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Tipsheet

Ballot Mania: Anti-McCarthy Rebels Are Making the Most of This Day

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Spencer has been tediously following the rebellion on the House floor. There are at least 20 House Republicans who are dead-set against voting for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the next speaker. We’ve been going multiple rounds here, and the most straightforward vote every new session of Congress must take has devolved into bedlam. For weeks, even months, before the start of the next session—you know who the next speaker will be; it’s not a challenging political quandary unless you’re Kevin McCarthy. 

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An unwelcome throwback in this messy vote for House speaker is that McCarthy seemed to have underestimated the level of opposition. It’s nothing new. When McCarthy was House whip, he failed to secure the votes for some of the lower chamber’s easiest votes, like the farm bill. This contest entered a third ballot, and McCarthy still didn’t have the votes. Blessedly, this didn’t go to a fourth ballot, as a motion to adjourn was accepted until noon tomorrow. 

McCarthy didn’t have the votes going into this thing, which has been explicitly clear throughout the afternoon. The Democrats don’t have the votes to elect Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as speaker either. It’s a Christmas wish come true because gridlock is what I want from this snake pit we call Congress. We deserve the dysfunction that emanates from that wretched building. 

Then again, these shenanigans are what hordes of voters were worried about during the 2022 midterms, which is partially why the GOP fell short. They may not have liked Joe Biden, but they weren’t willing to gamble on chaos engulfing the Hill under a Republican Congress. 

A lot of factors went into today’s mess on the House floor. The GOP keeps re-electing its leadership, despite heinous trip-ups that warrant new blood. McCarthy had a month to lock this up, and he couldn’t. With such a slim majority, he had to have known those five-to-twenty members who were against him would probably not budge. And the fact that he felt OK to crash into the wall because he knew Democrats wouldn’t secure enough votes for Jeffries just set the stage for today’s show. The 20 anti-McCarthy rebels had no plan, but neither did McCarthy other than let this go to multiple ballots, adjourn, and regroup, which may or may not be beneficial for the California Republican.

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Side note: I’m indifferent to all this, as the GOP deserves to be further embroiled in dysfunction after their pitiful showing in the 2022 midterms.

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