LIVE: McCarthy creeps closer to the speaker's chair

Published January 6, 2023 at 7:28 AM EST

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is edging closer to victory after more rounds of voting for speaker of the House.

The House adjourned after a 13th round and will return at 10 p.m. EST, at which point Rep. Kevin McCarthy thinks he’ll have secured the handful of votes he currently needs.

Here's what we're watching:

ICYMI: Without a speaker, the House is without rules, so one member brought a pet to a floor vote.

Context

Stalemate over speaker means committees don’t exist

Posted January 6, 2023 at 4:51 PM EST

Until the House chamber elects a speaker and subsequently passes a package that would lay out the rules for the new Congress, House committees for the most part do not exist.

In an email sent on Jan. 5 obtained by NPR, James Butler, deputy chief administrative officer, told committee staff directors that “committees shall only carry out core Constitutional responsibilities and not incur any non-essential expenses to include official travel until the Rules of the House for the 118th Congress have been adopted.”

This has a few implications.

First, House committee staff will not be paid and student loan repayments will be paused beginning Jan. 13 should the continued voting rounds bleed beyond next week. This is because “no committee will be able to process payroll since the committee’s authority for the new Congress is not yet confirmed,” according to guidance issued to committees Dec. 29 in preparation for the transition to the 118th Congress shared with NPR.

The payroll issues do not impact personal offices.

Committee membership is also unable to form — meaning the panels are basically empty. No committees means no hearings.

Committee placements are one of the portions of the framework that has been hotly negotiated this week. McCarthy hold outs want what they call “diverse representation” on panels.

“I'm not going to talk about the specifics within the deal, but what I will tell you is it is critically important that the Rules Committee reflect the body and reflect the will of the people and that is a part of this framework,” said Rep. Scott Perry during a Friday press conference with other Freedom Caucus members.

With continued uncertainty, some offices have already shifted events from being committee-led.

Incoming House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson was scheduled to lead his first committee farm bill listening session at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Saturday. He was expected to be joined by both Republicans and Democrats.

As of Friday afternoon, the personal office has taken over organizing the event — if it still takes place.

“Given the developments on the House floor, this event is now being hosted exclusively by Mr. Thompson’s personal office rather than the House Committee on Agriculture,” said Maddison Stone, press secretary for Thompson, in an email.

The event was postponed until Jan. 13 a few hours later citing developments on the House floor.

What they can do:

Some committees already have incoming chairs because the steering committee was able to complete placement. According to latest guidance incoming committee chairs are authorized to conduct essential administrative functions such as assigning a parking coordinator, submit applications for centrally billed travel card and purchase cards, select IT or web vendors.

ICYMI

McCarthy predicts he'll win when House returns at 10 p.m. EST

Posted January 6, 2023 at 3:58 PM EST

The House has agreed to adjourn until 10 p.m. EST, at which point Rep. Kevin McCarthy thinks he’ll win when lawmakers reconvene.

Asked by NPR about the shift in momentum during Friday's votes, McCarthy said: “I think it’s very positive. We’re going to get it done tonight “

The motion to adjourn was brought forward by Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and prevailed on a 219-213 vote.

Just In

After McCarthy loses Round 13, House begins to vote to adjourn until tonight

Posted January 6, 2023 at 3:34 PM EST

Though he lost the 13th round of voting, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California continues to chip away at his opposition, having just flipped 15 Republicans who previously voted against him.

McCarthy gained support from Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, who voted for him for the first time in this latest round.

Shortly after ballot voting ended, Harris said on Twitter:

"Washington and Congress are broken. If the agreement we were able to finalize over the last few days is implemented, it will be the greatest change in how the House operates and becomes much more responsive to the American people in a least two generations."

The official results of Round 13 are:

  • Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 214 votes
  • Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., 212 votes
  • Jim, Jordan, R-Ohio, 6 votes

The six Republicans who voted for Jordan are: Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.; Elijah Crane, R-Ariz.; Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Bob Good, R-Va.; and Matthew Rosendale, R-Mont.
Steve Scalise of Louisiana then made a motion to adjourn until 10 p.m. EST, and voting is underway.

Still in hospital socks, Rep. Trone votes just hours after surgery

Posted January 6, 2023 at 3:13 PM EST

With such a slim Republican majority in the House, every vote counts when it comes to Kevin McCarthy's success or failure.

That meant Rep. David Trone, D-Md., went from operating room to House floor in a matter of hours.

Trone had a previously scheduled necessary surgery at 7 a.m. today, his communications director, Sasha Galbreath, confirmed.

He missed the first speaker vote of the day — the 12th in total — for his surgery. But he was back at the Capitol for the 13th.

Sitting in the back row, Trone stood when the clerk called his name to cast his vote for Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Democrats looked back at Trone and gave him a standing ovation. He smiled and waved his cane with one arm, his other in a shoulder sling.

Just In

McCarthy appears poised to lose the 13th vote for speaker

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:53 PM EST

All eyes were on Matthew Rosendale, R-Mont., who was the last of the lingering Republicans who voted against McCarthy last round.

Rosendale just voted for Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, meaning McCarthy will most likely not have the votes he needs to secure the speakership.

