Kevin McCarthy lost three votes for Speaker of the House, GOP in disarray

The thing about this Speaker of the House vote is: how do you walk into a vote with a Republican majority and no whip count? I understand that Nancy Pelosi made it look easy for years and years, the way she kept her caucus in line and got tons of sh-t done with just a slim majority. Pelosi was one of the greatest politicians of this or any era. I’m not holding Kevin McCarthy to the Pelosi Standard. But surely, if you want to be Speaker of the House, your ass better have more than just vibes for the vote. Not Kevin McCarthy.

On Tuesday, the House was supposed to swear in the new Congress and vote on the new Speaker, now that Republicans have a razor-slim majority. McCarthy knew he had the support of a significant majority of House Republicans, but for MONTHS, every politico in DC has said that McCarthy doesn’t actually have the votes to get a simple majority, not with the Insurrectionist Caucus within the House GOP. Instead of greasing the proverbial wheels and promising pork and insurrection, McCarthy walked into the Speaker vote yesterday like he expected to be crowned just by sheer will. Instead, he got his ass handed to him in three separate votes.

Republicans were deadlocked on Tuesday over who would lead their new majority after Representative Kevin McCarthy of California lost three votes for the top job, as hard-right lawmakers in open revolt dealt their party leader a humiliating setback and prompted a historic struggle on the House floor.

The mutiny, waged by ultraconservative lawmakers who for weeks have held fast to their vow to oppose Mr. McCarthy, paralyzed the House on the first day of Republican rule, delaying the swearing in of hundreds of members of Congress, putting off any legislative work and exposing deep divisions that threaten to make the party’s House majority ungovernable.

After three fruitless votes, the House adjourned without a leader late Tuesday afternoon, agreeing to reconvene at noon on Wednesday to begin the process anew. That did not end the California Republican’s bid for speaker. He has vowed not to back down until he secures the post, forcing multiple votes if necessary until he wins and raising the prospect of a grueling stretch of votes that could go on for days.

“I’m staying until we win,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters between the second and third votes. “I know the path.”

[From The NY Times]

This is the first time anything like this has happened since… 1923. Literally a century ago, it took nine roll calls to get a speaker. So, the Republicans are in disarray. Meanwhile, the Democrats – who actually did the math and knew McCarthy didn’t have the votes – are enjoying being a thorn in the GOP’s side for the time being. The House Dems are in lockstep behind Pelosi’s successor, Hakeem Jeffries, and right now, Jeffries has more votes for Speaker than McCarthy. Apparently Matt Gaetz even told McCarthy that he doesn’t GAF if Jeffries is Speaker, so long as McCarthy is kept out of the Speaker’s office.

Politico had a story about the Biden administration’s reaction to the Speaker mess – staffers are enjoying the GOP shambles on the national stage, but they also know that it’s going to be impossible to get anything done in the House for the next two years. Ugh.

All that being said, the popcorn gag was amazing.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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74 Responses to “Kevin McCarthy lost three votes for Speaker of the House, GOP in disarray”

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  1. Carol Hill says:

    I’ve got my popcorn.

    • Flowerlake says:

      If this site wants to sell some merchandise in the future, I vote for Celebitchy Popcorn.

    • aang says:

      Jan Schakowsky looks like a rich grandma who bought the cheddar/caramel Boy Scout tin popcorn from her grandson and is offering it to her bridge club.

      • Silver Birch says:

        She does look like the bridge club lady. But I’m okay with that, and I want to sit next to her, because that popcorn looks delicious!

  2. Tacky says:

    My guess is McCarthy expected those who voted against him to vote “present” in the second round and they didn’t (they didn’t in the third round either). By voting “present” they can claim they didn’t vote for McCarthy while allowing McCarthy to take the speakership. God knows what concessions McCarthy is willing to make to get those votes.

    • ncboudicca says:

      @Tacky – Agree with your last comment. This is simultaneously funny to me and also a little horrifying because McCarthy is going to have to give the wingnuts something in order to get elected, and that’s bad news for all of us.

