kept his leadership quest on hold while slowly stripping him of dignity.
Ahead of the latest round of balloting, McCarthy told reporters at the US Capitol, “Watch here and you’ll see some people who have been voting against me voting for me.”
Then he wound up with 214 votes — marking the first team McCarthy eclipsed Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, who has consistently garnered 212 votes — but the GOP leaders remained short of the 218 votes required to secure the speakership.
House moved to a 13th ballot for House speaker after a package of concessions offered by McCarthy placated some Republicans who have blocked his speakership over four days of voting while at least seven dissidents vowed that he will not get their votes.
McCarthy’s continued pursuit of the gavel was an “exercise in vanity,” according to Rep. Matt Gaetz, who slammed his fellow Republican for remaining a candidate for speaker after not reaching the vote he needs after 11 ballots.
“You only earn the position of Speaker of the House. If you can get the votes. Mr. McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year,” said Gaetz.
Veterans of the recent GOP civil wars privately say that Republicans have set themselves up for failure because McCarthy’s emissaries have caved to demands that would jeopardize his chances at having any lasting legacy in the once powerful post.
The California Republican offered up a set of obscure-but-critical changes to House rules that could put him back on a path to eventually win. But those changes could lead to McCarthy’s relatively speedy exit from speaker’s suites with little to show for his tenure, further destabilizing an institution that is already generously described as dysfunctional.
“Kevin McCarthy has nothing left to give away. He’s given away everything including his dignity, and it’s still not enough for these guys,” said Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee for the last five years. “And the problem is, if it’s not McCarthy or whoever else they decide to put up there, he is now locked into these crazy rules changes and is going to have to follow all these nutty demands.”
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