New Congress live updates: McCarthy tells GOP members no deal yet as speaker standoff enters fourth day

Michael Godek/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The House Republican leadership standoff will stretch into a fourth day on Friday after 11 failed votes so far to decide on a speaker over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is being stymied by a small group of hardliners. They are demanding concessions, to reshape how the House is run and legislation it prioritizes, or alternative candidates.

The House can conduct no other business — and members can’t be sworn in — until a speaker is chosen.

This is now the longest speaker election since 1859.

Here’s how the story is developing. All times Eastern:

McDonalds Is Hiring

Jan 06, 11:22 AM EST
No speaker deal yet, McCarthy tells members on GOP call

During a conference call this morning with the Republican conference, McCarthy told members that there’s not officially a deal to vote him speaker, but said he believes they’re “in a good position” and working in “good faith.”

“I’m not telling you we have an agreement,” McCarthy said on the call, according to multiple sources. “We’re in a good position and having meetings.”

McCarthy ally, Patrick McHenry, said on the call that no gavels for committee chairmanships have been promised during their talks.

McCarthy, again, said on this call that he has agreed to offer a key concession: making it even easier to remove him as speaker if he is elected. So, a single member, from either party, can trigger an up-or-down simple majority vote on whether to remove the speaker.

But still, after failing 11 times, the math still doesn’t appear to be in McCarthy’s favor. And there could be votes over the weekend.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a pro-McCarthy ally, told ABC News that the next phase of working on the handful of hard no’s will involve more isolated discussions with those who have concerns beyond just personal issues.

“It’s not a monolithic group. Each one of them have different concerns. Some, it’s motion to vacate, some, it’s guardrails around the budget. But when you shrink that group down, you’re able to have one-on-one conversations as to what does it take for them to get to yes, if anything,” Fitzpatrick said.

Jan 06, 11:14 AM EST
Jan. 6 anniversary highlights election deniers blocking McCarthy

The vast majority of the Republicans blocking McCarthy’s speaker bid have given life to the so-called “big lie” in the two years since the Capitol attack.

Of the 15 incumbents in the flank rejecting McCarthy, 14 challenged the results of the 2020 election two years ago.

Just two of the 20, which includes five freshmen, acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2020 election: Chip Roy of Texas and Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma.

The small but significant group appears on the verge now of taking the reins of power in Washington by using their leverage against McCarthy, who himself has a tortured relationship with Jan. 6 and the 2020 election.

McCarthy was one of 147 House Republicans to reject its certification ahead of a floor speech deeming Trump “bears responsibility” for the “mob attack.”

Jan 06, 10:28 AM EST
House Republican slams GOP hardliners ‘holding us hostage’

With all other House business put on hold, Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska has continued to voice frustration with the small but significant flank of his party refusing to support McCarthy’s speaker bid.

“Our constituents call me and they want help with passports, visas, disability claims with the VA, and all that’s on hold — and that’s because of these 20 people who are holding us hostage,” Bacon told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott.

Bacon, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and House Committee on Armed Services, said he was also forced to cancel a classified briefing this week because he lost his security clearance.

Jan 06, 9:17 AM EST
McCarthy’s quest enters 4th day after 11 failed speaker votes

With the House set to reconvene at noon, McCarthy’s quest for the House speakership enters a fourth day Friday following 11 failed attempts this week.

It’s unclear if Republicans will attempt to adjourn the House until next week, providing more time for negotiations, or if the House will immediately enter additional rounds of votes.

As this becomes the longest speaker race since before the Civil War, the California Republican has downplayed the prolonged process, saying late Thursday, “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”

All House business remains at a standstill until a speaker is elected — a fact Democrats have criticized.

“As we mark a day that threatened our Democracy, let us show our respect for the great institution of the Congress,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, noting the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack. “We must open the House and proceed with the People’s work.”

Jan 06, 12:07 AM EST
Kevin McCarthy to ABC News: ‘It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish’

It’s the question that’s top of mind for everyone on Capitol Hill: How long will this drag out?

“I’d love to know… but we’re working through it, we made good progress today, so we’ll continue to talk,” leader McCarthy told ABC News Thursday night, also saying: “I’m not putting any timeline, I just think we’ve got some progress going on, we’ve got members talking. I think we’ve got a little movement. So we’ll see.”

Sources tell ABC News that McCarthy is inching closer to a deal that could earn the support of at least 12 more Republicans. But he can only lose the support of four members from his own party.

McCarthy said he’s willing to drag it out for as long as it takes.

“I’m not putting any timeline, I just think we’ve got some progress going on, we’ve got members talking,” he said. “I think we’ve got a little movement. So we’ll see.”

He insisted he wouldn’t be a “weaker speaker” if he were to be elected because of the concessions he has made.

“We have a five-seat majority. So, it’s not one side is going to get more than the other, it’s the entire conference is going to have to learn how to work together,” McCarthy said. “So, it’s better that we go through this process right now so we can achieve the things we want to achieve for the American public, what our commitment was.”

“So, if this takes a little longer, and it doesn’t meet your deadline, that’s OK. Because it’s not it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish, and if we finish well, we’ll be very successful,” he added.

-ABC News’ Rachel Scott, Katherine Faulders and Allie Pecorin

Jan 05, 9:52 PM EST
House committee staffers could miss paychecks without a speaker

A memo sent to prospective House committees on Thursday night outlined some of the impact the prolonged speaker fight could have on Capitol Hill if it continues to drag out.

The guidance obtained by ABC News states that if the House hasn’t adopted a rules package, which outlines how the chamber runs, committees’ payroll payments and student loan repayments would be impacted.

“Committees need to be aware that should a House Rules package not be adopted by end of business on January 13 payroll will not be processed for any committee staff since the committee’s authority for the new Congress is not yet confirmed,” the memo, sent by the House’s chief administrative officer, states.

The memo also notes that House employees who are enrolled in a student loan forgiveness program may be impacted: “Committees need to be aware that should a House Rules package not be adopted by end of business on January 13 no committee will be able to process student loan payments since the committee’s authority for the new Congress is not yet confirmed.”

The House cannot conduct normal business until a speaker is selected, including adopting rules. Possibly further complicating the timeline, sources tell ABC News that a potential new package currently being worked on will include a mandatory 72-hour review time for bills ahead of any votes, which would include the vote on the rules package.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin

Jan 05, 9:52 PM EST
Trump suffers lopsided political defeat after being nominated as speaker

Donald Trump was formally nominated for House speaker on Thursday — and the former president went on to win only one vote in the most recent round of the ongoing contest.

The 11th round of the speaker votes resulted in Trump’s most lopsided defeat of his political career, losing 200-13-6-1 (among Republicans), not to mention 212 Democrats who voted against him.

The math works out to only 0.45% of the House Republican conference voting for Trump for speaker. For his part, he has endorsed GOP leader McCarthy, who has so far been unsuccessful in persuading a minority of his party to back him.

Trump’s lone vote? Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

-ABC News’ John Parkinson

Jan 05, 8:20 PM EST
House adjourns after 3 days of failed votes

House Republicans successfully, though narrowly, voted on Thursday night to adjourn until noon on Friday following another day of unsuccessfully trying to choose a speaker.

Talks are ongoing between leader McCarthy and his critics. But the five rounds of votes on Thursday repeatedly showed the same results as Tuesday and Wednesday: McCarthy is opposed by 20 members of his party, depriving him of the gavel.

The vote to adjourn ’til Friday was 219-213, with Democrats and one Republican opposed.

