McCarthy wins some GOP votes, but still falls short of a majority to win House Speaker

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is trying again on Friday to muster a majority in the chamber to win the speaker’s race after falling short in 12 rounds of voting, now in its fourth day this week.

Although Republicans have yet to reach a deal, McCarthy predicted before the House reconvened Friday, “You’re going to see some people who voted against me vote for me.” He was right – in the 12th round of voting, over a dozen absentees and an MP who had said “present” in the last few rounds changed their votes in his favor.

It marked the first time he had more votes than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, but McCarthy still fell short of a majority.

A presidential election has not gone beyond nine rounds since before the Civil War.

As McCarthy left the chamber Thursday night, he was still optimistic about his prospects for becoming speaker, though he declined to predict when he thought the vote might take place.

On Friday morning, just before a 10:15 a.m. GOP conference call to present the deal framework with some of his GOP opponents who oppose him, McCarthy told CBS News, “We’re going to shock you.” But after that conference call, two people on the call told CBS News that no agreement was reached.

On Wednesday, McCarthy made two key concessions to the 21 conservative opponents. The first would lower the threshold for a motion to impeach the speaker to just one House member, meaning any individual member could call for a vote to remove the speaker. The second would give Republicans the power to pick two of the nine members of the House Rules Committee, which has significant power over which legislation goes to the floor.

Despite those compromises, none of the abstentions supported McCarthy in any of Thursday’s four rounds of voting.

After the House adjourned for the day, McCarthy chose to take a philosophical view of the string of failed votes.

“We better get through this process right now so we can get the things we want to get done for the American public,” he said, adding, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And if we finish well, we will be very successful.”

The ongoing impasse leaves the House effectively at an impasse, as lawmakers must first select a speaker before moving on to other work in the new Congress.

Democrats remained united behind New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the first black leader of both houses of Congress. Jeffries and his aides said Democrats “are united and determined to stay in Washington as long as it takes to organize Congress.”

Ellis Kim contributed to this report.

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