    • Pumpkin (Was Sofia) says:

      Thing is, McCarthy has already given them a lot of concessions. I believe he’s even told them that he’ll put something like only 5 of them needing to complain about him to trigger a new vote for speaker in place.

      But they don’t want concessions. What they want is someone not McCarthy. It’s why they keep voting for Jim Jordan even though Jordan himself is voting and supporting McCarthy.

      • Frippery says:

        Forgive my ignorance on this but I’ve read a few times about the lower threshold to call for the speaker to vacate and that just sounds like such a cluster f*ck. Anytime a few of the far far far far far far far far right wing nutters gets pissy, they can halt government function while everyone has to pause and vote on the speaker? There would be a vote like, every week. Oh, it’s Tuesday, who is going to call for the speaker to resign this week?

    • sunny says:

      This thing is so wild to witness. I am fairly ignorant on the rules of this as I come from a country with a parliamentary system where if you don’t know where your votes are exactly you are taking about possible government collapse but would McCarthy have to know that those voting against him would vote “present” on the second round or did he assume that without any assurances first because if so that is totally incompetent.

      • Lightpurple says:

        McCarthy is a dolt.

        Someone worthy of the position would never bring a vote that mattered to the floor unless he or she knew the necessary number of votes were there.

        That’s why Pelosi was so brilliant. She knew where the votes were, why they were there, whether they were movable, and what it would take to move them. The entire Democratic caucus is behaving magnificently as an unapproachable, united front. GOP members were trying to talk to them individually to crack the unity, that’s why there are hilarious images of Gozar and Gaetz trying to cozy up to AOC yesterday while she laughed at them. Meanwhile, I’m sure Democratic leadership is holding out for a compromise on committee control and an acceptable moderate speaker, while simultaneously trying to pull any moderate, sane Republicans to vote for Jeffries. Jeffries only needs to turn 6 votes.

      • Tacky says:

        The Democrats aren’t holding out for anything because the only power they have is to keep showing up so the threshold for a majority won’t be lowered. There is zero chance any Republican will vote for Jeffries, just like there is zero chance any Democrats will vote for a Republican.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yeah this is about McCarthy being an idiot.

        One thing that was always said about Pelosi was that she knew how to count. She always knew exactly where her party members were on (almost) every issue. McCarthy, it seems, does not know to count, which honestly does not bode well for his tenure as speaker.

      • Ladiabla says:

        @Lightpurple I am lol’ing at the thought of Gosar and Cro-Magnon Head Gaetz trying to persuade AOC. That is hilarious.

  3. Emily_C says:

    Right-wingers the world over are dumb as a box of hair. That’s why they’re right-wingers. They’re still really dangerous, but people need to wake up to the fact that they are incapable of running anything. All they can do is destroy.

    • Coco Bean says:

      Yup. This is why Republicans are only good at destroying things, never building or creating progress. They rarely have a plan. They just want to tear down government, social safety nets, taxes and cause harm to marginalized groups. No vision besides break it all and create chaos.

    • Debbie says:

      That’s the problem with spending your time in Congress obstructing all these years out of power (oh, who am I kidding, even when they are in power there’s nothing constructive going on), so when they finally come back in, doing actual work doesn’t come easily. The sad thing is that until they get together & pick a leader (so hard!) no work is being done on behalf of taxpayers and the newcomers can’t even get sworn in. I wish we could suspend their pay, that would hurry them up. The other sad part is that this is just a sign of things to come. If McCarthy can’t even convince his fellow Republicans to vote for him, how will he manage to get bills past the House when necessary? I hear that McCarthy has already moved into the Speaker’s office though.

  4. Mireille says:

    Please make my Happy New Year wish come true with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries becoming Speaker of the House by a motion that allows a candidate with a plurality of votes to win the gavel. Kevin is a joke traitor who sold his party to the MAGA faction. He won’t secure the votes. But even if he does succeed, I hope those howling house harpies, Boebert, MTG, Jordan, and Gaetz find themselves arrested for their part in the Jan. 6 insurrection sooner than later.

    • Moira's Rose's Garden says:

      Amen! The confederate supporters weren’t allowed to hold office after the Civil War and these traitors shouldn’t either. They should get the punishment for treason.