-ABC News’ Adam Carlson

Jan 05, 8:25 PM EST
McCarthy critics insist impasse is ‘healthy’

Several critics of McCarthy are insisting that their opposition is sparking worthwhile debate on the floor.

“I think it’s incredibly healthy, actually, for the American people to see that we’re on the floor,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who has sought to block McCarthy’s path to the speakership and nominated Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., to hold the gavel.

Several more junior lawmakers lamented the lack of debate on legislation on the House floor and said the conversations over the speakership marked a drastic uptick in the amount of back-and-forth in the chamber.

“We have had more discussion and debate over the last three days than I have participated in on this floor for the last two years,” said Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., who also nominated Donalds. “And it’s healthy. It absolutely promotes the collegiality that everyone is striving to obtain.”

Jan 05, 7:59 PM EST
Republicans attempt to adjourn until Friday

Following another failed vote for speaker, at the end of the third day of deliberations, Republicans moved to adjourn the House until noon on Friday.

Democrats vocally opposed the motion, leading every lawmaker to have to cast an electronic ballot.

The vote is ongoing.

ABC News’ Adam Carlson

Jan 05, 7:54 PM EST
McCarthy loses 11th round of voting

McCarthy on Thursday night lost the 11th round of voting for House speaker, with little proven progress despite rumors of a coming agreement with his critics.

McCarthy won 200 votes, while House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York won 212. 12 Republicans voted for Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and seven more voted for Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., voted for former President Donald Trump, and Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., voted “present.”

Given that no person clinched an outright majority of votes, a speaker was not elected.

Jan 05, 6:14 PM EST
McCarthy loses 10th round of voting

In a repeat of the previous nine rounds since Tuesday, McCarthy on Thursday lost the 10th round of voting, extending his streak of defeats as his party failed to choose a speaker.

McCarthy won 200 votes, while House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York won 212. Thirteen Republicans voted for Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., a protest candidate against McCarthy, and seven more voted for Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., who is backing McCarthy himself despite this.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., again voted “present.”

These tallies were essentially unchanged from every other round of voting.

It’s unclear if Republicans will try to adjourn after the vote is tallied, though talks between McCarthy and his critics are expected to continue.

Jan 05, 5:42 PM EST
Movement possible between McCarthy, critics — but real obstacles remain

With the speaker vote already at 10 historic rounds and counting, there are some early signs of movement toward a potential deal on a rules package between McCarthy and some of his detractors currently blocking him from the gavel.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a top McCarthy ally, said off the House floor to “stay tuned” and that the public should “see some movement in the next 24 hours or so” toward a potential deal regarding a rules package. That has been a sticking point for many of the McCarthy holdouts who want rules that would shrink the overall power of the speaker — and, in this view, increase the influence of other members and change the priorities of the GOP.

Fitzpatrick added, however, that, “We’re gonna be missing some numbers for medical issues and whatnot” on Friday.

That is another complicated issue facing McCarthy that may push the speaker vote to next week, given at least four members voting for McCarthy have to leave town for medical issues and family matters, according to sources.

Meanwhile, some of the most vocal McCarthy opponents have gone silent when asked for updates on progress — often a sign on Capitol Hill that a deal could be in the works.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a current no on McCarthy who has been in deep conversations with him and his team, has been mostly mum in the building, only saying that they are trying to work things out.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin

Jan 05, 5:45 PM EST
Lauren Boebert nominates Kevin Hern

Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert nominated her colleague from Oklahoma, Rep. Kevin Hern, for speaker.

Speaking to her GOP colleagues, Boebert said “it’s time to build momentum” around a different candidate.

“Many of you have said it. You see that Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes,” she said.

Boebert and Oklahoma’s new Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen voted for Hern in the previous round. Hern was first elected to the House in 2018 and has served on the House Ways and Means Committee. He currently chairs the Republican Study Committee.

Jan 05, 4:44 PM EST
McCarthy losses continue to pile up

McCarthy lost in the ninth round of voting, as he continues to remain stagnant with an insufficient amount of support.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries again netted 212 votes as his entire caucus rallied around him. The GOP alternatives to McCarthy — Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Kevin Hern, R-Okla. — earned 17 votes and three votes, respectively.

McCarthy lost one vote from prior rounds as supporter Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., did not vote though it was unclear why.

Indiana Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz again voted present.

For the first time since 1859, before the Civil War, at least a 10th round of voting is needed to elect a speaker of the House.

Jan 05, 2:59 PM EST
McCarthy loses again in 8th round of voting

McCarthy has suffered yet another defeat.

The California congressman received 201 votes in the eighth round, matching other recent rounds. Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York won 212 votes and Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, the GOP nominee put up against McCarthy, won 17 votes.

This round, there was another Kevin — Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma — who received votes.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., voted for Hern, who hadn’t previously been mentioned for speaker. Hern has served in the House for four years and has been backing McCarthy for speaker.

For a second time today, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., voted for former President Donald Trump. Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz again voted present.

Jan 05, 2:18 PM EST
Nominations read out for 8th round of voting

The eighth round of speaker voting began on Thursday after Kevin McCarthy, Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Byron Donalds, R-Fla., were again nominated.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., put for McCarthy as speaker favored by a majority of the GOP conference, saying he would be different from past Republican speakers and mentioning several of the Californian’s critics by name.

“I vouched to my community that Kevin will do as he has promised. He will give us the opportunity to right to course,” Mast said.

Rep. Kathleen Clark, D-Mass., nominated Jeffries, the Democratic leader, while panning Republican opposition to policies on guns, insulin costs and more.

“This intraparty fight that the American people have been drawn into is imperiling our national security. It will imperil the ability of this government to deliver basic services. It is imperiling our jobs and our responsibility to serve our constituents. But it is also entirely predictable. They’re failing to convene Congress today, but for years they have failed to deliver their votes for the American people,” Clark said.

And Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who nominated Donalds, the GOP protest nominee against McCarthy, said it was necessary to change Congress’ leadership in order to change policies.

“They want something new. They want something different. And we are on a path that just continues. Where were we just 12 years ago? An $11 trillion national debt. Where are we now? Almost three times that. Both parties share blame in that. We have to bring that under control. You bring that under control not just by changing the rules of an institution but by changing the leadership,” Biggs said.

“I believe if you want to make change, you have to make change. Maintaining the status quo is not an option today.”

Jan 05, 2:18 PM EST
Nominations read out for 8th round of voting

The eighth round of speaker voting began on Thursday after Kevin McCarthy, Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Byron Donalds, R-Fla., were again nominated.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., put for McCarthy as speaker favored by a majority of the GOP conference, saying he would be different from past Republican speakers and mentioning several of the Californian’s critics by name.

“I vouched to my community that Kevin will do as he has promised. He will give us the opportunity to right to course,” Mast said.

Rep. Kathleen Clark, D-Mass., nominated Jeffries, the Democratic leader, while panning Republican opposition to policies on guns, insulin costs and more.

“This intraparty fight that the American people have been drawn into is imperiling our national security. It will imperil the ability of this government to deliver basic services. It is imperiling our jobs and our responsibility to serve our constituents. But it is also entirely predictable. They’re failing to convene Congress today, but for years they have failed to deliver their votes for the American people,” Clark said.

And Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who nominated Donalds, the GOP protest nominee against McCarthy, said it was necessary to change Congress’ leadership in order to change policies.

“They want something new. They want something different. And we are on a path that just continues. Where were we just 12 years ago? An $11 trillion national debt. Where are we now? Almost three times that. Both parties share blame in that. We have to bring that under control. You bring that under control not just by changing the rules of an institution but by changing the leadership,” Biggs said.

“I believe if you want to make change, you have to make change. Maintaining the status quo is not an option today.”

