By the 13th round of votes for House Speaker on Friday, 15 of the 20 Republican members of Congress who had before withheld their support for frontrunner Kevin McCarthy changed their position.
Though McCarthy did not ultimately have the majority of votes needed to become Speaker, the Friday votes are the most progress he has made since votes began on Tuesday. The dramatic week marks the first time in nearly a century that the House has failed to elect a Speaker on the first round of votes.
The 15 who switched included a mix of some of the most anti-McCarthy members, as well as others who have wavered in their support since voting began on Monday—Victoria Spartz, a Republican from Indiana, for example, essentially opted out of voting during the last eight rounds, but voted for McCarthy during the 12th round. Andy Harris, a Republican from Maryland, voted for an alternative candidate in the 12th round of voting, but then backed McCarthy during the 13th round.
Six Republican holdouts remain, and McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes in his quest for the top spot in the Republican conference if all members vote for a candidate. If at least five of those lawmakers remain steadfast in voting against McCarthy, it could keep the House in limbo, unable to operate without a Speaker.
Here’s what to know about the members who have switched their support.
The vote changes
Among the 15 members-elect who voted for McCarthy on Friday but hadn’t the day before were Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, Ralph Norman, a South Carolina Republican, and Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican—each of whom had so far been adamantly opposed to McCarthy’s leadership.
Perry, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, the hardline conservative group leading the charge against McCarthy, on Wednesday nominated a different candidate for Speaker. By Friday, he voted for McCarthy.
“We’re at a turning point. I’ve negotiated in good faith, with one purpose: to restore the People’s House back to its rightful owners,” Perry said on Twitter. “The framework for an agreement is in place, so in a good-faith effort, I voted to restore the People’s House by voting for… McCarthy.”
Florida Republican Byron Donalds also voted for McCarthy on Friday, even though he was nominated for House Speaker himself on Tuesday and garnered 20 votes from the anti-McCarthy outliers.
The other Republicans who changed their votes to back McCarthy on Friday are: Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma, Michael Cloud of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mary Miller of Illinois, Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Keith Self of Texas, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Harris of Maryland, and Spartz of Indiana.
The remaining holdouts
Six Republican representatives-elect, most of whom say they see McCarthy as too moderate, threw their support behind one of two other GOP nominees on Friday.
Lauren Boebert, an outspoken McCarthy critic from Colorado, nominated Kevin Hern of Oklahoma. Another Freedom Caucus member, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, nominated Jim Jordan of Ohio, who despite being the founder of the Freedom Caucus had pleaded for his voters to support McCarthy during the second round of voting on Tuesday.
Virginia’s Bob Good, who denied the results of the 2020 election and received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, told reporters on Thursday that he was also “absolutely a no.”
“You don’t ever have to ask me again if I’m a no,” Good added. “I will never vote for Kevin McCarthy.”
The other three Representatives-elect who voted against McCarthy in the 13th round of voting were Andy Biggs and Eli Crane of Arizona, and Matt Rosendale of Montana.
What happens next?
The House will continue to vote on Friday. A Speaker cannot be named until they win a majority of votes, and McCarthy has said he will continue to negotiate with the most hardline Republicans in the conference until that happens.
If every House member votes for a candidate, McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republicans overall. Alternatively, if enough members don’t vote or only mark themselves as present, then McCarthy could become Speaker as long as he gets more votes than the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
McCarthy has already offered several concessions to the holdouts that stand to reshape Congress, including giving members the power to call for a vote to oust the speaker at any time, and giving some of the most hardline Republican members seats on influential committees and subcommittees.
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