    • FancyPants says:

      Or only 6 or 7 “sane” Republicans saying “enough is enough” and voting for Jeffries! There have to be a least a few of them who are not here for the nonsense and can understand that if McCarthy ever does win, the Gaetz/Boebert/Jordan clowns will be the ones really in charge.

      • Tacky says:

        No Republican is going to vote for Jeffries. McCarthy will ultimately prevail but he won’t be able to keep the speakership for long.

      • goofpuff says:

        Its sad that the Republicans prefer voting along party lines rather than what is actually best for the country itself. Its that tribe mentality, knowing that if they vote for what’s best for the country and their constituents, their MAGA constituents won’t understand that at all anyway and vote in an even crazier choice.

      • ML says:

        Whoever becomes Speaker is inheriting an unruly Congress to say the least—I’m not sure I want to gift Jeffries with that problem. I’d much rather he get his chance when the House flips.
        If Republicans flip to either vote present or for Jeffries, then they need to be able to explain why to their voters, right? And as the very first vote(s), it could be seen as traitorous. I honestly don’t see 6 or 7 “moderate” (are there any moderates?) Republicans crossing party lines. Unless they can ultimately make life more difficult for Democrats.
        I did enjoy McCarthy’s public humiliation. And George Santos sitting all by himself. Small pleasures and all before 2 years of frustration and agony.

      • Tacky says:

        @goofpuff Republicans believe their ideology is what’s best for the country, which is the problem.

  5. C-Shell says:

    I would never believe that I would sit through three roll call votes in the House, riveted, but that was something else! I can’t decide if I want this chaos to keep going with no Plan B shaping up or whether it will be funnier if McCarthy pulls it out of his a$$, knowing he will never get anything done and there will be one crackpot waiting impatiently to oust him at the first opportunity. It would be glorious if we didn’t have two years of insanity in store.

  6. Colby says:

    The GOP has spent the last decade recruiting and electing people to perform grievance rather than govern. Now they are held hostage by those people doing *just that*. They don’t care that the government is at a standstill, so they have no reason to negotiate in good faith.

    They sold their soul to win and now they have to deal with the monster they created.

    • North of Boston says:

      Colby, it’s not the first time the GOP has been dragged down by the muck it drummed up, it’s been happening for decades … the same thing happened when the Tea Party dopes went to Congress. Appeal to the extremists and idiots and it should be no surprise you find yourself knee deep in extremists and idiots.

    • Erin says:

      Exactly, republicans don’t have actual ideas to solve anything, all they have are grievances and fear mongering to get their base to believe that all of their problems are the fault of some vulnerable minority group such as trans people. It’s fascism, they want power for the sake of power.

    • Tacky says:

      Voters keep electing representatives to air their perceived grievances. Serious Republican candidates can’t win primaries anymore. As James Carville said, Republicans have low quality voters.

    • lucy2 says:

      Grievance over governing is a perfect way to put it.
      I’m so sick of these people.

  7. Moira's Rose's Garden says:

    This was definitely must watch TV. I love to see it.

    The finale should be the movers moving his crap out of the Speaker’s office and moving in Hakeem Jeffries’ things.

  8. Brassy Rebel says:

    The WH can stop worrying about nothing getting done if there’s no speaker. Unless, they can somehow corral enough Republican votes to elect Jeffries speaker (unlikely even if he does have more votes than McCarthy), nothing is coming out of the House for the next two years anyway. I don’t know why the WH would think any different. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy the show!

    • Debbie says:

      Regardless of ideology, there are some votes which must be passed otherwise bad things can happen economically. The debt ceiling votes are coming up for example. Like it or not, the House of Reps controls the purse strings. That’s the way the country is meant to be governed.

  9. Snuffles says:

    Can Hakeem Jeffries become Speaker of the House even if the Democrats don’t have the majority? What happens if the GOP can’t get a majority vote? Will some moderate GOP congress members switch to independent?

    • Pumpkin (Was Sofia) says:

      It’s a majority vote not a plurality vote. You need 218 unless members start voting “present” then the number of votes needed drops. If there is no speaker then basically, nothing happens in the house. No legislation, no committee assignments and no one can be sworn in.