If the remaining votes stay in line with the last round, McCarthy will receive 214 votes, just shy of the majority threshold, which could be 216-218 depending on how many members are in the chamber and not voting "present."

Just In

McCarthy gains another flip

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:34 PM EST
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., center, is applauded after changing his vote to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Fla., during the 13th round of voting in the House chamber Friday. McCarthy continues to inch closer to the majority of votes needed to be elected speaker of the House.
Alex Brandon/AP
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AP
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., (center) is applauded after changing his vote to Rep. Kevin McCarthy during the 13th round of voting in the House chamber Friday. McCarthy continues to inch closer to the majority of votes needed to be elected speaker of the House.

Kevin McCarthy appears to have gained another vote this round.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., voted for McCarthy for the first time. If the remaining votes go the way they did in the last round, that'd bring McCarthy's total to 214, still two shy of the majority threshold (216).

Five of McCarthy's opponents have voted for Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, so far:

  • Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
  • Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
  • Elijah Crane, R-Ariz.
  • Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
  • Bob Good, R-Va.

The White House downplays concerns about the impacts of the House holdup

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:28 PM EST
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks at a news briefing on Friday.
Mandel Ngan
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AFP via Getty Images
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks at a news briefing on Friday.

The White House on Friday downplayed the impact to national security of the current stalemate over who will be speaker in the House of Representatives.

Spokespersons for the White House told reporters that they hope the situation is resolved soon, but that in the meantime, the White House is keeping members informed, and agencies are working with House offices where possible.

“We have vehicles to continue to communicate with both chambers of Congress, and that communication will continue throughout the foreseeable future. There’s no particular worry or concern that national security will be put at significant risk here,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Kirby noted the administration had just announced a new package of security assistance to Ukraine as evidence that national security was not being unduly affected.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters:

“Agencies can continue to help House offices with constituent services to the extent possible consistent with the law and House rules and practices,” referring questions about specific agencies like the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to those agencies.

“We hope that the House resolves this soon,” she said. “We have important work to do for the American people.”

Just In

Democrat Hakeem Jeffries gets his 13th speaker nomination

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:17 PM EST

Democrats aren't changing their tune: Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, gave Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., his 13th speaker nomination, invoking the shadow of Jan. 6 hanging over the chamber today.

"I shudder to think what a Republican majority's inability to govern would've meant on that day," Escobar said.

"We are now four days into what should be the 118th Congress," she added. "And the House of Representatives has no committees, no rules, no classified briefings, no members who have taken their oaths to serve our country."

There are only two nominees this round: McCarthy and Jeffries

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:16 PM EST
US Democratic Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Katherine Clark speak during a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday.
MANDEL NGAN
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AFP via Getty Images
US Democratic Representatives Hakeem Jeffries received his 13th nominee for House speaker Friday afternoon. He and California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy were the only nominees going into the 13th round of voting on day four.

After Jeffries' nomination, the House reading clerk went straight into the roll call. For the first time in 13 rounds, there is only one nominee from each party.

That means lawmakers have the option to vote McCarthy, Jeffries, present or other — and "other" can include candidates who didn't get a nominating speech. Two have already voted for Rep. Jim Jordan this round.

Stay tuned.

Vote No. 13 kicks off with a McCarthy nomination focused on Oversight Committee goals

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:15 PM EST
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., nominates Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the 13th round of voting as Republicans continue to struggle to elect a new House speaker.
Alex Brandon/AP
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AP
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., nominates Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the 13th round of voting as Republicans continue to struggle to elect a new House speaker.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky nominated McCarthy in a speech that blamed two years of "one-party Democrat rule" for issues like inflation, energy costs, a border crisis and rising fentanyl overdoses.

"One of the reasons is there's been no congressional oversight," Comer said.

He also blamed Democrats for the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — specifically questioning its origins, the shutdown of schools and lack of oversight into the spending of pandemic funds.

He said a House Oversight Committee under McCarthy's speakership and with "strong members" like Byron Donalds, Andy Biggs and Jim Jordan "will return to its original mission of identifying waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government and holding unelected bureaucrats accountable."

"In a Republican majority, under speaker Kevin McCarthy, the forgotten working men and women's voices will finally be heard and represented," Comer said. "And in a Republican majority under Speaker Kevin McCarthy this broken Congress will finally be fixed and we will return to regular order and we will drag those senators kicking and screaming along with us every step of the way."

Just In

Here's the final tally of vote No. 12

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:02 PM EST

The House clerk has finalized the 12th vote tally for House speaker:

  • Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 213 votes
  • Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., 211 votes
  • Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, 4 votes
  • Kevin Hern, R-Okla., 3 votes

With a total of 431 votes, McCarthy was just three votes shy of a victory.

Some Republicans who flipped for McCarthy explain why

Posted January 6, 2023 at 2:00 PM EST

Several of the 14 Republicans who backed Rep. Kevin McCarthy in his bid for speaker for the first time today — in vote No. 12 — are shedding some light on why they changed their vote.

Rep.-elect Keith Self of Texas said in a statement that his vote "was to show support for significant Rule changes to transform the House from being dysfunctional to functional."

