Update — Ahead of the second ballot for House Speaker, McCarthy convinced Jim Jordan to nominate him in an effort to win over the hardline holdovers. Jordan gave an impassioned speech for McCarthy, but instead of listening to Jordan’s plea to vote for McCarthy, the hardliners are voting for Jordan instead. The opposition has coalesced around Jim Jordan. McCarthy goes down in flames again.
Jim Jordan trying to save a guy getting screwed? Well, that's out of character for him.— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) January 3, 2023
— Kevin McCarthy lost on the first ballot, the first time this has happened in 100 years. The defeat wasn’t even close — he was humiliated, losing 19 GOP votes. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democrat, actually had more votes than McCarthy, 212-203.
It’s unclear where it goes now, except for further votes. McCarthy is whipping for more, but getting 15 holdouts to switch seems unlikely.
I’m reluctant to write this post because it will probably be dated five minutes after it’s published and I’m not that keen to update it all day, but the vote for Speaker of the House is chaos right now. It’s been chaos for weeks, but I assumed that the hardliners in the Freedom Caucus would eventually come around and agree to vote for Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
They have not, and the vote is today. Kevin McCarthy needs 218 votes. There are 222 Republican House members. Five are currently holding out, including Matt Gaetz, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs. In fact, a sixth anti-McCarthy vote just joined: Dan Bishop. They steadfastly refuse to vote for McCarthy, and if McCarthy does not win in the first vote, it will be the first time that’s happened since the 1920s.
The interesting thing is that McCarthy has compromised himself to the nth degree. He’s basically best friends with Marjorie Taylor Greene now. He’s sold his soul to gain enough votes, and he still doesn’t have the votes, and the act of selling his soul revealed him to be a “typical Washington politician,” which may have hurt his chances even more with the hardliners.
It’s madness on the House Floor. Marjorie Taylor Greene is calling the anti-McCarthy contingent “destructionist,” and Dan Crenshaw is calling them “f—king stupid.” McCarthy is even suggesting that the gambit by the hardliners might result in Democrat Hakeem Jeffries becoming the Speaker. It’s possible.
How might that work? If McCarthy doesn’t win, and if the GOP has to nominate someone to appease the hardliners, like Andy Biggs, five moderate Republicans in blue districts who believe that the Freedom Caucus would be terrible for the country could theoretically vote for Jeffries. A guy like Adam Kinzinger would probably vote for Jeffries over Biggs, but I’m not sure there are 5 Kinzingers left in a Republican party dominated by MAGA in 2023.
More likely, this whole charade could be dragged out by the hardliners for weeks, during which time I assume there will be no Speaker of the House. And because the Speaker doesn’t necessarily have to be a member of Congress, there are already people on social media calling for Trump to be voted Speaker of the House.
The chaos and division within the party does not bode well for the GOP for the next two years.