Jan 05, 1:50 PM EST
McCarthy tells ABC he’s ‘confident’ solution will come as he faces another defeat

As he barreled toward a seventh defeat on Thursday, McCarthy told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott that he was still confident his party would get to a solution to the historic stalemate over speaker. But he insisted he doesn’t “pick the day.”

Scott pressed McCarthy on whether the concessions he made to his opponents were enough.

“Concessions,” he laughed with a smirk.

“I think we’re having good discussions. I think everybody wants to find a solution. And the good thing about it is we worked this all out at the beginning, so the rest of the Congress will be very productive for the American public,” he said.

When asked if he was confident he would get the votes he needed on Thursday, McCarthy responded: “Look, I don’t pick the day. I’m confident we’ll get to the solution. Otherwise, we won’t be successful. So I think everybody, of the members I’ve talked to, have been very productive. They’ve been productive in their discussions, their ideas, and I just feel in these meetings the attitudes of everyone is they want to find a solution. And that’s positive. So I think we’ll get there.”

Pressed on how to convince his critics who don’t trust him to vote for him, McCarthy laughed again.

“Everybody builds trust,” he said.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said he expects another round of voting on Thursday.

-with ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Gabe Ferris and Allison Pecorin

Jan 05, 1:44 PM EST
McCarthy loses 7th round, Gaetz votes for Trump

McCarthy on Thursday lost another election for speaker, failing to pick up any votes despite making new concessions to the conservative GOP rebels opposing his bid.

McCarthy received 201 votes in the seventh round — the same number he received in the three votes held on Wednesday.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., again saw the most support with 212 votes from the Democratic caucus. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., received 19 votes as the GOP’s protest nominee against McCarthy.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a leading opponent of McCarthy, voted for Donald Trump for House speaker. This is the first time Trump has received a vote. The former president, weighing in on the speaker battle, has thrown his support behind McCarthy.

One lawmaker, Indiana Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz, voted present.

Jan 05, 12:38 PM EST
7th round of voting underway

Members are currently voting for a seventh time to elect a speaker of the House.

The matchup is the same as the previous three rounds: McCarthy is facing Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Republican Rep. Byron Donalds.

The results will show whether McCarthy’s gained any support after offering new concessions to his critics.

“People ask me, ‘What is the end game? How does this end?’ The answer to this question is that this is a dynamic process. All of the decisions on this floor result from the coming together of minds, one way or another,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said as he nominated Donalds. “This is the people’s business. We will resolve the people’s business.”

Jan 05, 12:34 PM EST
Freshman John James nominates Kevin McCarthy for speaker

Freshman Rep. John James, D-Mich., nominated House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Calif., for speaker as the third day of voting got underway.

James compared the vote to that of 1856, when it took months to elect a speaker — but boasted that McCarthy would emerge victorious.

“The leading Republican nominee won then, and the leading Republican nominee will win again today,” he said.

James conceded that “we’re stuck at a malaise, at an impasse, and we will stay here,” but insisted that McCarthy deserved the speakership after Republicans won the House majority.

“You don’t fire a guy who’s winning,” he said, before urging Republicans to accept the victory.

“We need to learn how to win.”

Jan 05, 9:27 AM EST
McCarthy makes new offer to defectors amid speakership showdown

There is now an offer on the table from McCarthy to the small but influential group of hard-line conservatives opposing his bid for speaker, sources familiar with discussions told ABC News.

The Republican leader, who has now notched six successive losses for speaker, has proposed a new round of key concessions that includes making it easier for members to remove him as speaker.

McCarthy’s offer, if approved by the full GOP conference on the floor in the rules package, would make it so a single member from either party could trigger an up-or-down simple majority vote on whether to oust the speaker. This is down from the threshold of five members McCarthy initially agreed to.

It’s unclear if the offer will make a difference, as some hard-line conservatives are digging in against McCarthy. The House is set to reconvene at noon today.

He’s also offered to put more members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee and votes on legislation his opponents have been pushing for, including term limits for members of Congress and border security.

The group of conservative rebels who’ve opposed him are meeting this morning to consider the offer and plot their strategy going forward.

Jan 04, 9:38 PM EST
McCarthy sounds undeterred: ‘We talk until we get this done’

Leaving the chamber after it adjourned for the night on Wednesday, McCarthy — surrounded by a phalanx of security and a mob of reporters — initially joked and razzed a reporter he’s known for more than a decade. He seemingly celebrated a razor-thin GOP vote to adjourn the chamber after another day of unsuccessful attempts to elect him speaker.

He also said “continual votes,” like they been having since Tuesday, are unproductive, instead touting the evening’s closed-door talks as the way forward.

McCarthy asked the reporter, John Bresnahan, “Club for Growth — is that movement for you? You just saw a vote on the floor that the conference voted together on?”

McCarthy was referring to a newly announced deal between a political action committee aligned with him and Club for Growth, another major conservative group.

Bresnahan jokingly replied of the successful adjournment vote, “You’re very proud of that.”

“Hey, I crawl before I walk and walk before I run, and I felt as though we had a very good discussion,” McCarthy said, adding, “I think what you should gauge, being able to do that vote, [is] that the discussions are going well but that doesn’t mean they’re done. That doesn’t mean anything on that. But it’s just in that realm.”

Another reporter asked, “What happens between now and noon tomorrow [when the House returns]?”

“We talk until we get this done,” McCarthy said.

Bresnahan asked if there would be votes tomorrow, to which McCarthy replied: “People know where everybody’s at. These votes don’t really change at all. So I mean, that’s fine. I think these discussions help that. I think from this aspect of seeing the vote here — people want to spend their time discussing than being on the floor.”

A reporter asked if McCarthy has asked Byron Donalds, a GOP protest candidate, to drop out. McCarthy said, “No. No.”

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Jan 04, 8:54 PM EST
House narrowly agrees to adjourn ’til Thursday after another day of failed votes

The motion to adjourn that was introduced shortly after the House returned from its Wednesday afternoon break passed by a narrow 216-214 vote. The chamber will return at noon on Thursday, presumably for more speaker votes.

Republicans had pushed for the adjournment, while Democrats and four Republicans opposed it, with some Democrats shouting for the clerk to stop the vote while the “no” votes were ahead.

The move to end for the night came after McCarthy held a closed-door meeting with detractors trying to block him from winning the speaker’s gavel. The meeting yielded no deal, but McCarthy said progress was made.

The vote to adjourn marked the climax of a second day of historic failed speaker votes — the first time in a century it has taken more than one round to pick a speaker.

Jan 04, 8:20 PM EST
Lawmakers gather after afternoon break, try to adjourn until Thursday

Lawmakers gathered Wednesday around 8 p.m. in the House after their afternoon adjournment and swiftly launched into a vote to adjourn again until Thursday at noon.

The House clerk asked for a voice vote, with Democrats then pressing for an individual counting of the votes, which is underway.

The effort to adjourn comes after McCarthy said progress had been made with the group of GOP critics blocking him the speakership but that there was no path yet to a firm deal.

Jan 04, 8:02 PM EST
McCarthy says 7th speaker vote would not yet be ‘productive’

Leaving a closed-door meeting during the House’s break from voting for a speaker on Wednesday, McCarthy said progress had been made but that there’s no deal yet and he doesn’t think another vote Wednesday night would be “productive.”

McCarthy, the Republican leader, has so far been blocked from the speakership by 20 members of his party repeatedly voting for other candidates — now across six rounds of voting over two days.

“I think it’s probably best to let people work through this more. I don’t think a vote tonight is productive. Let people work a little more,” McCarthy said after leaving the meeting with critics seeking to stop him from winning the speakership.