"It has become clear to me that a couple of individuals are simply obstructionists, more interested in self-promotion than restoring the Republic," Self added.

He said he believes the House is on the verge of transferring "significant power from leadership to individual members and the American people," and that he's taking input into consideration as he continues to negotiate in good faith.

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said in a tweet that the House is at a turning point.

"I’ve negotiated in good faith, with one purpose: to restore the People’s House back to its rightful owners," he said. "The framework for an agreement is in place, so in a good-faith effort, I voted to restore the People’s House by voting for McCarthy."

Rep. Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma also described Friday's vote as an indication of good-faith negotiations.

“The potential of what’s been described to us, pending approval, is transformative to empower the rank and file," he said afterwards, according toThe Washington Post.

14 Republicans flipped for McCarthy this round

Posted January 6, 2023 at 1:36 PM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) arrives for a meeting during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
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On the fourth day and 12th ballot to elect a House speaker, Florida Congressman Byron Donalds—who was on several ballots as a nominee—joined 13 other Republicans in flipping their vote for Kevin McCarthy of California. Round 12 was the biggest shift since the search for a leader began Tuesday, with Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York having secured the most votes in every other round.

Fourteen Republican non-McCarthy voters switched their support to back the Republican leader in vote No. 12.

They are:

Dan Bishop, R-N.C. 

Josh Brecheen, R-Okla.

Michael Cloud, R-Texas

Andrew Clyde, R-Ga. 

Byron Donalds, R-Fla.

Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla. 

Mary Miller, R-Ill.

Ralph Norman, R-S.C.

Andrew Ogles, R-Tenn.

Scott Perry, R-Pa.

Chip Roy, R-Texas

Keith Self, R-Texas 

Victoria Spartz, R-Ind. 

All 14 had voted against McCarthy on every ballot (Spartz had been voting present). Donalds was the non-McCarthy Republican speaker nominee on Thursday.

Just In

In a preliminary tally, Kevin McCarthy just barely misses the mark to be speaker of the House

Posted January 6, 2023 at 1:29 PM EST
Kevin McCarthy listens in the House chamber during the second day of elections for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Anna Moneymaker
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Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens in the House chamber during the second day of elections for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. He continues to gain the votes he needs to lead the Republican party, however, some never-Kevin lawmakers still have their heels dug in.

In the biggest shift since the speaker nominations started, a total of 14 Republicans who previously voted against Kevin McCarthy backed the embattled Californian in a 12th vote.

It's the first time McCarthy has earned more votes than the Democratic nominee, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. But McCarthy appears still shy of two votes, earning 213 of the 431 votes cast today.

Things could change before the tally is officially recorded. Stay tuned.


Editor's Note: A previous version of this post put the total number of votes at 432 and McCarthy's votes at 214. That number was a miscount; the House Clerk later certified the results as 431 total votes, and 213 for McCarthy.

Rep. Spartz switches from 'present' to McCarthy

Posted January 6, 2023 at 1:16 PM EST
Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana waits for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber in March 2022, Washington, DC. In the House election for a new speaker, Spartz had refused to vote for California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, until the 12th round of voting.
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Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana waits for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber in March 2022, Washington, DC. In the House election for a new speaker, Spartz had refused to vote for California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, until the 12th round of voting.

Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana also voted for McCarthy for the first time today.

Spartz had voted for McCarthy in the first three rounds before switching her vote to "present."

Rep. Keith Self of Texas also flipped for McCarthy.

McCarthy picks up more Republican votes

Posted January 6, 2023 at 1:13 PM EST
Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna and other Republican lawmakers flipped their votes to support of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. Luna said she cast her vote for McCarthy "pending negotiations in good faith that they'll outlive this entire conference."
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Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna and other Republican lawmakers flipped their votes to support of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. Luna said she cast her vote for McCarthy "pending negotiations in good faith that they'll outlive this entire conference."

Farther along in alphabetical order, several more lawmakers switched their votes for McCarthy, even after he appeared to fall short of the threshold needed.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida flipped, casting her vote for McCarthy "pending negotiations in good faith that they'll outlive this entire conference."

Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois also voted for McCarthy, she said, "based on negotiations." Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina switched his vote too, before giving a thumbs up to the cheering crowd.

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Chip Roy of Texas also flipped.

Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana teased a potential flip, standing up and shouting "Kevin..." After looking around during a prolonged pause, he said "Hern" and walked out smiling, to loud murmurs from the room.

Just In

Despite some Republican flips, McCarthy appears poised to suffer defeat on a 12th attempt

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:58 PM EST

We're not even halfway through the alphabet, and Republican nominees Hern and Jordan have 2 and 4 votes respectively, which is not good news for McCarthy.

It's still unclear exactly what the majority threshold will be (it depends on how many representatives actually vote, instead of saying "present" or being absent), but if it's 217, as expected, and all Democrats vote for Jeffries, then McCarthy won't have the votes he needs. (Remember, there are only 222 Republicans total in the House.)

