Another day, another tormented belly flop for Kevin McCarthy, as the California congressman failed again to secure the requisite votes for the House speakership.
Deprived of a red wave in the 2022 general election, McCarthy this afternoon could not cohere his Republican caucus to obtain the 218 votes he needed on a seventh ballot.
Or on an eighth ballot.
Or on a ninth ballot.
Or tenth ballot.
Or the eleventh.
A new face, U.S. Rep.-elect John James of Michigan put McCarthy’s name in nomination to begin the day, but it didn’t make a difference.
Neither did an eighth ballot nomination by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast of Michigan.
Or the subsequent nominating speeches of others.
U.S. Rep.-elect Tom Kean, Jr. looked on, with fellow New Jersey Republicans U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew.
The presence of Kean at the very least continued to hint heavily at a strategy option for Democrats and their choice for the job of speaker, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who had a model in the congressman-elect’s father.
They just needed a handful of Republican versions of the late Assemblyman David Friedland, the Hudson County Democrat who voted for Kean for speaker, while the elder statesman occupied the minority.
But in this case, abiding fractures did not appear to extend behind the Republicans’ own ranks, as a group on the right continued to block McCarthy’s candidacy by backing U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.
A seventh time.
An eighth time.
A ninth time.
A tenth time.
An eleventh time.
McCarthy could not afford to lose four votes, and on the seventh ballot and then the eighth ballot, and then the ninth (they began to blur together), then the tenth, Donalds mustered nine votes early, which appeared to put McCarthy again on the path of failure for a seventh consecutive time.
Six of the 20 Donalds backers among the anti-McCarthy Republicans have said they would “never” vote for McCarthy.
Other alternative candidates emerged, among them former President Donald J. Trump, a name offered by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“Let’s start by making the House of Representatives great again,” he said.
Democrats rolled their eyes on the other side of the aisle.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) (above) and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1) (both pictured, top) exchanged dumbfounded looks at one point at close quarters.
U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-5) released the following statement on the ongoing vote to elect a Speaker of the House:
“I’m concerned that if they cave to the far-right extremists on the Motion to vacate, and continue to give away the store on committees and rules, Congress could be forced into a gridlock nightmare for the next two years — all at the expense of American families and progress.
“In 2018, I fought hard alongside members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to increase the threshold for a Motion to Vacate to help avoid empowering extremists and gridlock.
“We just had a Congress that was extraordinarily bipartisan and productive, and we have a ton of work still to do, with real bipartisan opportunities for the country. We can’t let a band of extremists get in the way of that and stop us from getting things done.”
Payne, who represents Newark, has voted seven times for U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for speaker, along with the rest of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.
On the other side of the aisle, 19 Republicans continue to support U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, preventing U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy from obtaining the 218 votes he needs to secure the speakership.
“This reminds me of the age- old question: what is the definition of insanity?” said Payne, referring to the fractured GOP’s repeated unsuccessful efforts to get McCarthy across the line.
“Both factions in the Republican caucus have dug their heels in,” said Payne. “McCarthy in his arrogance and ego will not relent and the freedom caucus refuses to vote for Mr. McCarthy.”
Payne likened Donalds to Hershel Walker, the former NFL star who narrowly failed last year in his Donald Trump-infused bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia.
“Byron Donalds is being used by the Republican caucus,” said Payne. “He is their new Herschel Walker. [It’s] very sad because he doesn’t realize it or wants to fit in so bad that he is ignoring it.”
Boosted by the right wing of his party, Walker managed to secure 48.6% of the general election vote in Georgia last year to 51.4% for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)
Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 2:23 p.m.
And again, following a ninth vote by members, at 3:52 p.m.
And again, in the midst of a tenth vote by members at 5:24 p.m.
And again at 6:56 p.m., when McCarthy’s 11th ballot vote failed.