McCarthy said that while he didn’t have a deal in hand after meeting with the rebels, he insisted there was movement.

–ABC News’ Will Steakin, Lalee Ibssa and Gabe Ferris

Jan 04, 5:53 PM EST
Sources say House Republicans discuss ‘nuclear option’: Lower vote threshold to be speaker

As McCarthy’s quest to become speaker of the House continues to fall short, some of his allies are exploring a radical idea: lowering the threshold needed to be elected.

Under current House rules, a candidate needs an outright majority of all members voting to be elected speaker. With 433 members voting so far — and one member voting “present,” which doesn’t affect the total — that means McCarthy has repeatedly fallen far short of the 217 currently needed to win a majority.

The rules, however, can be changed: With a simple majority vote, the House could decide to allow a speaker to be elected with a plurality, or whoever has the most votes when no one has a majority. This has happened before, but very rarely.

It’s called the “nuclear option” because it would force anti-McCarthy voters to face a stark choice: vote for him or watch Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries get elected instead. After all, Jeffries has received 212 votes in every single round so far and the most McCarthy has received has been 203.

But would those 20 renegade Republicans continue to vote against McCarthy if doing so would result in electing a Democrat as speaker? Advocates of the option say the change would call the critics’ bluff and force them to vote for McCarthy or take the blame for ceding control of the House to Democrats.

According to two McCarthy allies in the House, the idea is being discussed among House Republicans. They believe Democrats would support the rules change.

One influential Republican voice, however, told ABC News he opposes the idea.

“I know it is an idea that has been floating around,” incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said. “I’d be opposed it.”

He added: “I know Hakeem would like, but I don’t.”

-ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl

Jan 04, 5:00 PM EST
State spokesperson on House speaker vote: ‘Democracy at work’

While the State Department does not frequently weigh in on matters of domestic politics, spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday afternoon directly addressed the tumult on Capitol Hill, painting a cheerier outlook than President Joe Biden did earlier.

Price was asked what message other countries around the world might take from the prolonged vote for House speaker — the first in a century.

“Our message has never been that democracy is neat or that democracy is seamless in terms of its operations. But what we’re seeing, what the world is seeing, are our democratic institutions at work,” Price said. “They are seeing our democracy at work.”

“Democracy isn’t always without its complications. But when processes are followed, institutions are respected, ultimately the outcome is one that everyone can get behind.”

Reporters asked Price whether the redundant, and so far fruitless, votes in the House — which is keeping the chamber in limbo — might give the impression of an inefficient governing system and if the first failed speaker vote in 100 years was an indicator that U.S. democracy was weakening.

“Look, I’m not going to characterize the U.S. political system,” Price said. “I will just say that there is a process that is being hued to right now by elected lawmakers. That in itself is a testament to the functioning of democracy, even if that functioning may be taking just a little bit longer than it has in the past 100 years or so.”

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Jan 04, 5:06 PM EST
Meet ‘the most famous future member of Congress’

ABC News’ Jay O’Brien caught up with Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., outside of the House floor during the sixth round of votes for speaker — but Gomez wasn’t alone.

He was holding, in a swaddle, who ABC News Live anchor Kyra Phillips called “probably the most famous future member of Congress.”

Gomez had brought along his 4-month-old son Hodge for the votes on Tuesday and Wednesday; photos of the baby had already lit up social media.

“One of the things my wife and I wanted to do is make sure that he was, you know, personable, he got along with people and that he loved people,” Gomez said. “So we started making sure that he was used to it. And then he loved it. He loved being on the floor. Everybody was smiling at him, playing with him … And I think he’s gotten more votes for speaker than I have, maybe even Kevin McCarthy.”

Gomez called his son “my legacy, and I think all kids are our legacy. So I realized I wanted to bring him to the [House] floor to have him witness history, but also to recognize that he is what we’re fighting for. He represents the millions of kids that don’t have the privilege to be on the floor.”

O’Brien noted how well behaved Hodge was in the bustling chamber. Hodge had no comment but seemed to bob his head in response.

Of the news of the day, Gomez said he does not believe any Democrats will break ranks to vote for McCarthy, who has so far failed to unify the GOP majority to vote for him as speaker.

Jan 04, 4:36 PM EST
House adjourns until 8 p.m.

With the Republican conference still divided between a pro-McCarthy majority and 20 anti-McCarthy members, the House has chosen to adjourn until 8 p.m.

The motion from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., was adopted by voice vote, though Democrats appeared staunchly opposed to the break — but did not call for a recorded vote.

Shortly before adjournment, McCarthy told reporters “we’re gonna break in a little then go meet” when asked what was next after the sixth failed vote.

Jan 04, 4:21 PM EST
McCarthy loses speaker vote for the sixth time

McCarthy, for the sixth time in two days, has failed to get enough votes to become the next speaker of the House.

The vote count for this round was unchanged from the previous two rounds: McCarthy won 201 votes, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries won 212 votes and Rep. Byron Donalds, the current GOP protest candidate against McCarthy, won 20 votes.

Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz also voted “present” for the third time.

Jan 04, 3:56 PM EST
McCarthy says: ‘We’re gonna break … then go meet’

McCarthy is likely to continue negotiating into Wednesday night, after two days of failed speaker votes, and ABC News has learned that he is working to set up talks to attempt to come to an agreement with the group of 20 voting against him.

The logistics of such talks are still being nailed down — and according to people close to him, there is no singular leader of this group of 20.

When this will happen is unclear. Democrats and some Republicans have not yet wanted to adjourn the House, meaning they do not have the votes for adjourning and then continuing negotiations.

Off the House floor during the sixth round of voting, which McCarthy looked set to lose as well, he told reporters that “we’re gonna break in a little then go meet” when asked what’s next. He did not give any other specifics.

The House on Tuesday afternoon adjourned for the day after three rounds of votes, and they could repeat that pattern on Wednesday.

McCarthy has already made some major concessions to his critics without winning their support. He has agreed to lower the threshold to five members to force a vote to remove the speaker — known as a motion to vacate the chair.

Some anti-McCarthy members want this threshold to be lowered to one member.

Others have said that they want more responsibilities on the the panel charged with placing members on committees — known as the steering committee — and have proposed giving more members of the House Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee designated seats on it.

McCarthy would likely only agree to this if he knew he was able to flip enough votes.

Former congressman Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party in 2019 and became the first member of Congress to call for Donald Trump to be impeached, is also present on the House floor.

He spoke to reporters, saying he’s here to pitch himself as a consensus speaker candidate if he’s needed and said he plans to speak to members about it. (This is a long shot bid, although the speaker does not need to be a current member of Congress.)

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin

Jan 04, 4:01 PM EST
Perry is latest McCarthy critic to nominates Donalds

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chair of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, nominated Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., for speaker in the sixth round of voting.

“He has accomplished many things. He is a man of faith, he is a family man, he is a businessman … he has come from the school of hard knocks,” Perry said. “He’s got a record of accomplishing things. He’s got a record of being on the right side. He is respected. He is trusted.”

Perry also took a swipe at GOP leader McCarthy and his allies, who have suggested the Californian is responsible for heralding in the new Republican majority.

“I think the person that has done the most to make this fabulous, this wonderful Republican majority, is Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and her policies. That’s what has achieved this majority here,” he said.

Donalds is so far earning 20 votes from Republicans in each round. He initially voted for McCarthy in the early rounds but switched his vote, saying McCarthy couldn’t win.

Jan 04, 4:32 PM EST
Cammack sparks Dem outrage after suggesting they brought alcohol to the floor

Remarks from Republican Rep. Kat Cammack suggesting Democrats brought alcohol into the chamber caused an outcry from the party shortly before the sixth round of speaker voting began.