Several Republicans are flipping for McCarthy

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:49 PM EST

Several Republicans switched their votes on Friday afternoon in favor of Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma and Michael Cloud of Texas drew applause from many in the room after casting their votes. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who had been nominated by the defecting Republicans in previous ballots, also voted for McCarthy.

McCarthy needs 218 votes to win the speakership. This marks the first time some of his defectors have voted in his favor.

Rep. Lauren Boebert nominates Rep. Kevin Hern for speaker (again)

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:43 PM EST

A staunch McCarthy opponent, Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., began voting for Kevin Hern, R-Okla., during the ninth round of voting yesterday.

In a relatively short nomination speech, she called him a "fighter" and the person who could "unite this Republican caucus."

And with that, a 12th round of voting is now underway. Stay tuned.

Rep. Matt Gaetz slams McCarthy and nominates Jim Jordan in heated remarks

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:40 PM EST
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks in the House during Friday's vote, nominating Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker.
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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks in the House during Friday's vote, nominating Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., began his nomination by picking apart Kevin McCarthy's nomination, addressing Rep. Mike Garcia's speech.

"First he said that Mr. McCarthy has earned the position," Gaetz said. "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."

"And so one must wonder ... is this an exercise in vanity? For someone who has done the math, taken the counts and is putting this institution through something that absolutely is avoidable," he added.

The room reacted with a mix of applause and boos. After Gaetz spoke about McCarthy's fundraising efforts for Republican candidates, several people stood up from their seats and shouted back.

The House clerk did not recognize them, instead reminding members "not to engage in personalities against other members of the House."

Gaetz called McCarthy the "LeBron James of special-interest fundraising," but said other qualities should be considered more important and that Rep. Jim Jordan has those.

He nominated Jordan for speaker, praising his "pure, selfless intent" and seeking to paint McCarthy in contrast as motivated by his own personal ambition.

People could be seen walking out of the chamber as Gaetz continued speaking.

In giving Democrat Hakeem Jeffries a 12th speaker nomination, Clyburn says the 'goodness' of America is at stake

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:36 PM EST

For the 12th time, Democrats gave a standing ovation for their speaker nominee, Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

In his nomination speech, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., framed the moment as another one that's testing the ethical core of American democracy.

"Exactly two years ago today, our resolve was tested when a violent mob of insurrectionists attacked our Capitol, threatened the integrity of democracy and undermined our Constitution," he said. "The greatness of this country and the resiliency of our democracy were put at risk. But we survived."

He ended with a quote believed to have first been uttered by Alexis de Tocqueville.

"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good. American ceases to be great. The goodness of America lies within the goodness of her people," Clyburn said, adding that goodness is at stake.

McCarthy's latest nomination isn't really about him, lawmaker says

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:28 PM EST

Rep. Kevin McCarthy gets his 12th nomination for speaker, this time by Rep. Mike Garcia of California.

"This is actually not about Kevin McCarthy," Garcia said several times, though he praised McCarthy's leadership record, faith and patriotism.

"The matters before us are of stupendous magnitude," he said. "A federal republic such as ours, it's a dynamically unstable one, it's a wobbly top that's just a few mere revolutions away from falling down at any given moment, except for the exertions of men and women who are willing to serve her with pure and selfless intent."

Garcia spoke about some of the issues that he blames for the country's "wobbly" state, including issues at the southern border, the national debt, rising crime, veterans' health and national security threats.

"These are the matters of stupendous magnitude," he said. "This isn't about a man in a suit in the halls of Congress. It's about 330 million Americans. It's about the preservation of the Constitution and the liberties guaranteed therein. It's about the 246 years of pride and providence that we have enjoyed as a nation, and above all things, it's about ensuring that this beautiful journey exists for generations to come."

The House is back in session for a fourth day of voting

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:11 PM EST

The House is picking up where it left off.

Today's proceedings began as they have for the last three: with a prayer from the chaplain, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and some time for lawmakers to talk amongst themselves while the clerk takes an official headcount.

House Chaplain Margaret Kibben's prayer acknowledged the mixed feelings of the day, given the Jan. 6 anniversary and the frustration of those impacted by the prolonged speaker vote. She offered what appeared to be her most direct criticism of the process yet:

"The abiding emotional and spiritual unease, stemming from the memory of inconceivable unrest in these chambers two years ago, the exhausting frustration over the prolonged impasse in the deliberations that obscures the way ahead, the fear that resides in the hearts of families and staffers, communities and constituents who are affected by the lack of resources and security while this legislative body remains unseated."

Soon, speaker candidates will be nominated by members of their party and the 12th vote will begin.

ICYMI

A heads-up for those of you keeping score at home

Posted January 6, 2023 at 12:00 PM EST

It's still unclear if the House will decide to resume voting when they gavel in at noon ET, or if they'll immediately move to adjourn to allow for more negotiations.

A GOP conference call that kicked off at 10:15 a.m. ET is still ongoing — and not offering a lot of firm plans on the Republicans' path forward — according to several reporters who are live-tweeting the conversation.

If the House does vote today, the majority threshold could be one vote lower: 217 instead of 218. That's because Republican Ken Buck, a McCarthy ally, went home to Colorado to attend to a "planned non-emergency procedure,"his office said yesterday.

