Kevin McCarthy faces mounting pressure to end the impasse over his endangered speakership bid after two consecutive days of failed votes.
But even after offering big concessions to his hard-line opponents late Wednesday, it remains unclear whether the California Republican will be able to lock up the 218 votes he needs to win the gavel, and patience is running thin among lawmakers as the fight continues .
The House is scheduled to reconvene Thursday at 12 p.m. ET. It is not clear if there will then be a seventh vote on McCarthy’s presidency or if Republicans will adjourn the meeting. McCarthy is suspicious of additional votes that show 20 members are against him, and he wants to demonstrate some momentum going forward, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Republicans rallied Thursday morning, said Congressman Warren Davidson, who supports McCarthy.
“I think then they’re going to talk to Leader McCarthy and hopefully make a deal,” the Ohio Republican told CNN’s Caitlan Collins on “CNN This Morning,” though he acknowledged that McCarthy “may never get to 218 “.
McCarthy, however, struck an upbeat tone when he arrived on Capitol Hill.
“I think we’re making progress,” he said.
There are some early signs that the talks have made some progress as McCarthy and his allies try to eliminate opposition from a bloc of conservatives.
In a series of new discounts first reported by CNN on Wednesday evening, McCarthy agreed to propose a rule change that would allow only one member to call for a vote to remove a sitting speaker, according to two sources familiar with the matter. McCarthy initially proposed a threshold of five members, which is lower than current conference rules, which require half of the GOP to call for such a vote.
He also agreed to allow more members of the Freedom Caucus to sit on the powerful House Rules Committee, which dictates how and whether bills reach the floor, and to vote on several absentee-priority bills, including a motion to term limits for members and a border security plan.
Republican sources say that even if McCarthy’s proposals are adopted, it still would not give him the 218 votes he needs to be chairman. While these concessions could attract some new support, other opponents have raised various concerns that have yet to be fully addressed.
McCarthy said Wednesday night that there was still no agreement to end the impasse, but that progress was being made. “I think it’s probably best for people to work a little longer,” McCarthy said after the House adjourned.
McCarthy has already made a number of concessions to his opponents, but so far his efforts have not been enough.
But sources said Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy’s allies and those who abstained were the most productive and serious yet. And in one sign of a breakthrough, the McCarthy-aligned super PAC agreed not to participate in open Republican primaries in safe seats — one of the big demands that conservatives have demanded but that McCarthy has so far resisted.
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, one of the conservatives who voted against McCarthy’s bid for chairman, has told GOP leaders he thinks he can land 10 candidates if the ongoing talks work out, according to GOP sources familiar with the internal affairs. discussions, and that there are additional detractors who may be willing to vote “present”.
Still, even if those talks are successful and 10 lawmakers turn to McCarthy’s column — which is far from certain — that won’t get McCarthy to the 218 votes needed to win the presidency, so he’ll still there is more work to be done.
McCarthy also met separately Wednesday with the newly elected members who voted against him, sources told CNN.
During the meeting, McCarthy repeated some of the things he had already promised and went into greater detail about those concessions.
McCarthy’s direct engagement with the newly elected offers another window into his strategy for winning over opponents.
Incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer commented that the talks were “very, very constructive.”
“There were a whole bunch of members who were involved in this, and now there are some people who are sitting down and talking about this discussion to see where they want to go with it next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
One moderate Republican told CNN Thursday morning that they are not happy with the concessions, although they are willing to have “discussions” about them.
The fear is that lowering the threshold for a vote to remove the Speaker to one member will make it almost impossible to manage items such as the debt limit and funding.
“I don’t like the rules, but I’m ready to hear discussions. I think they are a mistake for the conference. These handful of people want a weak speaker with a majority of four votes. I’m afraid the public is not going to like what they’re seeing from the Republican Party,” the member said.
The battle for the presidency, which began Tuesday on the first day of the 118th Congress, has thrown the new GOP majority in the House of Representatives into disarray and undermined the party’s agenda.
As the battle drags on, the situation becomes increasingly dire for McCarthy’s political future, as even some of his Republican allies begin to fear that the House GOP leader may fail to follow through on his speakership bid if the battle lasted much longer.
McCarthy has so far failed in six rounds of voting. The final GOP tally for the sixth ballot, held Wednesday, was 201 for McCarthy, 20 for the Florida representative. Byron Donalds from Florida and one “present” vote.
The House will remain paralyzed until this standoff is resolved. This is the first time that a presidential election has been held with multiple votes since 1923.
To be elected speaker, a candidate must win a majority of members voting for a particular person in the chamber. This amounts to 218 votes if no member misses the vote or votes “present”.
Republicans in the House of Representatives won 222 seats in the new Congress, so McCarthy, to reach 218, can afford to lose only four GOP votes.
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