“Diversity of thought is a good thing. But they want us divided. They want us to fight each other. That much has been made clear by the popcorn and blankets and alcohol that has come in over there,” she said as she was nominating McCarthy.

Some Democrats shouted back “take down her words!” — referring to a request to have her comment formally challenged and then stricken — and “make her apologize!”

Many members were also heard vocally reacting, including yelling objections.

Clerk Cheryl Johnson then asked “all members-elect to abide by the established decorum of the House” while nominating candidates for speaker.

Jan 04, 3:22 PM EST
House setting up sixth vote: ‘It’s Groundhog Day’

The House is moving full steam ahead with a sixth round of voting on Wednesday.

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day, again,” Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said as she began her nomination speech for McCarthy.

“To all Americans watching right now, I want to tell you we hear you, we hear you,” Cammack said. “And we will get this right. No matter how messy this process is, we will emerge better for having been through this because nothing great ever comes easy.”.

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York was again nominated by his party, with California Rep. Pete Aguilar again giving the speech.

Jan 04, 3:21 PM EST
Biden jokes that a reporter has just been chosen as speaker

President Joe Biden joked to a reporter outside of Air Force One on Wednesday afternoon that “I’ve got good news for you: They just elected you speaker.”

But in a more substantive comment, he again repeated his concerns about how the House will be able to operate given Republican in-fighting.

“Well obviously I am,” he said, when asked if he was concerned about the dangers of the House not being functional.

“I’s embarrassing for the country. I mean literally … that’s the reality, that to have a Congress that can’t function, is just embarrassing,” he said. “We’re the greatest nation in the world, how can that be? And we’ve had a lot of trouble … with the attacks on our institutions already. And that’s what worries me more than anything else.”

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Jan 04, 2:46 PM EST
McCarthy loses fifth vote for speaker

McCarthy has lost the fifth round of voting for speaker.

The vote count was the same as the previous round: McCarthy received 201 votes, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries received 212 votes and Rep. Byron Donalds, the latest protest nominee from a faction of GOP lawmakers, received 20 votes.

Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz again voted “present.”

Jan 04, 2:37 PM EST
Boebert calls on McCarthy to withdraw

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a firebrand conservative and McCarthy foe — while nominating Rep. Byron Donalds in the fifth round of voting — said McCarthy does not have the votes to prevail and should withdraw.

She also said that former President Donald Trump, who has backed McCarthy, should now also call on McCarthy to end his bid..

“The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.”

Other members booed her as she concluded her remarks.

Jan 04, 1:58 PM EST

5th round of voting underway

The House wasted no time in starting up a fifth round of voting for speaker after Kevin McCarthy’s latest loss.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, stood up to nominate McCarthy shortly after the House clerk announced the vote count for the fourth round, during which McCarthy lost another supporter.

“Can we take a win every now and then? And give hope to the forgotten men and women of America, who no longer believe this place, this people’s house?” Davidson said.

Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar again nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert stood up to again nominate Florida Rep. Byron Donalds.

Jan 04, 1:55 PM EST
Who is Byron Donalds, latest protest nominee against McCarthy?

Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds was nominated on Wednesday as the latest protest nominee from within the GOP as leader Kevin McCarthy continues to struggle to win a majority to be elected speaker.

Who is Donalds?

Rep. Chip Roy, who nominated Donalds, called him a “dear friend, a solid conservative and, most importantly, a family man.”

Donalds’ campaign team has described him as a “Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment Black man.”

Roy noted in his nominating speech on Wednesday that, because Democrats are also nominating their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, “For the first time in history, there have been two Black Americans placed in nomination for speaker of the House.” That prompted a standing ovation from the chamber.

Donalds, like Jeffries, grew up in Brooklyn but went to college in Florida and built a career there in the financial and insurance industries, according to his House biography.

He was first elected to the House in 2020 after serving as a state representative and now represents Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

He and his wife have three sons.

-ABC News’ Adam Carlson and Benjamin Siegel

Jan 04, 1:22 PM EST
McCarthy fails to gain any support, loses speaker vote for 4th time

Kevin McCarthy has added another loss to his bid for House speaker.

McCarthy received 201 votes in the 4th and latest round, his least amount of support so far. On Tuesday, he had 203 votes in the first two rounds followed by 202 votes in the third round.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries netted 212 votes in this round. Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, nominated as an alternative to McCarthy, received 20 votes.

One member, Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, voted present — a departure from her three previous votes for McCarthy. Spartz’s present vote prompted cheers from McCarthy’s critics.

Jan 04, 1:19 PM EST
McCarthy, Pelosi on today’s vote as they headed to House floor

Kevin McCarthy, when walking to the House floor just moments before what appears to be another failed bid to be elected speaker, told reporters he remains just as determined to win the gavel.

But there’s still no strategy emerging. Asked how he gets to 218 votes today, he said, “We’re going to continue to talk; we’ll find an agreement, where we all get together, and we’ll work through this and we’ll get it done.”

McCarthy should not expect Democrats to come to the rescue, at least not according to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is a problem of their own making,” Pelosi told reporters.

“Don’t put this at the Democrats’ doorstep – this is their problem, and their lack of respect for this institution; their lack of respect for the responsibility that we all have to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and get the job done for the American people,” Pelosi said as she walked to the floor.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Jan 04, 12:55 PM EST
McCarthy appears headed for another defeat as Donalds nets critical votes

Rep. Byron Donalds already has 13 votes for speaker — apparently enough to defeat McCarthy’s bid to be speaker for a fourth time.

The vote is ongoing, and the final results are yet to be announced.

Jan 04, 12:40 PM EST
Standing ovation from both sides over Donalds nomination

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, pointed out that this is the first time two Black Americans have been nominated for speaker.

His remarks were met with a standing ovation from both Republicans and Democrats.

“However … we do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character,” Roy said after the applause quieted. “Byron Donalds is a good man, raised by a single mom, who moved past adversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21 and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and for this country. And he has done it admirably.”

Democrats nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who has already made history as the first Black man elected to lead a party in Congress. He will serve as the Democratic caucus leader for the next two years.

The fourth vote for speaker is ongoing.

Jan 04, 11:08 AM EST
GOP leadership in talks to adjourn after House reconvenes at noon

Republican leadership is in talks to adjourn the House right after it reconvenes at noon to resume the votes for speaker, sources familiar with the discussions told ABC News.

Some Kevin McCarthy allies have been pushing for the delay, so they can continue to engage in talks behind the scenes.

The House adjourned Tuesday after three rounds of failed votes to elect McCarthy.

It’s not yet clear if there will be any objections to adjourning. There was no roll call vote to adjourn the House Tuesday, but any member can request one.

If there is a roll call vote, which is likely, 218 votes are needed to adjourn the House.

-ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin

Jan 04, 11:14 AM EST
Biden calls GOP fight over speakership ’embarrassing’

Asked on his way out of the White House about the GOP standoff in the House, President Joe Biden said electing a speaker is “not a good look” to the rest of the world.

“That’s not my problem,” Biden offered reporters. “I just think it’s a little embarrassing, that it’s taking so long and the way that they’re dealing with each other. And the rest of the world is looking, they’re looking at can we get our act together.”

“For the first time in 100 years, we can’t move,” he added later on. “It’s not a good look, it’s not a good thing. This is the United States of America, and I hope they get their act together.”

