January 4, 2023 GOP deadlocked over House speaker vote

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:59 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023
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7:38 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Roy says members having a "good conversation" about speakership as McCarthy gives another concession

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Roy speaks during the fourth vote for Speaker on January 4.
Roy speaks during the fourth vote for Speaker on January 4. (Samuel Corum/Sipa USA/AP)

GOP Rep. Chip Roy said Thursday evening a group of Republicans are having a “good conversation” about the speakership after House Republicans failed to elect a new leader after six rounds of votes.

“We’re having a good conversation in there,” Roy told reporters after emerging from the room where a group of GOP members are negotiating. Roy is one of the Republicans who did not vote for McCarthy in the last few votes.

“Stay tuned because these conversations continue,” Roy said. 

The GOP meeting also included Reps. Scott Perry, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Anna Paulina Luna, Byron Donalds, Jim Jordan and Thomas Massie.

Another concession by McCarthy: A McCarthy-aligned PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), has agreed to not spend money in open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.

"CLF has never spent a dollar against a Republican incumbent before and obviously will continue that policy in the future," a statement from CLF President Dan Conston said. In exchange, a conservative organization, Club for Growth, is now backing McCarthy for speaker.

“This agreement on super PAC’s fulfills a major concern we have pressed for. We understand that Leader McCarthy and Members are working on a rules agreement that will meet the principles we have set out previously. Assuming these principles are met, Club for Growth will support Kevin McCarthy for Speaker," Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement.

Not having the McCarthy-aligned PAC play in open-seat primaries is something that had been an ask of Roy and other conservatives.

7:13 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

McCarthy has no more margin for error, allies believe

From CNN's Manu Raju

McCarthy speaks with members of the media as he departs the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 4.
McCarthy speaks with members of the media as he departs the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 4. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has no more margin for error with the expectation that four Republicans — Andy Biggs, Chip Roy, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert — are almost certainly immovable in their opposition.

That means he has to somehow convince the rest of the bloc of 20 to change their votes to either “present,” which would lower the voting threshold, or to vote for him.

GOP sources familiar with the matter still believe they are making progress but don’t think McCarthy will get a deal locked in before the 8 p.m. ET vote.

6:47 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

"He's a desperate guy." Gaetz and Boebert meet with McCarthy but remain firmly opposed to him

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Boebert and Gaetz talk with colleagues in the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 5.
Boebert and Gaetz talk with colleagues in the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 5. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert, who voted against Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker on all six ballots, emerged Wednesday evening from a meeting with the GOP House leader and some of his top allies showing no indication they have changed their minds.

“He’s a desperate guy whose vote share is dropping with every subsequent vote and I’m ready to vote all night, all week, all month, and never for that person,” Gaetz said of McCarthy. 

Boebert said the “boats are burned” when it comes to any future negotiations with McCarthy. She said at this point “we need to get to a person that is a consensus candidate. And these folks need to realize that there is life after Kevin and they have to figure out how to get there.”

In addition to Gaetz and Boebert, Bob Good and Andy Biggs have told CNN’s Manu Raju that they are both hard No’s against McCarthy. 

None of this bodes well for McCarthy.

Gaetz said he is even more frustrated with McCarthy than before because in the meeting tonight, he said McCarthy apologized to him about misrepresenting their conversations but would not make that apology public when Gaetz asked.

“Mr. McCarthy asked those of us who were not intending to vote for him to provide him a list of our members who might be willing to serve on relevant committees,” Gaetz said. “And so we then endeavor to create that list to provide it to Mr. McCarthy. And then he ran around telling all y'all and members of his team that we were out there negotiating for personal favors, for ourselves. So, it was a bad faith effort for McCarthy to solicit a list and then use that list in some way to try to divide our conference.”
6:32 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Who is the hard-right’s new nominee for speaker?

From CNN's Jack Forrest

Rep. Byron Donalds speaks to the media during the second day of elections for Speaker of the House outside the US Capitol on Wednesday.
Rep. Byron Donalds speaks to the media during the second day of elections for Speaker of the House outside the US Capitol on Wednesday. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The far-right of the House Republican Party nominated Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida for speaker as the floor fight over the gavel continued Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who nominated Donalds, got two standing ovations from both sides of the aisle, including from GOP leader Kevin McCarthy when he said, “For the first time in history there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House.”

“We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” he added, quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream,” speech to a second standing ovation.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from New York, whom Democrats have nominated for speaker across all six ballots, is expected to become the first Black leader of any major party when the dust settles on the House floor fight for speaker.

So far, Donalds has collected 20 votes each in the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots for speaker, blocking McCarthy’s path to victory. The House adjourned until 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Donalds voted for McCarthy on the first two ballots but broke from the majority of his colleagues to vote for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on the third ballot with conservative hardliners.

“Right now, he doesn’t have a pathway to get there,” Donalds told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins after voting against McCarthy Tuesday. “If that reemerges, yeah, I can be there, that’s fine, but what’s necessary now is that Republicans come together and find a way to elect a speaker.”

Donalds is serving his second term, winning his first election in 2020 after GOP Rep. Francis Rooney vacated Florida’s 19th Congressional District seat and his second in 2022 in a landslide victory.

During his first campaign, Donalds described himself in a political ad as a “Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect Black man.”

Read more about Donalds here

7:34 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Talks ongoing with McCarthy, but it's unclear what will happen at 8 p.m.

