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BREAKING: Kevin McCarthy Fails to Win Speaker Race in First Round

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to secure victory in his long-running quest to become Speaker of the House in the first round Tuesday afternoon, a setback for both McCarthy and House Republicans who have an uphill battle to prove Republican leadership can govern with a narrow majority following last November's midterm elections.


The selection of House Speaker is generally a procedural step in a new majority's work to take control of the lower chamber, but Republicans in the House have had a rough go of it between the midterm elections and Tuesday's vote. GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to lock up enough votes to cruise to easy election as Speaker of the House, and the intervening period saw Republicans going after each other as much, if not more, than Democrats.

In the weeks since the midterms that many conservatives considered to be a disappointment, McCarthy has faced a mutiny of sorts from a handful of House Republicans who refused to say they'd vote for the GOP Leader — enough to keep McCarthy short of being able to declare victory and sail through to Tuesday's election as Speaker of the House in the first round of voting.

New and returning members of the House filed into the chamber around noon on Tuesday, with the full 434 voting to establish the first quorum of the 118th Congress. That quorum means that, assuming all members in the chamber named a candidate for speaker, a simple majority of 218 votes were necessary to win.  

After GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik formally announced McCarthy's nomination on the House floor, House clerks called the role with each of the 434 present members announcing their preferred candidate before their colleagues. The final tally on the first round — and what could have been the only round if House Republicans had nominated a candidate who had full support among the GOP conference — came down 203 for McCarthy, 212 for Jeffries, and 10 for Biggs. McCarthy's total was short of the 218 necessary to win the speaker's race, meaning at least one additional round of voting looks to be necessary.


Even though Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Biggs were the three nominees for Speaker of the House, members could vote for any individual — and four Republicans did name other members in the first round vote. 

Rep. Jim Jordan received votes from Reps. Lauren Boebert, Michael Cloud, Anna Paulina Luna, Mary Miller, Andy Ogles, and Keith Self. Rep. Chip Roy voted for Rep. Byron Donalds, Rep. Andy Harris voted for former Rep. Lee Zeldin, and Rep. Josh Brecheen voted for Rep. Jim Banks.

A contentious House GOP conference meeting on Tuesday morning before members assembled to vote suggested things were not going to go well for McCarthy in the first round. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said "McCarthy is taking the path of Nancy Pelosi... Here we are, being sworn at instead of sworn in," Boebert explained.  

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) also slammed McCarthy and his supporters for threatening the GOP holdouts. "I don't take orders from anyone in this town," Perry told reporters as he explained that those loyal to the GOP Leader were threatening to kick those who didn't support McCarthy off of House committees.

Despite the last-ditch meeting to try and cajole Republicans into supporting McCarthy not going as the GOP Leader likely hoped, he defiantly refused to remove his name from consideration ahead of the 12:00 p.m. start of the new Congress after which the vote for speaker was held. 


As Fox News' Chad Pergram pointed out on Tuesday morning, it had been 100 years since the House went to a second round of voting to select a speaker.

Rep. Biggs took to Twitter after the first round was completed to claim that the result "made clear that our party deserves a new leader" and called for McCarthy to "stand down" before the next round:

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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