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McCarthy gains several GOP votes but still lacks majority to win House speaker

Kevin McCarthy
Posted at 2:50 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 16:50:30-05

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying again Friday to muster a majority on the floor to win the race for speaker after falling short in 13 rounds of voting, now into its fourth day this week.

Though Republicans have not reached a deal yet, McCarthy predicted before the House convened Friday, "You'll see some people who have been voting against me voting for me." He was right — in the 12th round of voting over a dozen holdouts and a lawmaker who had said "present" in the past few rounds switched their votes in his favor.

In the 13th round, he gained one more, but still fell a few votes short. Two GOP members who missed the first votes Friday plan to return to Washington Friday night. If no one leaves, there will be 434 lawmakers voting, and McCarthy will need 218 to win. He had 214 in the 13th round. He will have to flip two holdouts or at least convince three holdouts to vote "present."

After the House adjourned until 10 p.m., McCarthy declared, "I'll have the votes" as he walked from the floor to his office.

Friday marked the first day McCarthy had a greater number of votes than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries.

The speaker's election has not exceeded nine rounds since before the Civil War.

On Friday morning, just before a 10:15 a.m. GOP conference call to present the framework of a deal with some of the GOP holdouts opposing him, McCarthy told CBS News, "We're going to shock you." But after that conference call, two people on the call told CBS News no deal had been reached.

McCarthy made two key concessions to the 21 conservative holdouts on Wednesday. The first would lower the threshold for the motion to vacate the chair to just one House member, meaning that any single member could call for a vote to oust the speaker. The second would give the GOP holdouts the power to pick two of the nine members of the House Rules Committee, which holds considerable power over which legislation goes to the floor.

Despite those compromises, none of the holdouts supported McCarthy in any of the four rounds of voting on Thursday.

The continuing impasse leaves the House effectively in limbo, since lawmakers must first elect a speaker before moving on to other business in the new Congress.

Democrats have remained united behind New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the first Black party leader in either chamber of Congress. Jeffries and his lieutenants said Democrats "are united and are committed to staying in Washington for as long as it takes to get the Congress organized."

Ellis Kim, Rebecca Kaplan and Alan He contributed to this report.