      • Tacky says:

        If there is no speaker, then there are no rules. Technically the House can still function but everything would require a full vote, which would, of course, be total chaos. But the Republicans are in chaos anyway so not sure it makes any difference.

  10. FancyPants says:

    What I really want to know is who is in charge right NOW, specifically regarding security, if there is no Speaker? Who ordered the magnetometers to be removed if nobody is officially commanding the Capitol Police?

    • Raspin says:

      The house Clerk is in charge right now. If you watched any of it yesterday, the clerk is the woman calling the roll call for the vote.

    • Dara says:

      If I’m reading this correctly, the magnetometers were removed because of the new rules that were to be put in place once the House was officially in session. I think they jumped the gun, assuming things would proceed smoothly.

      Until there is a Speaker, the only things the House can do are vote on Speaker, or make a motion to adjourn. The representatives can’t even be sworn into office.

      Without a Speaker, the Senate Pro Tempore moves up a spot in the order of succession. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is currently second in line to be President.

  11. AnnaKist says:

    Kaiser, it’s interesting that you say the GOP is “in disarray”. I’m starting to wonder whether the right-wing grip on the world is loosening very quickly. I remember when it started, and hope I’m seeing the end of it, for a long while, anyway. Look at the Tories in Britain – what a cock-up they’ve made of things. And since we in Australia got our Labor government last May, it’s like the doors were knocked down and the windows flung open to let in the light and warmth. The Conservative coalition opposition is also in disarray. They’ve made a real dog‘s breakfast of things, and are now a laughingstock. I’m liking it.

    • JanetDR says:

      One of the right wing talking points is “Democrats in disarray!” . They use it often, even when almost everyone is in agreement. So it definitely comes to mind when we are watching this mess unfold.
      Isn’t it interesting how it is happening all over the world?!

  12. Lucy says:

    You reap what you sow, y’all!

  13. Ann says:

    The infighting is fantastic but I also really REALLY don’t want speaker Gym Jordan. McCarthy obviously sucks but do we want to hear Jordan even more than we already do? Let’s see what happens… I’m going to try to enjoy this before it gets scary.

    • Jais says:

      Agree. I really don’t want Jim Jordan to be speaker so I hope it doesn’t go in that direction. Not sure it matters either way but hearing him talk is just ugh.

      • Ann says:

        Right? The man is so shrill! I can barely listen to any of them but somehow Jordan manages to out-banshee them all.

  14. AnneL says:

    As fun as it is to watch this party of grifters and traitors flail so publicly and spectacularly, I want McCarthy to get the job without too much further ado. Jeffries is not going to be Speaker. No Republican will vote for him. They might be squabbling amongst themselves but not to THAT degree.

    The further concessions the loons want from McCarthy are truly scary. Although as someone stated above, the real problem they have is with him personally, they are still trying to extract some BSC promises. He can’t and should not give in to them. They need to be disciplined and censored, not rewarded.

    I don’t know what will happen or how much longer it will take, but I think he will be Speaker. In the mean time I will enjoy his humiliation and that of his party, while basking in the glow of my own side’s unity and sanity.

    Having said all that, if Goetz et al decide to vote for Jeffries just to say “Neener Neener” to their own party’s slightly less bonkers (majority) contingent, it would be delicious.

  15. Concern Fae says:

    I am struck by the parallel between the previous post on King Charles and this one. McCarthy placating the Freedom Caucus by giving them everything they want and Charles folding every time William gets angry have led both institutions into a dangerous, dysfunctional paralysis.

    • EBS says:

      Yes but honestly, we do not need the royals to have a functioning government and I very much hope we will get rid of them sooner rather than later. We in the UK could switch to an Irish or German system tomorrow and everything would carry on as it is now.

  16. Flowerlake says:

    Where’s my popcorn?

