You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kevin McCarthy Loses Sixth Round Of Votes In Chaotic Speaker Election As GOP Claims ‘Progress’ In Negotiations

Forbes 1/4/2023 Sara Dorn, Forbes Staff


The House adjourned on Wednesday following a sixth round of voting in which a coalition of conservatives blocked Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)’s bid to become speaker, but his path to the gavel may still be viable after one leader of the anti-McCarthy faction said Wednesday negotiations have made “progress.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) Getty Images © Provided by Forbes Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) Getty Images

Key Facts

McCarthy netted 201 Republican votes in the sixth round of voting on Wednesday—17 short of the 218 majority needed to win—after becoming the first speaker candidate since 1923 who failed to win on the first round of voting Tuesday.

Twenty Republicans voted for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) on Wednesday, while all 212 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) voted present.

The House adjourned following the sixth round of voting on Wednesday until 8 p.m.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Md.), one of the five members of the “Never Kevin” coalition of anti-McCarthy conservatives, told reporters that negotiations on Wednesday “have been more productive in the last two hours than they’ve been in a long time,” though he did not specify the terms, The Hill reported.

The Republican infighting has showcased the deep divisions within the party and its conservative faction: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Tx.), one of the conservatives backing McCarthy, complained Wednesday that McCarthy’s dissenters don’t seem to have a clear plan to move the election forward, telling the Washington Post they should “tell us what you actually want, or shut up.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has voted against McCarthy in all six rounds, spoke in broad terms about the McCarthy defectors’ concerns when she nominated Donalds ahead of the fifth round of voting on Wednesday, noting their requests for House rules changes and more border security; she also criticized Congress’ passage of the $1.7 trillion fiscal year 2023 budget in December before Republicans regained control of the House.

McCarthy earlier said he was entering Day 2 with the “same game plan as yesterday,” expressing no plans to bow out of the race, he told reporters on Wednesday.

Crucial Quote

“Byron has a big mind and he's big in stature as well. He's very nice. But I will tell you this: in a negotiation and [in] negotiations with Chuck Schumer, I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of Byron Donalds,” Perry said as he nominated Donalds ahead of a sixth round of voting on Wednesday. “He knows that Washington is broken.”


McCarthy risks losing at least one more vote, from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who said Wednesday he told McCarthy he will need to step aside at some point, The Hill reported.


Conservatives demanded a series of House rule changes from the incoming GOP leadership ahead of Tuesday’s election. Among them, they want more representation on committees and a special panel to take on various probes into the Biden Administration, including its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, border policies and federal law enforcement’s investigations into former President Donald Trump and the January 6 Capitol riots. Perhaps most notably, they also want to make it easier to eject the speaker by lowering the vote threshold for beginning the process, which is known as the “motion to vacate.” McCarthy, in his first formal response to the requests issued over the weekend, agreed to lower the threshold for forcing a vote from the majority of the conference (what’s currently required) to five members. He also agreed to form a House judiciary subcommittee to review “the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” including alleged abuses by the FBI and Justice Department.

Chief Critic

Trump on Wednesday urged Republicans to coalesce behind McCarthy ahead of the fourth round of voting, warning that failing to elect him could “TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT,” he wrote on Truth Social.

What To Watch For

Several scenarios could end the voting process, which would presumably continue indefinitely until a speaker is elected. McCarthy could concede to rules changes conservatives have demanded, including the makeup of committees and prioritization of legislation, in order to win their votes. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)’s name is being floated as the most likely alternative to McCarthy, though Scalise, who is supporting McCarthy, has not publicly expressed a desire to become speaker and McCarthy has given no indication he is ready to step aside. Republicans could also work with Democrats to elect a more moderate candidate, such as retired Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who told The Detroit News on Tuesday he is interested in the role if it would put an “end to the dysfunction.” House rules do not require the speaker to be a sitting member of Congress.

Key Background

Prior to the midterm elections, McCarthy–who has climbed the ranks of Republican leadership during his 16 years in Congress–was seen as a shoe-in for the next speaker. But the party’s worst-than-expected showing left them with just a slim four-seat majority in the lower chamber, 222-213, and gave conservatives more leverage to negotiate demands for the conference in exchange for their support for McCarthy.

Further Reading

McCarthy’s Speaker Bid: 1 Of These 5 ‘Never Kevin’ GOP Members Will Have To Cave For Him To Win (Forbes)

Kevin McCarthy Gives Into Key Demand Ahead Of House Speaker Vote — But Still Faces Tough Election Bid (Forbes)

Kevin McCarthy Fends Off Challenge For House Speaker Nomination—But Still Doesn't Have The Votes To Win (Forbes)

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon