For a long and frustrating third day, divided Republicans kept the Speaker’s chair of the U.S. House sitting empty Thursday, as party leader Kevin McCarthy failed again and again in an excruciating string of ballots to win enough Republican votes to seize the chamber’s gavel.
By nightfall, despite raucous protests from Democrats, Republicans voted to adjourn and return Friday at noon to try again.
Pressure was building as McCarthy lost seventh, eighth and then historic ninth and 10th rounds of voting, surpassing the number it took the last time this happened, 100 years ago, in a prolonged fight to choose a Speaker in a disputed election. The House then moved onto an 11th round, which McCarthy proceeded to lose again.
McCarthy’s leadership team had presented a core group of the Republican holdouts with a deal on paper in exchange for their support, said one of the opponents, conservative Republican Ralph Norman of South Carolina, as he exited a late-day meeting.
“It’s good,” Norman said, about changes that would include mandating 72 hours for bills to be posted before votes, though details were scarce.
Lest hopes get ahead of reality, he noted, “This is round one.”
One of the holdouts’ key asks is to reinstate a rule that would allow a single lawmaker to seek a motion to vacate the chair — essentially to call a House vote to oust the Speaker. It’s the same rule a previous era of tea party Republicans used to threaten the removal of Republican Speaker John Boehner, and McCarthy has resisted reinstating it.
But those opposing McCarthy do not all have the same complaints, and he may never be able to win over some of them. A small core group of Republicans appear unwilling to ever vote for McCarthy.
“I’m ready to vote all night, all week, all month and never for that person,” said Gaetz.