Biden was on his way to highlight improvements to a bridge that connects Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky, to tout an investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alongside Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Jan 04, 10:44 AM EST
McCarthy arrives on Capitol Hill: ‘I think we’ll get to 218’

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy arrived on Capitol Hill moments ago and entered the House speaker’s office, although he’s still fighting for the votes to take the position. McCarthy opponent Rep. Matt Gaetz has called him a “squatter” in the office.

McCarthy and his security pushed through a swarm of reporters and photographers who sprinted up the stairs to chase him.

Asked by ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott if he made any progress, McCarthy said, “I think we’ll get to 218.”

Asked by another reporter what the game plan is, he answered, “same as yesterday.”

Jan 04, 10:48 AM EST
Trump repeats endorsement of McCarthy for speaker

Former President Donald Trump again called on Republicans to support McCarthy as the House remains without a speaker and Republicans appear in disarray.

“Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY …” Trump posted on Truth Social this morning. “Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!”

The post follows McCarthy telling reporters Tuesday night that the former president had reiterated his support for him. In an earlier interview with NBC News, Trump declined to say whether he supported McCarthy.

Among those Republicans who did not vote for McCarthy are some of Trump’s closest supporters in Congress, including Reps. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

It comes almost two years to the day that McCarthy, on the House floor, said Trump “bears responsibility” for the “attack on Congress by mob rioters” on Jan. 6, before flocking to Mar-a-Lago to see Trump three weeks later.

Jan 03, 9:36 PM EST
Speaker vote expected to resume Wednesday

A fourth round of voting for the House speaker is certain to resume after the chamber gathers again on Wednesday at noon.

Members-elect adjourned until then shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, after three rounds of voting failed to elect a speaker.

Republicans, who hold the majority, did not coalesce behind their chosen leader, McCarthy, with roughly 20 lawmakers choosing other candidates.

Walking off the House floor earlier Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters that the conference wants to be unified so they can start on long-promised investigations.

He said he does not want to be the speaker, despite the backing of some McCarthy defectors — he said he wants to chair the judiciary committee.

Jan 03, 5:46 PM EST
Frustration was growing as voting wound down

House lawmakers adjourned until Tuesday as some of them grew restless following the three rounds of unsuccessful voting for a new speaker.

Signs of frustration mounted during the third vote, with Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., saying he was backing McCarthy “because I’m interested in governing.”

The voting took place as lawmakers had family and friends in town, and it was unclear at the time how deep into the night voting would go.

McCarthy had vowed to keep voting until there was a speaker, but the motion to adjourn shortly before 6 p.m. drew little opposition.

-ABC News’ Will Steakin and Benjamin Siegel

Jan 03, 5:35 PM EST
House adjourns, will resume Wednesday

The House overwhelmingly chose late Tuesday afternoon to adjourn until noon on Wednesday after a motion from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., was adopted by voice vote

That decision came after three unsuccessful rounds saw no member-elect chosen as speaker, including McCarthy.

It’s the first time in a century that the speaker vote has taken multiple rounds.

Jan 03, 5:39 PM EST
McCarthy defector calls for ‘huddle’ to sort out speaker vote

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who changed his vote for speaker in the third round, said on social media that “continuous votes aren’t working.”

Donalds supported McCarthy during the first two rounds of voting, but then switched his choice to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. On Twitter, Donalds indicated that he does not believe McCarthy has the support to ultimately become speaker.

“Our conference needs to recess and huddle and find someone or work out the next steps…but these continuous votes aren’t working for anyone,” Donalds wrote.

“When the dust settles, we will have a Republican Speaker, now is the time for our conference to debate and come to a consensus.”

“Democracy is messy at times, but we will be ready to govern on behalf of the American people. Debate is healthy,” he added.

Jan 03, 5:07 PM EST
McCarthy loses a supporter — and 3rd round of speaker vote

In the third round of voting, 20 Republican lawmakers voted against McCarthy for speaker — the highest amount so far. Those votes went to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

In the first two rounds, 19 Republicans voted for a different candidate. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., voted for McCarthy two times before changing his vote to Jordan.

McCarthy received 202 votes in the latest round, making it the third time he’s trailed Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Democrats have already elected Jeffries to be their caucus leader in the new Congress.

Jan 03, 4:33 PM EST
McCarthy to ABC: ‘Their secret candidate nominated me’

“We stay in until we win,” McCarthy said as he headed back onto the House floor ahead of the third round.

After huddling with Reps. Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, Patrick McHenry and a few others off the floor, McCarthy told ABC News on his way back to the House floor that the prolonged vote was exactly what he was expecting to happen.

“This isn’t about me; this is about the conference now,” he said.

“If anybody wants to earn something, committee slots or others, you go through the conference to do that. You don’t get it by leveraging people. It just doesn’t happen,” he added.

McCarthy disputed that he hasn’t shown any progress throughout the afternoon.

“They put [Rep.] Jim Jordan [up as a candidate for speaker]. Remember how they all said they had a secret candidate. Their secret candidate nominated me, so where do they go now?”

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Allison Pecorin

Jan 03, 4:34 PM EST
McCarthy gets new defector in third round of voting

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., switched his vote for speaker after voting for McCarthy in the first two rounds.

Donalds, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, backed Rep. Jim Jordan in the third round of voting. If every candidate who voted for Jordan on the second ballot does so again, the Ohioan will get at least 20 votes.

Jan 03, 4:37 PM EST
Historic 3rd speaker vote underway in the House

Ahead of the House entering a third vote for the speakership, Rep. Pete Aguilar again nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for Democrats, prompting “Hakeem” chants from their side of the chamber, as Republicans remain in disarray.

“For unity in Congress and progress in our country, Democrats are united behind Hakeem Jeffries. I recommend Hakeem Jeffries as our speaker,” Aguilar said to applause.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas nominated Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, again, despite Jordan losing in prior votes, his saying he didn’t want the position and asking Republicans to unite around McCarthy.

“Now, Jim has said he doesn’t want that nomination, and Jim has been down here nominating Kevin, and I respect that. Again, I have no personal animus toward Kevin,” Roy said. “But we do not have the tools or the leadership yet to stop the swamp from rolling over the American people. Jim has been doing it, he has a track record for doing that, and for those reasons, I’m nominating Jim Jordan for speaker of the House.”

Jan 03, 4:15 PM EST
Scalise says McCarthy critics are obstructing legislation

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., McCarthy’s No. 2, slammed McCarthy’s critics as obstructionists to legislative efforts to tackle issues like immigration and energy reserves.

“We all came here to get things done. To get big things done. To solve the problems. And I hope when we get through today that all the members on both sides of the aisle will get together to solve the problems,” he said when nominating McCarthy before the third round of voting.

However, he said, “we can’t start fixing those problems until we elect Kevin McCarthy” as speaker.

Scalise’s speech came after Jordan nominated McCarthy. Both men have been floated as potential alternatives if McCarthy is unable to win the majority needed to clinch the speakership.

Jan 03, 4:00 PM EST
Scalise seems to be drafting McCarthy nomination speech

ABC News’ Ben Siegel, on the House floor, spotted Steve Scalise seemingly drafting a nomination speech for Kevin McCarthy.

This would mark another twist as Republicans still struggle to coalesce around any single candidate.

Jan 03, 3:58 PM EST
White House ‘willing to work’ with GOP in new Congress but avoids weighing in on leadership fight

After two failed votes to select a House speaker on Capitol Hill, the White House said it is “certainly not going to insert ourselves” into that process but are
“looking forward to working” with the new Republican-controlled House.

Asked by ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce what the president wants to work on with Republicans once the House GOP leadership is in place, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre didn’t offer any specifics on what policies it wants to be first on the agenda.

