What you need to know
- The House adjourned Wednesday after it failed to elect a speaker for the second day in a row as hard-liners in the Republican caucus continued their refusal to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for the job.
- On a fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of voting earlier in the day, McCarthy came up short of 218 votes, the number he most likely needs to secure the job.
- The House held three votes Tuesday that deadlocked.
- Democrats have continued to vote unanimously for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
- The last time a speaker election went to multiple ballots was in 1923.
McCarthy says discussions are 'going well and continuing'
After the House adjourned for a second day without a speaker, McCarthy said Republicans continue to talk about finding a way forward.
McCarthy told reporters that having enough Republicans coalesce around adjourning for the night signaled "the discussions are going well and continuing, but that doesn’t mean they’re done.”
Asked about his plans for when the House reconvenes at noon Thursday, McCarthy said: "We just keep talking, that’s all. We talk until we get this done."
McCarthy argued that repeated roll call votes — six in total over two days for the speakership — weren't productive and that lawmakers preferred to spend more time discussing than voting on the floor.
“I don’t think having continual votes is productive," he said. "We’ve gone through that. People know where everybody’s at. You see the votes don’t really change at all."
Anti-McCarthy lawmaker says, 'I've just lost a lot of trust'
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., who has opposed McCarthy, said after the vote to adjourn that progress may be made but that he’s still opposed to McCarthy.
“Well, I guess we’re going to find out tomorrow. There were some more meetings that took place tonight that I wasn’t a part of, and I guess we’ll find out.”
Asked whether he was open to voting for McCarthy, Rosendale said, “Well, I’ve just lost a lot of trust.”
These are the 4 Republicans who voted against the motion to adjourn
Four Republicans voted with Democrats against the motion to adjourn proceedings until Thursday.
They included some of McCarthy's biggest critics: Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona. Rep.-elect Eli Crane, a freshman from Arizona, also joined the group.
House votes to adjourn for second day without agreeing on a speaker
The House voted to adjourn for the day on Wednesday evening, the second day in a row lawmakers left without selecting a speaker.
After six votes over two days, the House remains deadlocked as McCarthy’s bid to lead the chamber continues to falter.
The House is voting to adjourn until tomorrow
McCarthy’s allies are pushing to break for the day and vote again on the speaker tomorrow. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., raised a motion to adjourn, and the House is now voting on it.
Democrats are encouraging their members to vote against the motion, trying to force Republicans to continue voting in the speaker's race today. That means McCarthy's allies will need the support of 218 Republicans to successfully delay.
House session resumes
At 8 p.m., the House returned to session.
House Democrats advised to oppose letting Republicans adjourn
House Democrats have been given a formal notice to oppose a Republican effort to adjourn the chamber tonight without taking another vote for speaker.
McCarthy told reporters that he doesn't want to take additional votes Wednesday while negotiations continue.
McCarthy says he doesn't want more votes tonight as talks continue
Shortly before the House was set to reconvene at 8 p.m., McCarthy told reporters that he didn't think it would be productive to hold more votes Wednesday.
"I think it’s probably best to let people work through some more," he said as House members continued to negotiate the future of Republican leadership. "I don't think a vote tonight does any different, but a vote in the future will."
McCarthy allies agree to stay out of some GOP primaries in exchange for conservative group's support in speaker's race
A key Republican super PAC aligned with McCarthy has agreed not to pick sides in some competitive House GOP primary races as part of a deal to secure McCarthy the support of an influential conservative group heading into the next vote for speaker.
The McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund and the conservative Club for Growth confirmed the deal Wednesday evening — CLF won't spend money in "any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts" or give money for its allies to do so, CLF President Dan Conston said in a statement. He added that the group will still back incumbents and spend in races that "affect the Majority."
That last caveat makes the promise a bit unclear, as some races in deep red districts have the potential to become competitive depending on who wins the GOP primary. But the deal will be a relief to some conservatives who have bristled at McCarthy's allies' trying to help preferred candidates through GOP primaries in safe Republican districts, where those primaries effectively decide who will come to Congress.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh celebrated the deal in a statement, saying it "fulfills a major concern." He added that "assuming these principles are met, Club for Growth will support Kevin McCarthy for Speaker.”