It's unclear whether Buck will be back in Washington in time for today's vote.

In the dog House: A lawmaker brought her pup to vote since there are no rules

Posted January 6, 2023 at 11:57 AM EST
Rep. Nancy Mace carries her dog Libby as she casts a vote in the House on Thursday.
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Rep. Nancy Mace carries her dog Libby as she casts a vote in the House on Thursday.

No, C-SPAN viewers and live blog readers didn't imagine it: A lawmaker did in fact bring her pup to the House chamber yesterday as she cast yet another vote for speaker.

Call it the dog days of the race.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., could be seen carrying a small dog as she cast her vote to adjourn on Thursday evening.

When asked by a reporter whether dogs are allowed on the House floor, Mace replied that "there are no rules right now," perThe Independent.

Mace also tweeted a video of the dog, named Libby, zooming out of what appears be an office. The caption? "Day 3 vibes."

"The feeling is mutual Libby," she wrote, adding the hashtag #RunningToTheFloor.

Without a speaker, the House can't conduct any of its usual business, which would normally include setting rules to govern itself.

Lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the Capitol (where the pets did their share of sitting in on floor debates, fighting with each other and getting loose) since the 1800s, as NPR reported several years ago.

The Capitol has also welcomed a number of comfort dogs, with the U.S. Capitol Police adding an emotional support dog named Lila to its permanent ranks in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack.

And Libby wasn't the only canine representation in the room on Thursday: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz could be seen wearing a top (or dress) covered in a pattern of various dog breeds.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wore a dog-patterned dress to the third day of voting on Thursday.
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AFP via Getty Images
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., wore a dog-patterned dress to the third day of voting on Thursday.

Context

Here's what Democrats are saying about some possible showdown-ending scenarios

Posted January 6, 2023 at 11:49 AM EST
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries arrives with outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Capitol in a Jan. 6 remembrance ceremony.
Olivier Douliery
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AFP
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries arrives with outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Capitol in a Jan. 6 remembrance ceremony.

In the face of GOP division, Democrats have stayed remarkably unified, consistently voting in line for their nominee, Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. Yesterday, Jeffries, along with Democratic Whip Katherine Clark and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar released a statement saying that Democrats will continue to leave the Republicans to elect their own leader.

But they, too, are hamstrung by the lack of a speaker, unable to conduct any official business or even swear in new members.

Are they considering any other options behind the scenes? Let's take a look at what they're saying.

Would Democrats vote for McCarthy?

Former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters yesterdaythere's no chance of that.

“I think what you are seeing is an incredibly shrinking speakership in terms of all the deals that are being made, and that is most unfortunate,” Pelosi said. “They have to elect a leader from their ranks. We can help on policy. That's our responsibility to find common ground on policy and even on some of that process ... but they have to select their leader first.”

What about keeping members out of the chamber to lower the majority threshold?

During press conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaders of the House Democratic Caucus told reporters this wasn't a scenario they were considering. It's reportedly what they're telling the Republicans, too.

After she was spotted talking to McCarthy defectors on the floor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters she'd given the Republicans a "fact-check."

"McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez toldThe Intercept. “And I factchecked and said 'absolutely not.' ”

Would Democrats vote for a centrist Republican, maybe?

A plan like that would need to start with Republicans choosing a moderate — and that sounds like an impossibility at the moment. Even McCarthy's allies, ones that might appease McCarthy's foes as speaker, aren't throwing their hands up to run.

"That's really off the table," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a McCarthy supporter, told NBC. "I don’t think that works very well in any time. I think it's particularly unsuited to these times. The polarization is too great."

A D.C. bar has already crowned several 'speakers of the pub'

Posted January 6, 2023 at 11:31 AM EST

At least one Capitol Hill institution has a new speaker already — in fact, it's chosen several in half the time the House has taken to pick its leader.

Union Pub, a sports bar located blocks from the Capitol, is having a little fun with the House holdup.

It tweeted on Thursday that it is offering a new special: For $218 — the number of votes Kevin McCarthy needs to win the speakership — a lucky customer can be named "Speaker of the Pub."

The cost covers two buckets of Bud/Bud Light, eight shots of whiskey, one bottle of wine, one bottle of "fancy champagne," one plater of totchos — aka tater tot nachos — and a gavel made from a red oak formerly on the grounds of the Capitol (which stays at the bar, but customers can take home a replica gavel starting today).

By the end of Thursday, the pub had sold three specials and crowned three speakers of the pub. Here they are:

It may not be too late for other D.C. politics (and/or Bud Light) buffs to claim the title for themselves: The pub says the special will be available until the House elects a speaker.

January 6 Anniversary

Amid the speaker battle, some House members remember the Jan. 6 attack

Posted January 6, 2023 at 11:06 AM EST
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries is joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the Capitol on Friday morning to honor the officers who lost their lives during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Olivier Douliery
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AFP via Getty Images
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries is joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the Capitol on Friday morning to honor the officers who lost their lives during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

"Today, members of the House of Representatives, in a bipartisan way, pause in solemn recognition of the violent attack on the Capitol that occurred two years ago on Jan. 6, 2021," House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on steps outside the Capitol, as former Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood to his right, wiping away tears.

