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Tipsheet

Kevin McCarthy Fails on Fourth and Fifth Ballots in Quest to Become Speaker

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As the House of Representatives reconvened on Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday evening's adjournment following three unsuccessful attempts to elect a House Speaker, Republicans acknowledged that Democrats were getting a kick out of GOP Leader McCarthy's back-to-back-to-back failures in securing a majority threshold to become the new Speaker of the House. 

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In a heavy dose of déjà vu, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) nominated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to kick off the proceedings, raising the question of how many different ways Republican members can say essentially the same thing.

Gallagher's nomination of McCarthy was followed by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), who again put forward Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

And, yet again, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) rose to nominate a Republican alternative to McCarthy. This time, Roy nominated Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds saying "this country needs a change" and "needs leadership that does not reflect this city, this town, that is badly broken."

Wednesday's fourth ballot, like the three previous rounds on Tuesday, quickly proved fruitless for McCarthy. Before the alphabetical roll call vote had cleared the "C" names, there were more than enough votes to derail the latest attempt to elect a House Speaker.

Ultimately, the fourth ballot led to the same outcome as Tuesday's previous three ballots: 201 votes for McCarthy, 212 for Jeffries, 20 members backed Donalds, and one member, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted "present" after previously supporting McCarthy.  

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That is, almost nothing changed from Tuesday to Wednesday other than who the McCarthy alternative was.

The failed fourth ballot means that the House must now move on to a fifth ballot, although it's unclear what — if anything — would change between the fourth and fifth voting rounds. 

Shortly after the end of the fourth round, nominations were offered again — for the exact same candidates: McCarthy, Jeffries, and Donalds. 

As Katie noted, Rep. Lauren Boebert's nomination of Donalds included calling for President Trump to get Kevin McCarthy on the phone and tell him "sir, you do not have the votes and it's time to withdraw."

Unsurprisingly, as the roll was called for the fifth time in two days, it was quickly clear that McCarthy would not win and another round — the sixth — would be necessary. 

In the end, the vote total on the fifth ballot was unchanged from the fourth round: 201 for McCarthy, 212 for Jeffries, 20 for Donalds, and one member — Spartz — voting present. 

The path forward remains, as usual, murky. The ballot rounds could seemingly continue indefinitely, or GOP leadership could again seek to adjourn to work on getting more votes, but that also proved fruitless overnight in the quest to secure the speaker's gavel for McCarthy — and saw an additional member choose not to support McCarthy by voting "present."

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In an interview with CNN as the roll call votes dragged on, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) expressed his waning patience and suggested McCarthy needed to act to change the math or step aside to allow someone like Steve Scalise (R-LA) to run:

This is a developing story and may be updated. 

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