House Republicans warn speaker's race is starting to affect national security planning on Capitol Hill
Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and other House Republicans who work on military and intelligence matters said the protracted speaker's race is starting to affect national security planning, because some security clearances are contingent on lawmakers' being sworn in.
Gallagher and other members of the House Republican caucus who are military veterans — and firmly in McCarthy’s camp in his bid for speaker — said at a news conference Wednesday that they would usually use the sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, to receive daily briefs about threats around the world but that they no longer have access. Gallagher also said the drawn-out election for speaker has prevented him from meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the facility.
“I’m informed by House Security that, technically, I don’t have a clearance," Gallagher said. "I’m a member of the Intel Committee, I’m on the Armed Services Committee, and I can’t meet in the SCIF to conduct essential business.”
Rep.-elect Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., said: "We’re trying to make sure that we can do the people’s will, and a minority of our party has decided that they want to continue with this obstructionism. And it’s actually becoming detrimental to our nation."
The prolonged speaker's vote also means that the “gang of eight,” of a bipartisan group of four House members and four senators involved in top national security matters, is now limited to the four senators: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y.; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
McCarthy opponents say no deal yet as meeting continues
McCarthy is meeting behind closed doors in the Capitol with some of his closest allies and members of the opposition to try to hammer out an agreement.
Members are coming and going from the huddle, and despite hours of discussions, the two sides appear no closer to a deal.
“I’m just saying we listened. You know the devil’s in the details,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., a vocal McCarthy critic, said as he left the meeting.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, another McCarthy opponent, said he is “open to whatever will give me the power to defend my constituents against this godforsaken city.” Among other things, Roy pointed to Congress’ last-minute passage of a $1.7 trillion spending bill last month that avoided a government shutdown. “That bill is just exactly what is wrong with this place.”
Roy said a big focus of the meeting is working through some “misunderstandings” between the two sides.
McCarthy allies and opponents meet behind closed doors
McCarthy's allies and opponents are huddling together behind closed doors ahead of another vote expected later Wednesday night.
On the pro-McCarthy side, NBC News has spotted Reps. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Jason Smith of Missouri. On the anti-McCarthy side, Reps. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Chip Roy of Texas and Matt Gaetz of Florida entered the meeting room, the Capitol office of Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnestoa.
McHenry sounded a positive note, telling reporters when he emerged, “It’s too early to tell, but the tone of the conversation is good, and that is a very healthy thing.”
“I mean, the goal here is to get a Republican elected with Republican votes,” he added.
Asked whether there’d been any progress in the meeting, Luna, who has repeatedly voted against McCarthy, told reporters, “We’ll find out.”
Gaetz, meanwhile, said he wants McCarthy to drop his speaker bid.
The House is scheduled to go back in session at 8 p.m. ET.
McCarthy backer says speaker vote a fight long in the making
After six failed attempts to install McCarthy as speaker of the House, a majority of Republicans continue to stand by his nomination even as more than a dozen members of their own party backed Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., instead.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., a McCarthy supporter, says now is the time to have a decadeslong debate within the Republican Party “out in the open” as frustrations broil with fellow members of his party who he says are delaying the start to the legislative agenda.
“A lot of those guys have never served in a legislative body before,” Comer, who would likely chair the House Oversight Committee in the new Congress, said in an interview on “Meet the Press NOW.” “They’ve never been in the majority. So they don’t understand that no one’s ever going to get 100% of what you want. You just have to make your best case and fight for the best deal you can get.”
McCarthy says he's aiming to 'work through it, get everybody together' after losing sixth ballot
McCarthy appeared optimistic Wednesday afternoon about his ability to win the speaker's gavel, telling reporters that his strategy is to "work through it, get everybody together and solve our problems."
Asked whether he was confident he could reach the votes needed after having fallen short six times, McCarthy responded: "Yeah, very."
"We have 90% of the votes," McCarthy added. "I’ve never seen a body where 10% is going to control the 90%. It just doesn’t happen that way."
Twenty of McCarthy's conservative colleagues opposed him for the speakership in three consecutive votes Wednesday, backing GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida each time.
State Department reacts to struggle to elect House speaker
State Department spokesman Ned Price reacted Wednesday to the House GOP's repeated failure to elect a speaker.
"Our message has never been that democracy is neat or that democracy is seamless. They are seeing our institutions at work," Price said at the State Department news briefing.
