House speaker vote in chaos as McCarthy fails to win majority in first two rounds of voting

Rep. Kevin McCarthy continued to struggle Tuesday to get enough votes to become House speaker, as 19 Republicans again voted against him in the second round, ensuring a third ballot round, a sign of the persistent divisions within the slim Republican majority in the 118th Congress.

Tuesday’s vote marked the first time in 100 years that the House speaker vote went to multiple ballots. 

Given Republicans’ razor-thin majority in the House, McCarthy could only afford to lose four Republican votes. In losing 19 Republican votes, McCarthy not only fell short of the majority needed, he also came up behind Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who received all the Democratic votes. 

The House speaker, who is second in line for the presidency behind only the vice president, needs a majority of the full House of Representatives to be elected. Members cannot take their oaths of office until the House has a new speaker. 

House And Senate Convene For The 118th Congress On Capitol Hill
 U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reacts as Representatives cast their votes for Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. 

/ Getty Images

Republican Rep. Bob Good, of Virginia, who has voted against McCarthy in the first and second rounds, told CBS News the bloc of GOP lawmakers who opposed McCarthy’s bid to be speaker will “never back down.” 

During the House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning, McCarthy raised his voice as he made an impassioned plea to Republicans, telling them he has “earned” the speakership, two sources familiar with the meeting told CBS News.

McCarthy met with the Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night, telling reporters on Tuesday night that the meeting was “intense,” but he would not be held hostage by them and he was prepared for a battle on the House floor. 

“I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves,” McCarthy said ahead of the vote. “We may have a battle on the floor.  But the battle is for the conference and the country, and that’s fine with me.”

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a bipartisan standing ovation as she gaveled in the meeting, her last act as leader. She announced after Election Day that she would not be seeking a leadership role, paving the way for a new generation of Democrats to take over, led by Jeffries. 

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