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House speaker race upended as GOP infighting sinks McCarthy on first two ballots: live updates

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House speaker race upended as GOP infighting sinks McCarthy on first two ballots: live updates

WASHINGTON—House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed to gain enough votes on the first two ballots to become speaker of the House on Tuesday, throwing the new GOP majority into further turmoil and uncertainty.

McCarthy secured only 203 votes in the first round, far less than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post; 19 other Republicans voted for other candidates; McCarthy even trailed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who had the support of all 212 Democrats.

The official vote for the second round was still being tallied as of 3:20 p.m., but McCarthy appeared to set to lose that ballot, as well.

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The last time the vote for a new speaker went past the first ballot was 100 years ago, in 1923. The loss underscores how Republican infighting between moderates and hardliners will complicate the GOP’s majority in the House of Representatives.

Nor is that the only source of conflict in the new Congress, with GOP Rep.-elect George Santos of New York under investigation on multiple fronts after admitting to lies about everything from his education to his ancestry to his professional background.

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Latest developments: 

  • Hardline Republicans blocked House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy from ascending to the speakership, the first time in a century that the election of a speaker went to a second ballot.

  • McCarthy secured only 203 votes, fewer than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post. Nineteen Republicans voted for other candidates. Even Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (212) got more votes than McCarthy.

  • There’s no guarantee a second ballot will result in a new leader. Far-right Republicans have dug in their heels against McCarthy, whom they view as too moderate and willing to work with Democrats.

On tap for week one: The new Congress will pick a speaker, potentially launch investigations and more

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McCarthy appears to lose round two

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared to lose the second round of voting again by 19 votes from within his Republican Party.

All of the members who voted for five candidates against McCarthy on the first ballot this time coalesced around Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Jordan nominated McCarthy for speaker on the second ballot and voted for him.

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The official vote was still being tallied as of 3:20 p.m.

— Candy Woodall

Who are the Republicans who voted against McCarthy in round one?

On the first ballot for speaker, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy: 10 voted for Biggs, 6 for Jordan, 1 for Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, 1 for former New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, and 1 for New York Rep. Byron Donalds.

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The 19 Republicans are:

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona

Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina

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Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado

Rep.-elect Josh Breechen of Oklahoma

Rep. Michael Cloud of Texas

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Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia

Rep.-elect Eli Crane of Arizona

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida

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Rep. Bob Good of Virginia

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona

Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland

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Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna of Florida

Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina

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Rep.-elect Andy Ogles of Tennessee

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania

Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana,

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Rep. Chip Roy of Texas

Rep.-elect Keith Self of Texas

— Ken Tran

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Gaetz nominates Jordan

Shortly after Rep. Jim Jordan nominated fellow Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker, Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan.

Gaetz, R-Florida, voted for Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs on the first ballot.

Jordan has said he doesn’t want to be speaker and minutes ago said McCarthy was the best person for the job.

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“Sometimes we have to do jobs we don’t really want to do,” Gaetz said. “Jim Jordan is the right person for speaker of the House because he is not beholden to the lobbyists and special interests.”

— Candy Woodall

McCarthy nominated for speaker, again

Once political rivals, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, nominated McCarthy to the speakership as the House heads to a second ballot to vote for the next speaker.

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Jordan urged House Republicans to unite behind McCarthy, saying that the differences within the conference “pale in comparison to the differences between us and the left, which now unfortunately controls the other party.”

— Ken Tran

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens as votes are cast for next Speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens as votes are cast for next Speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.

McCarthy’s failure by the numbers

It’s official: McCarthy did not make it to the speakership on the first ballot.

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McCarthy secured only 203 votes, less than the majority of 218 he needed to secure the speaker’s post, according to the House clerk; 19 other Republicans voted for other candidates.

McCarthy even trailed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who had the support of  212 Democrats.

A second ballot is coming up.

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– David Jackson

Explainer: What happens after McCarthy lost the first vote for speaker? Here’s how the process works.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) talks with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), front, after McCarthy failed to secure the necessary Republican votes to become House speaker in the first round of voting.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) talks with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), front, after McCarthy failed to secure the necessary Republican votes to become House speaker in the first round of voting.

Hakeem Jeffries got the most votes but it’s not enough: Here’s why

Jeffries ended up getting the most votes on the first ballot for speaker at 212 votes, earning the support of all of his Democratic colleagues in stark contrast to McCarthy, who had 19 Republicans vote against him – McCarthy earned 203 votes.

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But to become speaker, a nominee has to earn a majority of the total votes cast. With 434 members voting, that means any nominee will have to reach 218 votes to wield the speaker’s gavel.

The House could opt to vote in a speaker by plurality, but it is extremely unlikely as it could pose the risk of Jeffries becoming speaker with a Republican majority.

— Ken Tran

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McCarthy falls short on first ballot

Kevin McCarthy appeared fell short of the majority he needed to become speaker of the House on the first ballot.

The new Republican-led House will need to hold one more ballot – at least.

The speaker vote could now drag out for hours or days.

