WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California has offered new concessions to a hard-right insurgent gang in a desperate bid to narrow the vote to become speaker as a historic Republican impasse paralyzes Congress entered its third day on Thursday with no decision.
After losing half a dozen consecutive votes for the post two humiliating daysMr. McCarthy personally agreed to more demands from the right-wing rebels that he had previously refused to accept, including allowing one lawmaker to force a snap vote at any time to oust him as speaker, according to three people familiar with the matter. with negotiations, who described them on condition of anonymity, noting that they are ongoing and that no final deal has been reached.
The Republican leader had also pledged to let the right-wing caucus choose a third of the party’s members on the powerful rules committee, which controls what legislation reaches the floor and in what form, according to one of the people involved in the talks, as and to open spending bills to free debate in which any legislator could propose changes, including those designed to defeat or sink the measure.
Taken together, the concessions would significantly weaken the speaker’s power and create an unwieldy environment in the House, where the already thin Republican majority promised to make governance more difficult. And it was not clear that the proposal would be enough to muster the votes for Mr. McCarthy to prevail.
The House was due to return at midday and throw itself back into the fray after adjourning on Wednesday night without a decision, as Mr McCarthy and his allies haggled overnight with defectors to try to block the support he received slipped away.
In a House spectacle not seen for 100 years, staunch hard-right lawmakers repeatedly refused to back Mr. McCarthy, the party leader, who on Wednesday suffered three more humiliating defeats in a grim repeat of Tuesday’s three defeats.
The episode once again highlighted Republican divisions, bringing the House to a standstill and giving the new Republican majority an inglorious start, potentially heralding an era of dysfunction and chaos.
Mr McCarthy vowed to fight on, but it was unclear whether the stalemate could be broken and even a request from former President Donald J. Trump the party to rally around Mr. McCarthy failed.
The crisis — the first of its kind from 1923when it took nine votes to elect a Speaker—effectively blocked the work of the Housepreventing lawmakers from being sworn in, delaying the adoption of new rules to govern the chamber, and making legislative work impossible.
It also highlighted the weakness of Mr McCarthy, who has declared himself the direct heir to the presidency and the man best suited to lead his party’s razor-thin majority, raising serious questions about his ability to count votes and control his unruly rank-and-file.
With all members elected to the House present and voting, Mr McCarthy needs 218 votes to become speaker, leaving little room for Republicans as the party controls just 222 seats. He consistently fell short of that mark this week, garnering no more than 203 votes, though fellow Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York won 212, with all members of his party rallying behind him.
On Wednesday, Mr. McCarthy lost the fourth, fifth and sixth votes, with the same 20 defectors who opposed him on Tuesday throwing their support behind Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who had just been elected to his second term and was the first black , be nominated by the Republicans for the post.
Even as he and his allies tried to muster the votes he would need to win a majority, Mr. McCarthy was losing ground.
Still, his supporters ended the day on Wednesday in a hopeful mood, suggesting that the new concessions Mr. McCarthy has made privately will finally sway enough abstentions to secure him the speakership. His political action committee struck a deal with the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group that opposed Mr. McCarthy’s bid for speaker, agreeing not to spend money to support candidates in open primaries in safe Republican seats.
It was a key demand from conservatives, who have been angered by the group’s efforts to back more mainstream candidates over the far-right, though it was unclear whether the pledge would be enough to win over any of the rebels.
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