Representative Kevin McCarthy of California lost his 11th bid for the House speakership yesterday, even after offering fresh concessions to a hard-right band of Republican rebels in a desperate effort to lock down their votes. There was no clear sign of when the impasse would end, leaving the chamber deadlocked for a third day.
McCarthy has agreed to key demands from the right-wing dissidents that would vastly weaken the power of the speakership and could make the House ungovernable, including allowing a single lawmaker to force a snap vote to oust the speaker. But no votes had moved by nightfall, and it is unclear whether he can pick up enough converts to prevail.
Until a speaker is chosen, the House is essentially paralyzed. It cannot pass laws or even swear in its members. Republicans’ thin majority in the chamber, with 222 seats, means that almost all of the party’s members must agree on a speaker. The winner needs 218 votes. McCarthy drew at most 203 votes and has slipped since then, to 200 yesterday.
Far-right Republicans have lined up by turns behind candidates including, on Tuesday, Jim Jordan, who voted for McCarthy; and, on Wednesday and Thursday, Byron Donalds, the party’s first Black nominee for speaker. The lawmakers do not expect their candidates to win but wish to register their displeasure.