McCarthy gains several GOP votes but still lacks majority to win House speaker

Republican leader of the House Kevin McCarthy is trying again Friday to muster a majority on the floor to win the race for speaker after falling short in 13 rounds of voting, now in its fourth day this week.

Although Republicans have yet to reach an agreement, McCarthy predicted before the House meeting on Friday, “You’re going to see some people who have been voting against me vote for me.” He was right: In the 12th round of voting, more than a dozen opponents and one lawmaker who had said “present” in recent rounds switched their votes in his favor.

In the 13th round, he won one more, but was still a few votes short. Two GOP members who missed early voting Friday plan to return to Washington Friday night. If no one leaves, 434 lawmakers will vote and McCarthy will need 218 to win. He had 214 in the 13th round. He will have to turn around two resisters or at least convince three resisters to vote “present”.

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After the House adjourned until 10 p.m., McCarthy declared, “I’ll have the votes” as he walked from the floor to his office.

Friday marked the first day that McCarthy had a higher number of votes than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries.

The election of the president has not gone beyond nine rounds since before the Civil War.

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On Friday morning, just before a 10:15 a.m. GOP conference to lay out the framework for a deal with some of the GOP holdouts who opposed it, McCarthy told CBS News, “We’re going to hit you.” But after that conference call, two people on the call told CBS News that no deal had been reached.

McCarthy made two key concessions to the 21 Tories on Wednesday. The first would lower the threshold for a motion to vacate the seat to just one member of the House, meaning any member could ask for a vote to oust the speaker. The second would give GOP rebels the power to pick two of the nine members of the House Rules Committee, which has considerable power over what legislation is introduced.

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Despite those commitments, none of those who did not supported McCarthy in any of Thursday’s four rounds of voting.

The ongoing impasse leaves the House effectively in limbo, as lawmakers must first choose a speaker before moving on to other matters in the new Congress.

Democrats have remained united behind New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the first black party leader in either house of Congress. Jeffries and his lieutenants said Democrats “are united and committed to staying in Washington as long as it takes to organize Congress.”

Ellis Kim, Rebecca Kaplan, and Alan I contributed to this report.

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