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McCarthy suffers historic defeats, fails to win 3 US House Speaker votes

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Jan 04, 2023 - 07:22 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – Republican leader Kevin McCarthy repeatedly failed Tuesday to secure enough votes to become the next Speaker of the US House of Representatives, highlighting persistent infighting within his caucus.

At least a fourth round of voting is now in the offing, marking the first such time in 100 years that a nominee initially failed to win enough support to become the chamber’s leader.

A third round of voting saw McCarthy fall even further away from being able to claim the Speaker’s gavel with the number of Republican detractors growing by one to 20 as the California Republican won just 202 votes. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic nominee who is not expected to win the speakership, remained steady at 212 votes.

All of the chamber’s Democrats voted for Jeffries, in stark contrast to the tumult rocking Republicans.

McCarthy can afford to lose the support of just four fellow Republicans if all of the chamber’s 435 members cast their votes for a candidate and Democrats do not lend any support. A nominee can still win the speakership without an outright majority if some members vote present, but none did during the first three rounds.

Formally nominating McCarthy, Representative Elise Stefanik said “no one in this body has worked harder for this Republican majority than” the California Republican.

“As a Republican leader over the past several years, Kevin has taken the fight to one-party Democrat rule on behalf of the American people,” she said.

But 20 Republicans disagreed, with nearly all initially splitting their support between Representative Andy Biggs and Representative Jim Jordan before coalescing around Jordan in the second round. Jordan has said he has no ambitions to become Speaker and has urged his fellow Republicans to back McCarthy.

McCarthy has faced stiff opposition from a core group of the House Freedom Caucus who are staunchly aligned with former President Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again movement.

In a Jan. 1 letter led by Representative Scott Perry, nine of McCarthy’s Republican detractors expressed dissatisfaction with concessions he has already put forward, saying he “bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across” his 14-year tenure in Republican leadership.

“Thus far, there continues to be missing specific commitments to virtually every component of our entreaties, and thus, no means to ensure whether promises are kept or broken,” the Republicans wrote in their New Year’s Day missive.

Speaking as he nominated Jeffries for House Speaker, Representative Pete Aguilar made repeated digs at Republicans and their feud.

“Today, Madam Clerk, House Democrats are united,” Aguilar said to applause, “united by a speaker who will put people over politics.”

“We are unified behind a speaker who is an unapologetic advocate for protecting and expanding our freedoms. He does not traffic in extremism, does not grovel to or make excuses for a twice impeached so-called former president,” added the California lawmaker, referring to Trump.

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