It remains unclear when a new speaker of the House of Representatives will be chosen, as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy scrambles to drum up support for his flailing bid for the speakership.
The GOP leader has lost 11 votes in three days to become speaker this week, falling short of the 218 votes he needs for a majority in the chamber.
It is the first time in a century that the election of a Speaker of the House of Representatives has gone on multiple ballots.
The number of votes required to hold the club could change if some elected members vote “present” or choose not to attend for votes, meaning the threshold for a majority is lower, which seems unlikely to happen.
In the first two rounds of voting on Tuesday, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy, while 20 Republicans voted against him in the third round. With 222 Republicans elected to the House in the 2022 midterms, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes as Democrats appear unwilling to help him across the finish line.
Several more roll call votes took place on Wednesday and Thursday – all also coming up short. The House will now reconvene on Friday to continue voting and try to reach an agreement to elect a Speaker so regular House business can begin.
Despite the humiliating loss, Mr McCarthy remained defiant, telling reporters the processes were “taking a bit longer” and were not “meeting the deadline”.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” he insisted Thursday night. “If we finish well, we will be very successful.”
While allies of the GOP leader have tried to negotiate with the dissidents, dubbed by some in the Republican Party on Tuesday the “Taliban 19,” there are few signs of optimism that the crisis will resolve.
Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, an ally of Mr McCarthy who speaks to right-wing members opposed to the leader, said: “I don’t think anyone should assume anything drastic is going to happen quickly. We have to be patient.”
“The fever must break here. What has to happen is that the temperature has to go down, he added, according to Politico.
“Personally, I think we should have an agreement before we go to the floor, but that’s not my decision,” he said.
Elected Republican members from all parts of the House conference agree on one thing — there is no plan, and it remains unclear what happens next, the outlet noted. Reports of a deal emerged Thursday night, but some holdovers continued to vow they would not support McCarthy’s bid.
“I will not be voting for Kevin McCarthy,” Matt Gaetz tweeted late Thursday night.
“I resent the extent to which he uses the lobbyists and special interests to dictate how policy decisions, policy decisions and leadership decisions are made. We have zero confidence in him.”
Late Tuesday night, McCarthy suggested he might try to get some of his members to vote “present” instead of another candidate, lowering the threshold for him to become speaker.
“You just have to get more votes than 212, where the Democrats are. Ideally, it would be nice to get 222,” he said, referring to the total number of Republicans in the chamber.
The 212 elected Democrats have remained united behind their new leader – Brooklyn, New York Representative-elect Hakeem Jeffries.
But some of the Republicans blocking McCarthy’s path to the podium rejected the idea of a “present” vote.
Gaetz said the idea was “absurd” and Chip Roy of Texas said, “I just don’t see it”.
“If he’s literally trying to patch together votes, to scrape together the votes by trying to carve out current votes and hope that some people don’t show up or something — I just don’t see that as a path to a strong leadership position, Mr. Roy added, according to Politico.
“We are basically at a dead end. So what are we going to do, have the same number of votes for 10 ballots? It’s ridiculous and it makes no sense, said Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican. “He has to prove he can get there. At the end of the day, you must close the deal. … We don’t reward not closing deals.”