Republican Kevin McCarthy lost the 12th round of voting to become the US House Speaker on Friday, though he flipped as many as 14 of the rebel hold-outs. BBC reported that McCarthy appeared to have lost the 12th round of voting, coming short by a whisker as the Speaker election process entered the third day.
Though he lost another round, McCarthy appeared to have gained some momentum, as he could convince 14 of the 20 hard-right rebels belonging to the Freedom Caucus. According to reports this number exceeded the Republicans' internal projections. At the same time, some insiders also feel that McCarthy has flipped the maximum number of Congressmen and there is no chance to flip more of them in order to close the Speaker election.
The Republicans Who Flipped
Twenty ultra-right Republicans have been holding off McCarthy's election as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among them 14 have flipped sides after intense negotiations that lasted three days. The 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.),
Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.)
Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Keith Self (R-Texas)
and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.)
Those who flipped sides under intense pressure from the GoP rank and file said they did so in good faith. "We're at a turning point. I've negotiated in good faith, with one purpose: to restore the People's House back to its rightful owners. 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 @gopleader McCarthy," said Scott Perry, who is the chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus.
Republicans Who did not Vote for McCarthy
The most vocal members of the Freedom Caucus did not vote for McCarthy. "Mr McCarthy doesn't have the votes today ... He doesn't have the votes tomorrow, and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year," said Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. The GoP holdouts are:
It is the first time in 164 years that the Congress has been unable to elect a Speaker after three days.
Though McCarthy still needs four more votes to clinch the election, the fact that he has been able to flip 11 of the rebels is a sign that the official GoP leadership will be able to convince the remaining holdouts to vote for him.
Why is McCarthy Struggling?
At one point the floor descended into chaos after the Freedom Caucus members led by Matt Gaetz nominated Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan as Speaker. However, Jordan, who is a prominent Freedom Caucus member, had nominated McCarthy for Speaker.
Some observers feel that McCarthy's eagerness to offer concessions in lieu of support made him look weak and power hungry. "The fact he was negotiating with the Republicans at all made him look very, very weak to the point of being desperate," a Republican lobbyist said, according to BBC.
"Kevin McCarthy has not made friends with certain segments of the caucus for a while, he's made a lot of enemies ... There's people who don't like him for political reasons, for personal reasons," the lobbyist added.
Before the Speaker is elected the Congress cannot discharge any other business, including the swearing in of the newly elected Representatives.
The first session of the US Congress will convene on January 3 as per the long-held custom, and the Speaker election will take place on that day. The role of Speaker is extremely important and influential in the US as it is the third-highest ranking position after the president and vice president. The US House Speaker is expected to take on the powers of the president in the eventuality of either the president or the vice-president being unable to discharge the duties of the highest office in the land.