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– David Jackson

McCarthy’s opposition nominates Biggs for speaker

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., nominated fellow Arizonan Rep. Andy Biggs for speaker of the House in McCarthy’s first official challenge for the speakership.

“America knows that Washington is broken,” said Gosar to applause from only McCarthy’s opposition.

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Biggs is not expected to be a leading contender for the speakership, but rather, a placeholder from McCarthy’s opposition.

– Ken Tran

Aguilar nominates Jeffries for speaker to raucous applause

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., nominated House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the House to raucous applause from Democrats.

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“Today Madam Clerk, House Democrats are united,” Aguilar said, in a show of contrast to McCarthy’s challenges in his bid for speaker. “We are unified behind a speaker who is an unapologetic advocate for protecting and expanding our freedoms.”

“Let’s go Hakeem!” one Democrat cheered.

— Ken Tran

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Earlier: Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic leader, making history as first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress

Stefanik nominates McCarthy as speaker

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., nominated House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as speaker shortly after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, marking the beginning of a long vote among the 434 House members at the Capitol today.

She worked to make the case McCarthy is an experienced leader, a true conservative and that “nobody has worked harder” to put Republicans in the majority.

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Stefanik said McCarthy has done well to build consensus – even as he has struggled the last two months to galvanize unequivocal support in his bid to be speaker.

— Candy Woodall

House session starts as speaker vote nears

The afternoon began with the traditional fixtures of a new session of Congress: about three dozen children and babies watching history unfold as family members prepare to be sworn in, cheers and jubilation as one party retires from the House majority and another takes over, and curious onlookers in the gallery waiting to see what happens next.

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Rep. Greg Pence, a Catholic Republican from Indiana and brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, held his grandson during the opening prayer, making the sign of the cross on his forehead. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida sat with other “never Kevin” voters who oppose GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received thunderous applause as she gaveled out for the last time.

The otherwise peaceful and ceremonial beginning is expected to take a sharp turn when a contentious speaker vote begins, launching a historic decision in Congress that could take several ballots, hours and days to determine the next House speaker.

— Candy Woodall

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Previously: Who are the Republicans balking at Kevin McCarthy as a House speaker?

Members of the 118th Congress stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. Today members of the 118th Congress will be sworn-in and the House of Representatives will elect a new Speaker of the House.

Members of the 118th Congress stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. Today members of the 118th Congress will be sworn-in and the House of Representatives will elect a new Speaker of the House.

Republicans officially take House majority

The House has now gaveled in and Republicans have officially taken up the majority.

First orders of business: Taking roll of the new members and then voting on a new speaker – and it’s uncertain who it will be.

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– Ken Tran

McCarthy: ‘I’m not going anywhere;’ willing to hang in for multiple ballots

One thing McCarthy did not do during his brief remarks to reporters Tuesday: He did not withdraw from the speaker’s race.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said McCarthy, who did pull out from a speaker’s race in 2015 when it appeared he lacked the votes to prevail.

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This time around, McCarthy said he is prepared to go through several ballots if necessary, saying opponents should not be rewarded for making unreasonable demands.

Some opponents are working “for themselves,” and not for “the country,” he added.

– David Jackson

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House speaker vote to begin soon

Voting is slated to begin shortly after noon as House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy tries to outlast his detractors in his bid for speaker, a position he has wanted for years.

It’s a role he didn’t have enough votes to win a half hour before the new Congress was scheduled to be gaveled in by the House clerk.

McCarthy said he will not bow out, signaling there could be multiple ballot votes for the first time in 100 years and it could take many hours — or even days — before a new speaker is elected.

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— Candy Woodall

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters following a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters following a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Republican lawmaker announces vote against McCarthy

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop publicly shared in a statement that he “will not be supporting the status quo,” in another setback to McCarthy’s chances at securing the speakership.

“Kevin McCarthy is not the right candidate to be Speaker,” Bishop said in a statement on Twitter. “He has perpetuated the Washington status quo that makes this body one of the most unsuccessful and unpopular institutions in the country.”

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— Ken Tran

Beyond the speaker vote: What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos, who lied ahead of winning his election?

McCarthy: Gaetz, other critics are willing to let Hakeem Jeffries become speaker

Saying his opponents have no plan of their own, McCarthy said some Republican critics are even willing to let House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries become speaker of a House with a GOP majority.

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McCarthy singled out one of his most vocal critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

“Matt Gaetz said, ‘I don’t care if we go to plurality and we elect Hakeem Jeffries,’” McCarthy said.

– David Jackson

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Previously: Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic leader, making history as first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress

GOP power struggle before vote

The power struggle within the fractured House Republican caucus reached a pinnacle an hour before a contentious vote for speaker.

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Allies of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California raised their voices in the basement halls of the Capitol, calling out his detractors as selfish politicians who are acting in their own interest and not that of the country.

More than a dozen conservative members who oppose McCarthy left a Tuesday morning meeting saying nothing has changed, despite the House GOP leader’s multiple attempts in two months to cajole his right flank into supporting him.