  17. Mireille says:

    I must admit while I want a different outcome, McCarthy may pull this out. He has to sell his testicles to the MAGA faction, but he may pull this out. In the meantime, let’s just watch this shit show play out. I will say I am enjoying the Ted Lieu Twitter pics of him standing outside his office holding a bag of popcorn and then standing outside George Santos’s office wondering where he is, because he wanted to congratulate him on being elected to office. LOL LOL LOL!!!! The SHADE…SUCH LOVELY shade. My president Biden on MSNBC being diplomatic about the SOH vote, but you know Dark Brandon is secretly laughing this up with Pelosi and Harris.

    Also, AOC talking to house harpy Gaetz…shudder….you need to take 3 showers and get five tetanus shots after speaking to a germ like that…

    • schmootc says:

      The look on Lieu’s face in the popcorn photo is what sells it. The slight smile – I’m just posing for a photo, nothing to see here. Except the shade.

  18. Twin Falls says:

    McCarthy deserves every last drop of humiliation coming his way. I just hate that it is lunatics in our Congress making it happen.

  19. Kaye says:

    Doesn’t Jim Jordan figure in George Clooney’s long-awaited documentary about abuse in the wrestling program at Ohio State? To my knowledge, there’s no allegation that Jordan was involved in the abuse itself, but it was thought that since he was an assistant wrestling coach during that time, he was aware of it and chose to ignore it.

  20. Well Wisher says:

    We are living in interesting times.

  21. AmyB says:

    All jokes aside (and there are many!) – this is f**king embarrassing to our country!!

    The fact that a hard-core conservative like Liz Cheney can be ostracized by her own party simply for telling the truth is proof that the GOP has gone off the deep end. Furthermore, MAGA extremists like Boebert and Gaetz essentially holding the Speakership hostage by demanding their own selfish political agenda is all evidence necessary showcasing the destruction of the GOP. And make no mistake, folks like MTG criticizing them is a joke. YOU KNOW she was promised committee assignments for her allegiance to McCarthy. This is like watching a badly made mafia movie. Shame on the people who voted these clowns into office!!!

  22. aquarius64 says:

    The 4th vote for Speaker is going now and McCarthy is going to lose again. As an American who votes independent this is embarassing. A GOP member put up a fellow black representative for Speaker, probably hoping to peel off any Democrats’ vote. This is the 118th Cong-mess.

    • Swack says:

      Just saw the numbers and one GOP rep who previously voted for McCarthy voted present this time. Wonder how many more will do that to lower the threshold. My question is if the threshold is lowered enough to give McCarthy the win and Jeffries has more votes than McCarthy, who becomes speaker?

    • TheVolvesSeidr says:

      And now he’s lost a fifth time. LOL.

  23. Liz Version 700k says:

    I could not LOVE this more. He was willing to ignore a little thing like an attempted overthrow of the government to get to be Speaker and watching him be humiliated for his weakness is a lifetime supply of popcorn. Inject his karma into my veins!

  24. HeyKay says:

    So do they just keeping having more rounds of voting?
    No limit on how many tries on one person?

  25. SAH says:

    He just lost the 5th round. This is glorious.

    • Liz Version 700k says:

      It’s actually turning into “must see TV!” It is so glorious I may have popcorn for dinner lol

    • Twin Falls says:

      McCarthy and Trump have lost the last two rounds. Trump has lost control of this mess he created.

    • aquarius64 says:

      And he is about to crash on the 6th round of voting. Popcorn sales are through the roof.

      • Liz Version 700k says:

        I have decided to let the humiliation of this being our government go and enjoy this with all the ooocorn and butter I can find hahahahahha. But yes Twin Falls the problem with creating a Frankenstein monster is that when you loose control of Frankenstein you can’t get a Speaker elected hahahaha

  26. Little Red says:

    Lost #6 now as well.

  27. HeyKay says:

    Seriously gave this one guy 6 chances?
    So the GOP has turned on itself?
    Do they just keep voting until this guy gets a Hard. No. at 10 tries?

    Who is running this hot mess?
    My dog is more qualified to run the Govt. vs 99% of our current elected officials.

  28. Sillyone says:

    6 votes, unbelievable. McCarthy just needs to give up. Hell this would be like me challenging Usain Bolt 6 times and just thinking I can beat him next time, when in all actuality I can barely run across my living room without being winded! Dumb ole fool.