But of the dozens of representatives standing outside the Capitol at 10 a.m. to honor the officers lost due to the attack, the vast majority were Democrats. House Republicans held a conference-wide call at 10:15.

As Jeffries spoke about the preservation of democracy and the ultimately peaceful transition of power on Jan. 6, 2021, a clear shadow rests over the anniversary. Just behind those steps, lawmakers are at a standstill, stuck in a historic impasse over the beginning of the new Congress.

"For many in the Congress and across our country, the physical, psychological, and emotional scars are still raw. Yet from the unspeakable horror sprang extraordinary heroism," Pelosi said.

Six officers were honored in the ceremony.Officer Brian Sicknick of the Capitol Police was attacked by the mob and died Jan. 7. Capitol Police OfficerHoward Charles Lebingood andMetropolitan police officers Gunther Hashida, Kyle DeFreytag and Jeffrey Smith died by suicide in the days and months after the attack. Capitol Police OfficerWilliam "Billy" Evans was killed in the line of duty in April 2021 when a driver rammed his vehicle into the Capitol complex.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that five officers died on the day of the attack. It has been updated to reflect that officers died in the days and months following Jan. 6, 2021.

Context

What do McCarthy's opponents want?

Posted January 6, 2023 at 10:41 AM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) enters the Capitol on January 6, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives will continue to try and elect the next Speaker after McCarthy failed to earn more than 218 votes on 11 ballots over three days, the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
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Republican leader Kevin McCarthy enters the Capitol on Friday.

At the start,the demands of McCarthy's foesboiled down to three things:

  • Wanting less government spending.
  • More power for them and less for the speaker.
  • Mistrust and personality differences.

Even before the vote started, McCarthy made one big concession, backing the hard-right faction's proposal for a five-vote threshold to remove the speaker.

And by the time the 11th vote closed on Thursday, he'd made a few others, including lowering the threshold to allow just one member to call for a vote to oust him if he does become speaker.

He's also agreed to install new term limits for members and get more of these defectors on key committees, moves that would significantly weaken him if he does get the job.

Will those concessions work? Last night, the possibility of a deal still seemed shaky, at best. Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, a McCarthy supporter, said last night they were halfway to locking in votes from the 20 holdouts (McCarthy can only afford to lose four of his members).

➡️ Read the full list of McCarthy's opponents here.

Just In

GOP schedules a conference call during a key negotiation period

Posted January 6, 2023 at 10:13 AM EST

The House Republicans are expected to meet in a conference call at 10:15 a.m., but the details of what will be discussed are still fuzzy.

Last night, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina told reporters there is a framework on paper, but that “this is Round 1” and there was still “a ways to go.” He said the framework included more House rules changes that conservatives had been asking for, including a 72-hour period to read bills before voting.

Just In

Democrats were told not to leave Washington, according to a House staffer

Posted January 6, 2023 at 10:06 AM EST

Aaron Fritschner, chief of staff for Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., tweeted this morning that the House Democratic whip told them not to leave Washington until a speaker is elected.

It's still unclear whether the House has plans to convene tomorrow should another round of voting fail today.

Context

Recap: Here are a few ways this showdown could end

Posted January 6, 2023 at 9:44 AM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 5: A view of the U.S. Capitol Thursday night January 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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A view of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday night.

Though the speaker showdown has been described as political theater, it has some serious consequences: The House can't get anything done until it has a speaker, including organizing committees, swearing in new members and passing even emergency legislation should a disaster occur.

As a quick refresher, any nominee needs a simple majority to win the speakership. If all members (434) cast votes, that puts the majority number at 218. Republicans have a slight majority, with 222 members, but 21 have consistently voted for other candidates or not at all.

Whether it happens suddenly or slowly, there are a few different scenarios for how the stalemate could end:

  1. McCarthy could win over the defectors, which feels increasingly challenging this morning, given he made a few more concessions yesterday.
  2. McCarthy could step aside, letting the party coalesce around another candidate.
  3. The Democrats could decide to lend their GOP colleagues a hand, maybe by keeping members out of the chamber to lower the majority threshold.
  4. Some combination of members could vote "present," which also would lower the majority threshold.

What we know right now is that the House will have two options when it reconvenes today at noon ET. It could pass a motion to adjourn immediately, which would allow for more negotiating time. Or, it could resume nominations, kicking off a 12th round of voting.

Meet Cheryl Johnson, the clerk running the House this week

Posted January 6, 2023 at 9:23 AM EST
House Clerk Cheryl Johnson receives a standing ovation in the House Chamber on Thursday.
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House Clerk Cheryl Johnson receives a standing ovation in the House chamber on Thursday, the third day of speaker elections.

The speaker is usually the person running things in the House of Representatives.

But in the absence of a speaker, that job has fallen to House Clerk Cheryl Johnson.

Johnson has calmly guided proceedings, including doing the time-consuming and repetitive work of calling on lawmakers to make nomination speeches and cast their votes.

She also reminded them on Thursday to maintain decorum and order, including by refraining "from engaging in personalities toward other members-elect," in brief remarks that were met with a massive round of applause.