From CNN's Capitol Hill team

Rep. Kevin McCarthy is engaged in closed-door talks with the group from both sides. Discussions have hit the hour mark now. 

It’s unclear what will happen at 8 p.m. ET — whether it will be a motion to adjourn the House (which will need 218 votes) or if they will move ahead with the seventh ballot. 

Democrats are non-committal about helping Republicans out of their dilemma and agreeing to adjourn the House for the night.

5:30 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Pelosi says she was told no swearing-in members without a speaker

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was told today there could not be ceremonial swearing-ins without a speaker. 

This morning Pelosi had advocated for some sort of swearing-in as family members and others are in Washington for the first day of the new Congress. 

“We had to have a speaker in order to do that,” Pelosi said, “we pursued that, they said you have to have an absolute speaker.”

9:52 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

McCarthy says he's sitting down to talk to others –but he remains confident he'll get to 218 votes

From CNN's Jessica Dean and Manu Raju

Rep. Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters as he walks to his office after the House adjourned until later this evening.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters as he walks to his office after the House adjourned until later this evening. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Leaving the floor after his sixth failed bid to become speaker, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told CNN he and others would now sit down and talk.  

Asked if he would get to 218 votes at 8 p.m. ET when the House reconvenes, he said, “ We will get to 218, we’ll solve our problems and we will all work together.”

Asked why he remains confident, McCarthy said:

“You see the number of votes. We have 90% of the votes. I’ve never seen a body where 10% is going to control the 90%. It just doesn’t happen.” 

Still, the minority of votes against him have so far foiled his path to the gavel.

5:14 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Group of Republicans meeting in Emmer’s office right now

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Kit Maher

A group of Republicans are meeting in Rep. Tom Emmer’s office following Kevin McCarthy’s failure to clinch speaker for the sixth time.

The group includes Rep. Scott Perry, Rep. Chip Roy, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Rep. Byron Donalds, Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Thomas Massie.

It’s possible others were already inside when CNN arrived at the door. 

“Of course, we’re going to get to 218. We just gotta find the right person,” Roy said as he walked into Emmer’s office moments ago. 

Perry said the purpose of the meeting was to “hear what’s being offered” and Gaetz pledged that the McCarthy dissenters could continue to hold votes “until the cherry blossoms fall off the trees.” 

Luna just left the office and shortly after Emmer walked in.

4:59 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

6 votes and still no speaker: Catch up on what has happened in the House so far today

From CNN staff

The House is still in a holding pattern after lawmakers failed to elect a new speaker for the second day. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has failed to get a majority of the vote after six ballots. 

Right now, the chamber is adjourned until 8 p.m. ET.

Some lawmakers are warning that the longer the process drags on, the more votes McCarthy will lose. McCarthy’s allies have been negotiating on the House floor in between votes to try to garner more support.

This is how the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of voting played out:

  • 212 for Jeffries
  • 201 for McCarthy
  • 20 for Donalds
  • 1 present vote

Here's what else to know:

  • McCarthy’s roadblock: Twenty Republican lawmakers, despite obtaining most of their demands from McCarthy, simply will not support him. The first two votes started with 19 holdouts but grew to 20 in the third vote Tuesday. In the fourth, fifth and sixth votes Wednesday, those lawmakers all voted for Rep. Byron Donalds who was nominated by the opposition.
  • Warnings: Some of McCarthy’s allies may not be there with him if this drags out. While he has firm support from most of the conference, some are not committed to sticking with him. In the fifth round of voting, while nominating Donalds, Rep. Lauren Boebert called for McCarthy to drop out, saying, “Sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw.” Other lawmakers, like Rep. Ken Buck, said McCarthy will need to “cut a deal” or give others a chance to see if they can get more votes.
  • Lower majority threshold: During the three rounds of voting Wednesday, GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz voted present, meaning she abstained from voting. This dropped the majority threshold McCarthy needed to 217 — but her vote is not a good sign. Spartz backed McCarthy in previous rounds of voting that took place on Tuesday.
  • The scene in between votes: McCarthy's allies have been seen trying to negotiate with some of the 20 GOP lawmakers who oppose McCarthy. These conversations on the floor show how Republicans are grasping to make deals and get unified behind a speaker. GOP Rep. Chip Roy told CNN these talks have been “productive.”
  • Negotiations moving forward: Republicans are considering appointing four members from the pro- and anti-McCarthy camps to negotiate a path forward on choosing a House speaker, one GOP source tells CNN. 
  • The other side of the aisle: Democrats have stayed unified behind party leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Meantime, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration is “going to let the process play out” as Republicans continue to debate over who will serve as House speaker. Biden did call the ongoing standoff “embarrassing” for the country.
  • A historic floor fight: This is the first time in 100 years that a speaker wasn’t elected on the first ballot. It took nine ballots for Rep. Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts to be elected speaker in 1923. In 1849, the House had been in session so long without being able to elect a speaker – 19 days – that members voted to elect their speaker with a plurality rather than a majority. Members ultimately confirmed the plurality election with a majority vote.
  • The consequences: Every new Congress must pass a new set of House rules, so without a speaker to oversee the adoption of those rules, none will technically exist. Without an approved House rules package by the end of business on Jan. 13, committees won't be able to pay staff, according to a letter sent last week by the committee in charge of administrative matters, which was first reported by Politico and obtained by CNN.