“He’s willing to work with Republicans who are willing to continue to deliver for the American people,” she said. “He is very optimistic on what lies ahead and how we are going to move our country forward.”

And when asked whether it may be more difficult to work with Republicans after the ongoing leadership fight, Jean-Pierre repeated President Joe Biden’s optimism and noted bipartisan legislation that was passed in his first two years.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Jan 03, 3:31 PM EST
Jordan says he told Gaetz not to nominate him as speaker

Right after Rep. Jim Jordan spoke on the House floor following the first vote — to support McCarthy in the next round — Rep. Matt Gaetz turned the tables and enthusiastically nominated Jordan to be speaker.

But Jordan told ABC News afterward that he told Matt Gaetz not to nominate him. Jordan would go on to pick up 19 votes in the second ballot.

Gaetz had said weeks ago he thought Jordan would be a good choice for speaker.

-ABC News’ Will Steakin and Katherine Faulders

Jan 03, 3:27 PM EST
McCarthy loses 2nd ballot as 19 Republicans vote for Jordan

Kevin McCarthy has fallen short of the votes needed to win House speaker for a second time.

Once again, 19 Republicans voted against McCarthy — this time unanimously backing Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Jordan had urged his colleagues to back McCarthy as he nominated the California congressman for speaker. But Rep. Matt Gaetz stood up to nominate Jordan, calling him the “most talented, hardest working member of the Republican conference.”

The House vote was identical to the first round: McCarthy again won 203 votes compared to Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ 212 votes.

Jan 03, 2:45 PM EST
Jordan wins enough votes to deny McCarthy speakership in 2nd vote

Enough Republicans have already voted for Jordan to deny McCarthy the speakership in a second ballot.

Just after Jordan rose to renominate McCarthy before the start of the second round of voting, nine Republicans backed the Ohioan before vote counting even got halfway through the alphabet.

Jordan was able to flip a number of Republicans who opposed McCarthy on the first ballot but didn’t vote for him, including Biggs, who voted for himself during the initial round of voting.

Jan 03, 2:31 PM EST
Gaetz nominates Jordan after Jordan urges colleagues to back McCarthy

After Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio took to the floor to encourage Republicans to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker, Rep. Matt Gaetz got up to nominate Jordan for the position.

“I rise to nominate the most talented, hardest working member of the Republican conference, who just gave a speech with more vision than we have ever heard from the alternative,” the Florida congressman said.

“Jim Jordan is humble. Perhaps today, humble to a fault,” Gaetz continued. “Maybe the right person for the job of speaker of the House isn’t someone who wants it so bad. Maybe the right person for the job of speaker of the House isn’t someone who has sold shares of themselves for more than a decade to get it.”

In the first round of voting, Jordan received six votes.

Jan 03, 2:28 PM EST
Jim Jordan nominates McCarthy in 2nd round of voting

After receiving six votes of his own on the first ballot, Rep. Jim Jordan nominated Kevin McCarthy in the second round of voting for House speaker.

“I rise to nominate Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House,” Jordan said, prompting applause from several Republican members.

“We need to rally around him, come together, and deal with these three things, because this is what the people sent us here to do,” he added, ticking through Republican priorities in the new Congress.

“We owe it to them, the American people, the good people of this great country, to step forward to come together, get a speaker elected so we can address these three things. I hope you’ll vote for Kevin McCarthy and that’s why I’m proud to nominate him for speaker of the House,” Jordan said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Good, one of the original “Never Kevin” members, said off the House floor that he plans to vote for Jordan on the second ballot despite Jordan’s call to support McCarthy — and expects other detractors will follow.

-ABC News’ Will Steakin

Jan 03, 2:20 PM EST
‘Optics are terrible’: ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on GOP speaker battle

ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl weighed in after the first ballot vote for House speaker.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy fell well short of the majority needed to clinch the position. He received 203 votes, while Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries received 212. Nineteen lawmakers voted for someone else.

“The optics for Republicans is terrible,” Karl told ABC’s David Muir following the vote.

“They’ve taken control, they’ve won control of the House by a narrow majority, and [in the] first act of this Republican House, more votes went to the liberal Democrat candidate for speaker than went for Kevin McCarthy. Think about that David,” Karl said.

Jan 03, 2:13 PM EST
McCarthy to ABC News: Vote against him ‘exactly what we thought it’d be’

McCarthy told ABC News, after stepping off the House floor, that the current vote against him was “exactly what we thought it’d be.”

McCarthy added that this vote could go on for days and that “we got a number of members who are trying to fight for their own personal items” instead of for the country.

When asked how he what he can do to persuade the large number of members who voted against him by voting for others, McCarthy said he needs to convince them that “they don’t win gavels by trying to threaten or leverage somebody … I don’t think that’s what their constituents elected.”

-ABC News’ Will Steakin

Jan 03, 1:54 PM EST
McCarthy falls short in first speaker vote

After the first round of voting, no member obtained the 218 votes needed to become House speaker, but Democrat Hakeem Jeffries earned more votes than Kevin McCarthy — on the first day of a new Republican-controlled House.

Jeffries received 212 votes to McCarthy’s 203. Far-right Republican Andy Biggs of Arizona received 10 votes, and there were nine votes for others, including six for Rep. Jim Jordan, and, in a surprise move, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas voted for Florida’s Byron Donalds.

Nineteen Republicans broke from McCarthy, who could only afford to lose four, marking a stunning defeat by 15 votes. Despite having a majority this Congress, McCarthy got fewer votes this time than the last time he ran for speaker against Nancy Pelosi.

For the first time since 1923 — and the first time since floor proceedings have been televised — the speaker’s vote appears headed towards a second ballot.

While McCarthy has signaled he’s up for more voting rounds, he faces a steep hurdle in a second vote with so many lawmakers to win over — and the potential for Republicans to nominate another member, such as No. 2 Steve Scalise.

Jan 03, 1:37 PM EST
McCarthy gets quick standing ovation after voting for himself

After standing to cast a voice vote for himself, Kevin McCarthy smiled as he got a round of applause from his GOP supporters – even as it appeared that he would lose the first ballot for speaker.

McCarthy faced enough defections from his conference – with some voting for Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona or Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio – to likely not prevail in the first tally.

But the quick standing ovation for McCarthy was both indicative of the support he still has in the House Republican Conference and the challenges of a slim Republican House majority.

Jan 03, 1:41 PM EST
Appears McCarthy will not have votes on first ballot to be elected

The majority of House Republicans applauded when Rep. Elise Stefanik rose to nominate Kevin McCarthy — but more than a dozen, most of them sitting by the center aisle in the second to last row of the chamber, sat on their hands. The applause for McCarthy was hardly thunderous.

And with every vote against McCarthy, the sounds of murmuring in the chamber grew, as it also grew more obvious that McCarthy will not have the votes on the first ballot to be elected speaker.

In contrast, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., had a sustained standing ovation when he nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY. Once the applause died down, Aguilar declared, “Today, House Democrats are united” — prompting even louder and more sustained applause from Democrats — while McCarthy sat silently and stone-faced on the other side of the aisle.

As McCarthy entered the rear of the chamber through the center door about 15 minutes earlier, he did so quietly and with little fanfare. Most people on the floor seemed not to notice. He walked all the way down to the area in front of the clerk before somebody went to talk to him, and it was a staffer for Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

-ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl

Jan 03, 1:00 PM EST
Tense roll call vote begins

A tense roll call vote for speaker is beginning.

In alphabetical order, members are being asked to say aloud whom they are voting for as speaker.

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Jan 03, 12:53 PM EST
Aguilar declares Democrats ‘united’ behind Hakeem Jeffries

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., has nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to be the House minority leader.