Price said that the world is seeing democracy at work on Capitol Hill and that it "isn't always without its complications."
House adjourns until 8 p.m. with no end in sight for speaker election
The House adjourned Wednesday evening after having spent a second consecutive day holding votes on multiple ballots for House speaker. Members are set to return at 8 p.m.
McCarthy has so far failed to reach the necessary threshold to become speaker in six ballots over Tuesday and Wednesday.
After three more votes, song remains the same for McCarthy
The third speaker vote of the day ended the same way for McCarthy — with 20 Republicans voting for Donalds and another voting "present."
McCarthy gained no ground in his bid for the top House job throughout the day, despite negotiations by his allies Tuesday night and into the day Wednesday, as well a rallying social media post in the morning by his top ally, former President Donald Trump.
In all, McCarthy had the same number of votes in all three ballots and one less than he did at the end of Tuesday, thanks to Rep. Victoria Spartz's deciding to vote "present."
Kinzinger slams former GOP colleagues after Texas Rep. Crenshaw calls them 'clowns'
Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., criticized his former GOP colleagues Wednesday, tweeting, "The world can now see what we had to deal with for years."
Kinzinger, who chose not to seek re-election last year after having gained prominence as a top GOP Trump critic, was responding to comments made by Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
"These f------ people ... now they're just being clowns," said Crenshaw, a McCarthy ally, according to freelance journalist Matt Laslo.
‘This is our fight’: GOP rebels block Kevin McCarthy in defiance of Trump
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., doesn’t care that former President Donald Trump backs Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.
“Endorsements don’t matter to me,” said Norman, one of 20 Republican holdouts who have blocked McCarthy, R-Calif., from winning the majority he needs on a series of deadlocked votes for House speaker. “This is our fight here.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., another anti-McCarthy voter, took umbrage at Trump’s calling recalcitrants on behalf of the beleaguered House GOP leader.
“Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us — even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off,” Boebert said on the House floor Wednesday. “I think it actually needs to be reversed; the president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw.”
Cammack accuses Dems of drinking alcohol, enjoying popcorn on House floor, drawing heavy boos
During a speech by Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., to nominate McCarthy on the sixth ballot for speaker, she accused Democrats of drinking alcohol on the House floor and bingeing on popcorn.
"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 is coming over there," Cammack said.
Democrats immediately objected on the other side of the chamber — asking that her words be "taken down," or stricken from the record.
"The House is not in order," Cammack responded while laughing.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., eventually responded on Twitter: “If only! If Dems took a shot every time McCarthy lost a Republican, we’d all be unconscious by now.”
Because the House has not yet selected a speaker, it has not been able to approve rules — which would otherwise prohibit eating and drinking on the floor. Without rules, there is also no procedure to have a member's words taken down.
Rep. Norman says repeated vote rounds are 'good for democracy'
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., told reporters Wednesday that the repeated rounds of votes for the speakership were “good for democracy." Norman joined 19 other Republican lawmakers on Wednesday in opposing McCarthy's nomination, ensuring the voting continued.
During a fifth round of votes, Norman backed GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.
"The sun came up, the sky is still here, people are going to work, airplanes are taking off — this is a good thing for democracy," Norman said. "I don’t care who endorses McCarthy. Us 20 want changes. And we’re gonna stay here until we get it or something happens. Miracles happen. Could McCarthy all of a sudden morph into a fiscal conservative? We'll see."
No chance of bipartisan speaker, GOP congressman says
Despite Republicans’ inability to elect a speaker so far, GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is throwing cold water on the idea of a bipartisan speaker.
“That’s really off the table. I don’t think anybody voted to do that. I don’t think that works very well in any time. I think it’s particularly unsuited to these times. The polarization is too great,” Cole said.
Moderate GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska had previously said that if the Republican Conference can’t agree on electing McCarthy or any other Republican as speaker on the House floor, he would be willing to work with Democrats to elect a moderate Republican.
“I will support Kevin McCarthy, but if we do get to that point, I do want the country to work and we need to govern,” Bacon said in an interview in November.
‘It’s Groundhog Day, again’: Rep. Kat Cammack nominates McCarthy for sixth ballot
In nominating McCarthy on the sixth ballot to be speaker, Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., began her speech saying, "Well, it's Groundhog Day again."
"We don’t have a speaker yet. So the American people know they are our boss, and we work for them," Cammack said.