She has drawn praise from both sides of the aisle this week for making sure the voting process remains respectful and orderly — despite the fact that the House hasn't even been able to pass rules for its newest session.

When Arkansas Rep. French Hill rose on Thursday to nominate Rep. Kevin McCarthy, he began his speech by thanking Johnson.

"First let me express my deep appreciation, and appreciation of everybody in this room, for the work you're doing, Madame Clerk," he said, prompting a standing ovation from many lawmakers and at least one cry of "Johnson for speaker!"

What is the role of the House clerk?

The Office of the House Clerk says it is responsible for performing administrative functions for the House.

Those include creating and retaining the House Journal, calling new members to order, tracking questions of order and managing the offices of retired or deceased representatives.

Lawmakers vote to elect a House clerk — and other House officers — when a new Congress gathers every two years. That usually happens right after the speaker election — meaning even once the House chooses its speaker, it may go on to nominate and potentially elect a different clerk.

Who is Cheryl Johnson?

Johnson has held the role since 2019, serving in both the 116th and 117th Congress.

The New Orleans native studied journalism and communications at the University of Iowa, holds a law degree from Howard University and completed the senior management program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

She worked in the House for nearly 20 years — serving as counsel for its committee on education and the workforce as well as its subcommittee on libraries and memorials — before spending a decade at the Smithsonian Institution, most recently as the director of the Smithsonian's Office of Government Relations.

Johnson is the fourth woman and second Black person to hold the role of House clerk.

And she's seen plenty of historic moments in her role over the last four years, including two presidential impeachments (she hand-delivered articles of impeachment against former President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2021) and the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Cheryl Johnson, clerk of the House of Representatives, carries an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Jan. 25, 2021.
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Cheryl Johnson (left), clerk of the House of Representatives, carries an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Jan. 25, 2021.

What are people saying about Johnson?

Lawmakers have praised Johnson for her steady leadership this week.

"Our clerk has stepped up and reflects our House's best tradition of preparation and dedication to this institution, and we're grateful," Hill said at the beginning of his nomination speech on Thursday.

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California also sang Johnson's praises in a tweet on Wednesday.

"Cheryl Johnson, the clerk of the House, for Speaker?" Khanna wrote. "She’s been extraordinary without any rules passed and in having some sense of fairness and order."

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic leader and nominee for speaker, gave Johnson credit at a press conference on Thursday.

He called her "a historic figure in her own right" and said she "is doing a very good job under difficult circumstances."

Who is Byron Donalds? And what about Kevin Hern?

Posted January 6, 2023 at 9:08 AM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) arrives for a meeting during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
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U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., arrives for a meeting Thursday during the third day of elections for speaker of the House.

Based on Wednesday's and Thursday's speaker ballots, it appears that Byron Donalds, R-Fla., is becoming the secure favorite of the McCarthy defectors.

A first-term representative from Florida, Donalds has remained relatively out of the spotlight for most of his political tenure. He's perhaps best known as a member of the "Freedom Force," a group of 2020 freshman House Republicans who pledged to fight socialism.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., tweeted on Wednesday that he was being treated like a prop by the defectors, who commented on Donalds' race. Democrats made race a theme of these nominations from the outset by nominating Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., for the speaker's chair. Jeffries was the first Black man to receive the nomination.

Donalds received 19 and 20 votes from the fourth to the seventh rounds. But then a new name appeared on the ballot: Kevin Hern, R-Okla.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) speaks at a press conference on vaccine mandates for businesses with House Republicans on Capitol Hill on November 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) is introducing legislation to formally disapprove of and nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employers. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., pictured here at a November press conference, has received votes for speaker of the House.

In switching her vote from Donalds, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., described Hern as a "businessman from humble beginnings" and a "true consensus candidate."

By the 11th round of voting yesterday, the results looked like this:

  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., 212.
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 200.
  • Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., 12.
  • Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., 7.
  • Former President Donald Trump, 1.
  • One Republican member voted "present."

The defectors' decision not to rally around a single alternate to McCarthy gives the appearance that a viable alternate doesn't really exist, or at least not yet.
Candidates who might appease both Republican factions — like previous Minority Whip Steve Scalise — haven't said whether they'll go against McCarthy.

What voters in GOP defectors' districts make of the speaker stalemate

Posted January 6, 2023 at 8:24 AM EST
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) walks to the House chamber on Thursday.
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Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., walks to the House chamber on Thursday. NPR heard from voters in her district who are frustrated by how the speaker election is going.

How are Republican voters feeling about the holdouts in the House?

NPR member station reporters spoke with constituents of some of the 20 lawmakers who have repeatedly voted against Rep. McCarthy in his speaker bid — and, as NPR Congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales tellsMorning Edition, many are not pleased.

Colorado Public Radio reporter Stina Sieg spoke with Republican voters represented by Rep. Lauren Boebert:

"Well I think it's a bunch of BS myself, because they're trying to get a speaker into the House and everything and nobody's wanting to agree on what, and it's just a bunch of nonsense that's going on," said Robert Stepp.