Jeffries has made history as the first Black leader to be elected leader a congressional caucus. He was elected by Democrats in late November after Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced she was stepping down from the role.

“Today, madam clerk, House Democrats are united by a speaker who will people over politics,” Aguilar declared, an apparent dig at Republicans as the party struggles to unite behind a candidate for speaker.

“Hakeem Jeffries has worked his entire life to improve economic opportunity for all people. He’s committed to strengthening the American dream by lowering costs for working families, building safer communities by taking weapons of war off streets and by creating good-paying jobs in industries of the future.”

“He does not traffic in extremism,” Aguilar continued. “He does not grovel to or make excuses for a twice impeached so-called former president. Madam clerk, he does not bend a knee to everyone who would seek to undermine our democracy because, madam clerk, that’s not what leaders do.”

Jeffries and Pelosi greeted each other on the House floor on Tuesday morning.

Jan 03, 12:46 PM EST
Stefanik introduces McCarthy as GOP nominee for speaker

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., introduced Kevin McCarthy on the House floor as the GOP nominee for speaker.

Stefanik, a McCarthy ally, touted the Californian’s efforts to bolster House Republicans’ ranks by campaigning for diverse candidates from coast to coast.

“Since the day Kevin was elected as our leader, House Republicans have only gained seats and won,” she said. “Kevin knows what we stand for, he knows when to engage in the fight, and he knows how to build consensus.”

“His relentless effort has yielded an extraordinary House Republican majority,” she added. “Today’s House Republican Conference is the most diverse Republican conference in our nation’s history.”

And while her speech was mostly focused on building up McCarthy, Stefanik also offered a dig at his detractors, boasting that “Kevin McCarthy has earned this speakership of the ‘People’s House.'”

Jan 03, 12:44 PM EST
Magnetometers at House chamber entrances removed

Ahead of the vote for speaker, the magnetometers placed outside the doors of the House chamber in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have been removed, as the new GOP majority demanded.

The GOP’s new proposed House rules had called for removing the magnetometers.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Will Steakin and Nicole Moeder

Jan 03, 12:33 PM EST
VP Kamala Harris swears in new senators

As House Republicans enter the 118th Congress in disarray over who will hold the speaker’s gavel, the Democrat-controlled Senate opened with Vice President Kamala Harris swearing in new members and those who won reelection in November.

Among the new faces in the chamber are Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, Alabama’s Katie Britt and Missouri’s Eric Schmitt.

Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Georgia’s Raphael Warnock were sworn in for their first full, six-year terms.

Despite losing majority control in the House, Democrats expanded their advantage in the Senate by one seat.

Jan 03, 10:39 AM EST
McCarthy tells Republicans ‘I earned this job’: Source

In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy made a last-ditch case for speaker.

“I’m not going to go away. I’m going to stand until the last four friends stand with me,” he told the GOP members, according to a source in the room.

“I earned this job,” McCarthy said. “We earned this majority, and goddammit we are going to win it today.”

Jan 03, 10:33 AM EST
Rep.-elect George Santos arrives near House office

Rep.-elect George Santos, who has faced controversy and national attention for lying about or embellishing details of his background, was spotted by reporters in Congress Tuesday morning.

Santos was walking toward his office in the Longworth House Office Building, accompanied by a staffer, when he stopped and turned the other way once he saw reporters.

He declined to answer most questions, but told ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa he will vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker.

Santos faced calls for accountability from some Republicans, but not from current Republican House leadership. He has said he will serve out his term in the House.

New members of the House will not be sworn in until a speaker is elected.

-ABC News’ Hannah Demissie, Lalee Ibssa, and Oren Oppenheim

Jan 03, 10:20 AM EST
McCarthy ready to battle for speaker’s gavel, sources say

As Republicans met behind closed doors ahead of the speaker vote, it appeared Kevin McCarthy still did not have the votes needed to be elected.

Sources close to the Republican leader say he’s ready to battle it out. It could go into multiple rounds of votes — something that hasn’t happened in 100 years — and the floor fight could drag on for hours, if not days. The longest battle for speaker was in 1856, and it took two months and 133 votes to resolve.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, who opposes McCarthy’s bid, has warned, “We may see the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C. before a speaker is elected.”

All of this overshadows the start of the new Congress where Republicans have a majority in the House for the first time since 2018.

-ABC News’ Rachel Scott

Jan 03, 9:43 AM EST
McCarthy arrives for GOP meeting: ‘We are going to have a good day’

Rep. McCarthy has arrived for a closed-door meeting with his fellow Republicans.

“We are going to have a good day today,” McCarthy said as he walked by reporters, who asked if he had the votes for speaker.

The California congressman then laughed as a reporter asked if he’d support Rep. Steve Scalise for speaker should he fail to get enough votes.

Jan 03, 9:42 AM EST
‘Follow Kevin McCarthy’ sign posted outside speaker’s office

Hours before the vote to elect a new House speaker, a sign has appeared in front of the speaker’s office with the message: “Follow Kevin McCarthy.”

McCarthy was set to shore up more support for his speaker bid in a closed-door meeting with the Republican caucus this morning. He faces opposition from a group of hard-line conservatives, who could sink what is his second attempt to hold the gavel.

The California congressman’s belongings have been brought into the speaker’s suite, but if he doesn’t get enough votes, he’ll have to move out.

Jan 03, 8:52 AM EST
GOP conference to hold last-minute meeting before speaker vote

The House Republican conference will meet behind closed doors at 9:30 a.m., just hours before the speaker vote begins at noon.

While McCarthy might be able to garner more support in a last-ditch appeal, his detractors have boasted that they’ll be able to muster the necessary opposition to block his bid.

Rep. Scott Perry, the chair of the House Freedom Caucus who is leading the group of hard-line conservatives opposing McCarthy’s bid, released a new statement Tuesday morning blasting the California congressman.

“In his 14 years in Republican Leadership, McCarthy has repeatedly failed to demonstrate any desire to meaningfully change the status quo in Washington,” Perry said.

Jan 03, 8:36 AM EST
McCarthy’s rise from California politics to GOP leader

Kevin McCarthy began his career as a staffer to then-Rep. Bill Thomas before chairing the California Young Republicans and later the Young Republican National Federation.

He was first elected to office in 2002, serving in the California state Assembly until 2007, when was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, he was dubbed one of the “young guns” of the next generation of conservative leadership.

McCarthy tried to become speaker in 2015 but his chance evaporated after resistance from the same kind of conservatives who are trying to block his path Tuesday. When Democrats took control of the House in 2018, McCarthy was elected House minority leader.

Jan 03, 8:26 AM EST
McCarthy’s bid for speaker unclear as new Congress set to begin

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the next speaker of the House is still clouded in uncertainty as lawmakers head to Capitol Hill for the first day of the 118th Congress.

McCarthy and his staffers spent the day Monday setting up the speaker’s office but he may have to move his belongings out if he fails to clinch the votes needed to secure the position.

A few dozen members piled into McCarthy’s office throughout the day Monday to go over last-minute strategy. ABC News spotted three McCarthy critics during the afternoon meeting: Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and Scott Perry.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a McCarthy supporter, told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, “the problem is the people need to realize the art of the deal. They are all Trump supporters, and you can’t be successful if you’re not willing to take the wins when you get them” when asked about those in her party who are trying to tank McCarthy’s bid.

Rep. Jim Jordan, whose name has been floated around as a potential speaker candidate, said he believes McCarthy “can get there.”

McCarthy, however, didn’t directly answer reporter’s questions about how the vote could go, telling them, “I hope you all have a very nice New Year’s” as he exited the Capitol on Monday night.

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