WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Thursday marks the third day without a functioning Congress as House representatives cannot be sworn in until a new speaker has been elected. After six rounds of voting in two days, the U.S. still does not have a new House speaker.
Lawmakers will reconvene on Thursday to vote for their new House speaker, yet again, as House Republicans were unable to either elect their leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cali.) as House speaker or come up with a new strategy to end the political chaos that has tarnished the start of their new majority.
Yet McCarthy wasn’t giving up, even after the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots produced no better outcome and he was left trying to call off a night-time session. Even that was controversial, as the House voted 216-214 — amid shouting and crowding — to adjourn for the night.
“No deal yet,” McCarthy said shortly before that as he left a lengthy closed-door dinner-time meeting with key holdouts and his own allies. “But a lot of progress.”
No progress at all was evident through the day of vote-after-vote-after vote as Republicans tried to elevate McCarthy into the top job. The ballots were producing almost the same outcome, 20 conservative holdouts still refusing to support him, and leaving him far short of the 218 typically needed to win the gavel.
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day,” said Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), in nominating McCarthy on the sixth ballot. She said, “To all Americans watching right now, we hear you. And we will get through this — no matter how messy.”
NewsNation sources said that McCarthy’s team and his allies left the building “much more confident” than they were Wednesday morning.
McCarthy and allies allegedly feel they’re making progress, the sources said. But McCarthy’s future is still uncertain as House representatives will vote again on Thursday.
A GOP source confirmed that McCarthy and his team continued to work with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), one of the “Never Kevin” members, and additional negotiating was done that led McCarthy’s allies to believe they have a chance to flip some of those holding out.
The question is will McCarthy’s efforts be enough to gain the votes he needs to be elected as speaker. He can only afford to lose four Republican votes.
While many Republicans and Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have called the failure to elect a speaker an “embarrassment,” some Republicans have made the case that democracy is messy and that is what it’s supposed to look like.
“This is Washington, we go through this from time to time. It’s unfortunate we’re doing it here, but we’re going to figure it out and elect a speaker,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) told NewsNation on Wednesday. “I fully anticipate we’re going to have a speaker by the time we finish our business on Thursday.”
But lawmakers have pointed out the major risk this delay causes, that if there’s any sort of national emergency, whether it be a terrorist attack or natural disaster, Congress would be unable to respond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.