"As we’ve witnessed from events yesterday, so many people have said: 'What are the next steps? What will we accomplish if we continue down this current path?'" she continued. "Will we wake up tomorrow and be in this exact same place? The people calling my office said over and over and over again: It is time to get to work. Anything less is unacceptable."
House heads into sixth round of voting for speaker
After the fifth round failed to produce a speaker, the House is now headed into the sixth ballot.
Which Republicans broke with McCarthy in the fifth speaker vote?
Déjà vu all over again for McCarthy after fifth round of votes
McCarthy lost his fifth bid for the speakership by the same amount he lost the fourth, showing no momentum toward reaching the simple majority of votes needed.
Twenty Republicans voted for Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida for a second time Wednesday. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, who voted for McCarthy on Tuesday, voted "present" for a second time, as well.
In the first two rounds Tuesday, 19 Republicans voted for other candidates, a number that increased to 20 by the end of the day Tuesday.
Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, meanwhile, suggested he might be prepared to move on from McCarthy, as well.
Hard-line conservative group urges Republicans to dump McCarthy
A hard-line conservative group that includes Trump allies like Ginni Thomas, Cleta Mitchell and Jim DeMint is bucking the former president and urging House Republicans to kill McCarthy's leadership hopes.
Those signing Wednesday's statement include Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Mitchell, a former Trump lawyer; and DeMint, a former lawmaker who is the head of the Heritage Foundation.
Rep. Buck said he told McCarthy to either cut deals or give up
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a McCarthy supporter who's also a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, didn't vote when his name was first called on the fifth-ballot vote.
"I said to Kevin at some point you’ve got to make sure you got to either cut deals or you’ve got to give Steve [Scalise] a chance or others a chance to see if they can put it together," Buck said.
He said he’s hearing from both pro- and anti-McCarthy factions in his district. "I’m hearing a lot from both sides, and I agree with both sides."
Rep. Victoria Spartz explains why she voted present during fourth ballot vote
Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., explained in a statement that she decided to vote present during the fourth ballot, saying she wants the GOP conference to deliberate further behind closed doors.
"We have a constitutional duty to elect the Speaker of the House, but we have to deliberate further as a Republican conference until we have enough votes and stop wasting everyone’s time," she said. "None of the Republican candidates have this number yet. That’s why I voted present after all votes were cast."
Boebert calls out Trump, says former president should tell McCarthy to drop out
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., called on McCarthy to withdraw from the race and criticized what she described as the “campaign smears and tactics” to get people to turn against her group. She also rebuked former President Donald Trump as “having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off.”
"I think it actually needs to be reversed," she added. "The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw."
McCarthy falls short, again, on the fifth ballot
Once again, McCarthy failed to get enough votes when more than six Republicans voted for a different speaker.
McCarthy, Donalds and Jeffries nominated in Round 5
After Rep. Davidson nominated McCarthy on the fifth ballot for speaker, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., nominated Jeffries again.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., then nominated Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla.
"He’s a man who understands what tough times look like and has come out of those tough times, even stronger," said Boebert. "Byron Donalds is the man to lead us to that path of getting America on track and uniting the Republican Party."
Graphic: the Republicans hold-outs in the fourth vote
Fifth round of votes for speaker begins
A fifth round of votes to elect a new House speaker has begun after the previous vote on Wednesday again resulted in none of the candidates receiving a clear majority.
Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson kicked off the fifth ballot by nominating McCarthy.
How many votes does the House speaker need to win? It depends
McCarthy has spent the past two months being asked about one number: 218.
That's because 218 is the simple majority of the House when all 435 members are present. And a person needs a simple majority to get elected speaker.
But the math for McCarthy is actually more complicated.
There are only 434 House members in Washington, that's because one Democrat has died since Election Day, creating a vacancy. One vacancy still requires 218 votes for a simple majority.
But McCarthy and his allies say that should a member vote "present" that lowers the number of members considered "present and voting" and therefore shrinks the size of the simple majority.
On the fourth ballot, Rep. Spartz did just that. If she continues voting present, a speaker may only need 217 votes to win. McCarthy was still short and because Spartz had previously been voting for him, he actually lost a vote. But McCarthy and his allies believe that if they can get enough of his detractors to switch to "present" instead of voting for someone else, he will be able to win with a smaller simple majority.
