WASHINGTON (KGET) — Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy was at the center of a historic day in American politics on Tuesday.
After months of turmoil over who will become the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin McCarthy fell short of the 218 votes needed. The House voted three times on Tuesday and it was the first time in over a century it has taken multiple ballots to elect a Speaker.
The political fight isn’t with Democrats this time, it’s with members of his own party. Those members are set on preventing him from taking the gavel.
Ahead of the vote, McCarthy was defiant saying he was ready to fight to the end.
“I have the record for the longest speech ever on the floor, I don’t have a problem getting a record for the most votes for Speaker too.”
The first vote on Tuesday was not expected to be smooth sailing for McCarthy. Five conservative House Republicans pledged to vote against McCarthy, but the opposition was larger than originally thought.
“I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals that want something for themselves,” McCarthy told reporters before any of the three votes. “So we may have a battle on the floor, but the battle is for the conference and the country, and that’s fine with me.”
On the first vote and second vote, 19 Republicans voted for a member other than McCarthy. Many voted for Andy Biggs — one of McCarthy’s most vocal critics — in the first vote.
On the second and third, Rep. Jim Jordan got votes preventing McCarthy from becoming the Speaker.
While the defectors are getting a lot of attention, a strong majority of the House Republican Conference is standing by McCarthy and saying they will stick with him as long as it takes. Neither side is giving in.
But it didn’t appear the anti-McCarthy voters in the House have an alternative nominee. Jim Jordan was thought to be a possibility, but has supported McCarthy’s bid for Speaker.
Rep. Steve Scalise was also thought to be an alternative but he nominated McCarthy on the third vote.
In 2015, McCarthy also sought the role of Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner but McCarthy stepped aside before a vote on the floor when it became clear he didn’t have the votes.
After the third vote, the House adjourned for the day and it will reconvene Wednesday at 9 a.m.