— Candy Woodall

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: ‘I am furious’

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., one of the House GOP conference’s most conservative members and a McCarthy supporter, told reporters Tuesday she is “furious” about Republican opposition to McCarthy’s bid for speaker.

Greene said on Monday night that three members of the House Freedom Caucus were “demanding positions for themselves, demanding gavel positions, demanding subcommittees, demanding for people to be taken off committees and people to be put on committees.”

The Georgia Republican has positioned herself as a McCarthy ally and has been attempting to serve as a bridge between the conference’s most conservative and more moderate lawmakers.

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— Ken Tran

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Explained: What happens if McCarthy can’t get votes needed for speaker? Here’s how the election works

Gaetz: McCarthy is the “biggest alligator” in “the swamp”

As the vote approaches, it doesn’t sound like Kevin McCarthy’s opponents are backing down – and they still have the votes to block his election as Speaker.

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Rep, Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other opponents told a brief news conference that McCarthy is refusing to pursue fundamental change, and Gaetz sought to illustrate his point with an aquatic metaphor.

“If you want to drain the swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,” Gaetz said. “I am a Florida man, and I know of what I speak.”

– David Jackson

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Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks as he arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks as he arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos?

George Santos will likely be sworn in as a freshman congressman from New York on Tuesday, but there are questions about how long and whether he should remain in office.

The newly elected Republican admitted last week to lying to voters about his resume, including his personal and professional experiences, and said he still intends to take office in the new 118th Congress.

Nick LaLota, a fellow newly elected House Republican from New York, said in a statement last week, “a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required. New Yorkers deserve the truth, and House Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern without this distraction.”

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Read the rest here: What can Congress do about Rep.-elect George Santos, who lied ahead of winning his election?

— Candy Woodall

House member: ‘Nothing’s changed’

Rep. Bob Good of Virginia left a Republican caucus meeting and told reporters, “Nothing’s changed.” Good is one of a group of “Never Kevin” Republicans who have vowed not to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker.

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The opposition from that group has complicated what is normally a smooth and quick process. Good’s pronouncement came less than 90 minutes before the official start of the new Congress.

— Candy Woodall

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

McCarthy opponents not blinking as Speaker vote nears

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., tweeted a statement saying McCarthy has worked too often against conservative goals, from a balanced budget to a stringent border plan (items that McCarthy supporters say are impossible because of Democratic numbers in Congress).

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“Kevin McCarthy had an opportunity to be Speaker of the House,” Perry said. “He rejected it.”

Over the weekend, Perry promoted a letter of criticism of McCarthy signed by nine House Republicans – more than enough to deprive him of the majority the would-be speaker needs to prevail and possibly leading to a days-long struggle for GOP leadership.

David Jackson

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Meanwhile: Mitch McConnell becomes longest-serving Senate leader in history

While McCarthy struggles to become House Speaker, Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell enjoys smooth sailing into history this week – he becomes the longest serving party leader in Senate history.

McConnell surpasses Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Montana, who served as Democratic leader from 1961 to 1977.

One downside for McConnell: He is still minority leader because the Republicans failed to win a Senate majority in last year’s elections.

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Former President Donald Trump and other conservatives – including outspoken opponents of McCarthy – had wanted to depose McConnell, but he easily beat back a challenge from Florida senator Rick Scott.

Also: McConnell has an interesting way to mark his record-setting week: He will spend time Wednesday with President Joe Biden, who is traveling to Kentucky for an infrastructure event.

– David Jackson

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Who controls what in the 118th Congress?

Republicans secured control of the House following the 2022 midterms by winning 222 seats. Democrats won 212 seats. There is one vacancy due to the recent death of Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin. 

In the Senate, Democrats have a narrower lead with 48 Democrats, 49 Republicans and three independents – two of whom/align themselves with Democrats, giving the party 50 Senate votes.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who announced last month she will be leaving the Democratic party and registering as an independent, said she will not caucus with Republicans but has not indicated if she will join her independent colleagues.

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Democrats will still be able to break 50-50 ties with Vice President Kamala Harris, who can cast deciding votes in her role as Senate president.

– Rachel Looker

A new committee focused on China

Among priorities in the new Congress: China.

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Earlier in December, McCarthy announced that Republicans will be establishing a new select committee on China with Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, a former Marine and intelligence officer, at the helm as chairman.

“The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest geopolitical threat of our lifetime.” McCarthy said in a statement.

Growing competition with China has drawn bipartisan interest from Democrats and Republicans, and Gallagher has a history of working with Democrats on policy aimed at increasing competitiveness with China.

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— Ken Tran

What’s happening with committees?

Back in control of House committees, Republicans have already announced several matters they plan to investigate, including Hunter Biden and COVID-19 spending. House speaker hopeful Rep. Kevin McCarthy has also vowed to use the position to keep certain Democrats off of committees.

Senate Democrats gained more power in committees with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in Georgia last December. They have a chance to keep this edge despite Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s split from the party shortly after, as the Arizona Senator said at that time she plans to caucus with Democrats and maintain her committee positions.

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– Savannah Kuchar

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Live updates: House speaker race upended as McCarthy loses twice

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