"I think it's pretty silly," said Linda Dittman.

"We should be making every effort to be bipartisan and still work for the people," said Peter Kempenich.

"It's just confusion, it's pandemonium; no business is getting done. Other people are suffering because of it," said Mary Ann Wright.

And Arizona Public Media reporter Zac Ziegler in Flagstaff spoke with constituents of Rep.-elect Eli Crane:

"I hope they find someone to speak and I hope it's not Kevin McCarthy," said Natalia Szymczak.

"It seems almost like it's on a road to implode if they don't change things up soon," said Emiliano de la Rosa.

"They don't look very strong right now, to be honest," said Elsie Gomez. She added that she's a McCarthy supporter herself, and just wants Republicans to pick him as speaker and move on.

ICYMI

Here's more on what Republicans are saying about a deal

Posted January 6, 2023 at 8:08 AM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) talks to reporters as he leaves the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
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U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters as he leaves the House chamber Thursday during the third day of elections for speaker of the House.

As the race for the speakership approached a 12th ballot, the media heard rumblings last night of a possible agreement framework between McCarthy and some of his holdouts.

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina told reporters there is a framework on paper, but that “this is Round 1” and there was still “a ways to go.” He said the framework included House rules changes that conservatives had been asking for, including a 72-hour period to read bills before voting.

Other holdouts were more cagey. Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland said he didn’t know about any deal, while Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee wouldn’t answer when asked if there was an agreement on paper.

McCarthy ally Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina said he believed it would be “a good evening” and said several holdouts were negotiating in good faith. McHenry acknowledged that any deal would need assurances and be socialized among the broader GOP conference.

He said, "The main things we are talking about are a conservative agenda around spending and the nature of our Republican majority." He said it's a pledge of action on how they operate to achieve their agenda.

Another ally, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, told reporters he thinks they are close to a deal — "you can just sense it." Asked if it could come together tonight, Jordan said, "I hope so. I do, I really do."

➡️Read the full list of the defectors here.

Here's where things stand as of Friday morning

Posted January 6, 2023 at 7:44 AM EST
The sun sets over the U.S. Capitol Building.
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The sun sets over the Capitol building on Thursday. The House is set to reconvene at noon on Friday.

We are now watching the most drawn-out speaker race since before the Civil War.

After 11 failed attempts in three days, where does McCarthy's fight for speaker stand now?

McCarthy made a new offer to his opponents and while there's no deal yet, Republican negotiations will continue today, NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales says.

More meetings will take place this morning before the House is set to reconvene at noon ET.

McCarthy has said he made another big concession, again lowering the threshold to allow just one member to call for a vote to oust him if he does become speaker.

"That's down from five in recent days and dramatically lower than under recent speakers," Grisales tellsMorning Edition.

He's also made new concessions to install new term limits for members and get more of these defectors on key committees — moves that Grisales says would "significantly weaken him" if he does get the job.

And it remains to be seen whether they will even work. What are Republicans saying?

South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, one of the holdouts, left a closed-door meeting calling it both "Round 1" and "a good thing."

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, a McCarthy supporter, says they are halfway to locking in votes from the 20 holdouts (McCarthy can only afford to lose four of his members).

And McCarthy hasn't put a timeline on when a deal might be reached.

"I just think we've got some progress going on," he told reporters on Thursday. "We've got members talking, I think we've got a little movement, so we'll see."

Context

It's Jan. 6, the second anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol

Posted January 6, 2023 at 7:37 AM EST
A group of pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol Building, breaking windows and clashing with police officers, on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Jon Cherry
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A group of pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol Building, breaking windows and clashing with police officers, on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

One thing to watch for today is how the representatives frame the anniversary of Jan. 6.

Two years ago today, rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol. Their aim was to stop Congress from certifying the electoral college count that named President Biden as Trump's successor.

Some members of Congress were eager to assist them in that aim and later that day voted against the certification. And there's a notable overlap between those members and the ones causing a stir again this week.

Of the group of 20 Republicans who keep voting against McCarthy, only one who was in Congress at the time of that fateful joint session actually voted to certify the election.

These are the McCarthy defectors who voted against what experts said, again and again, was a fair election:

  • Andy Biggs of Arizona
  • Lauren Boebert of Colorado
  • Bob Good of Virginia
  • Andy Harris of Maryland
  • Matthew Rosendale of Montana
  • Dan Bishop of North Carolina
  • Michael Cloud of Texas
  • Andrew Clyde of Georgia
  • Byron Donalds of Florida
  • Paul Gosar of Arizona
  • Mary Miller of Illinois
  • Ralph Norman of South Carolina
  • Scott Perry of Pennsylvania

Chip Roy of Texas is the lone McCarthy defector who was a member at the time and still voted to certify.
The House of Representatives had originally planned not to meet today, the Associated Press reports. But with the speaker election now stretching past the 11th vote, the term "chaos in the Capitol," a popular Jan. 6 descriptor, has been recycled with new meaning, and the nation is again watching all that chaos unfold.

➡️Read more about the group of Republicans who keep voting against McCarthy.

➡️ Read more about the Republicans who voted against certification.