One problem? So far, Democratic Leader Jeffries has more votes than McCarthy — so if the threshold kept falling, it could elect the Democrat speaker instead.
Biden appears with McConnell in Kentucky to showcase bipartisanship amid House uncertainty
While the House remained deadlocked, President Joe Biden teamed up with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky to tout one of his major bipartisan legislative wins.
Biden appeared with McConnell and other Democratic and Republican regional leaders to announce a major project funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by the president in late 2021. The president said the project shows what can happen when lawmakers work together.
"After years of politics being so divisive, there are bright spots across the country," Biden said.
The appearance comes as administration officials see 2023 as a year to focus on implementing Biden’s signature economic initiatives, including steps to boost semiconductor manufacturing under the CHIPS Act, and new cost-cutting measures from the Inflation Reduction Act.
McCarthy loses another supporter as fourth vote concludes
McCarthy lost his fourth bid for the speakership, falling well short of the 218 votes he needs for the post and no closer than he came on Tuesday.
The California congressman saw 20 of his fellow Republicans vote for Rep. Byron Donalds — the same number of GOP votes garnered by Jim Jordan in the third round of voting on Tuesday. He also lost one congressperson who voted for him on Tuesday — Rep. Victoria Spartz, who changed her vote to "present" on Wednesday.
In the first two rounds Tuesday, 19 Republicans voted for other candidates.
The lack of movement came despite negotiations Tuesday night and an early morning social media post from former President Donald Trump urging Republicans to back McCarthy.
House Dem leadership advises members they may need to remain in D.C. through the weekend
A House Democratic staffer, Aaron Fritschner, confirmed on Twitter Wednesday that Democratic leadership is advising members they may need to remain in Washington through the weekend if Republicans can't settle on a speaker.
Fritschner is the deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.
McCarthy insists everything is 'fine', says 'I still have the most votes'
After huddling with his leadership team in his office, McCarthy emerged on his way to the House floor Wednesday telling reporters that while they would not hold a vote to adjourn, he thinks it would be the "best thing" to do.
McCarthy said he thinks it would be best to sit in a room and "talk through this" instead of continuing with more ballot votes on the floor.
"They’ll go through a new person, they’ll nominate Byron [Donalds] — we need to sit in a room, negotiate," he said. "I know a number of us have been talking to one another, and I think we can find an agreement today."
Despite party infighting, McCarthy said everything is "fine."
"I still have the most votes," he said of other Republican candidates. "We can go through every name in the conference but at the end of the day they won’t be able to get 218."
Five Republicans break from McCarthy, likely deadlocking the fourth ballot
McCarthy is poised to fail for a fourth time in his bid to be elected House speaker, after more than five Republicans refused to support him.
A cohort of conservatives have banded together to deny McCarthy the votes he needs to reach a simple majority of the chamber. Democrats have remained united in opposition.
Chip Roy nominates Florida Rep. Byron Donalds for speaker
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, nominated Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., for speaker. Donalds switched his vote from McCarthy to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on the third round of votes on Tuesday.
Roy praised Donalds for being a “solid conservative” and “family man.”
Roy then noted that it’s the first time in history that two Black Americans (Donalds and Jeffries) have been nominated for speaker, which drew a standing ovation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but by their character,” Roy said.
“This country needs a change, needs leadership that does not reflect this city, this town that is badly broken,” he added.
Rep. Mike Gallagher nominates McCarthy for speaker
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., nominated McCarthy for House speaker soon after the chamber convened, arguing that the California Republican has "gone above and beyond" in laying out a GOP agenda.
It was the fourth time McCarthy has been nominated.
"Sure, it looks messy," said Gallagher at the beginning of his nominating speech, which prompted laughter from Democrats. "But democracy is messy by design."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., interrupted his colleague and shouted, "Gallagher for speaker!" Gallagher responded, "Definitely out of order."
Gallagher said he believes no one has done more than McCarthy to bring the GOP into the majority.
"So you might tweet out some more popcorn emojis, I get it. You might write your headlines. But what I see right now is energy, a tremendous amount of energy in this Republican caucus who want to do the work of the people," the Wisconsin Republican said. "Mr. McCarthy is not asking you to endorse business as usual in the house. He’s laid out a plan to renew the House of Representatives and once again make it an institution that we can credibly look ourselves in the mirror and say, we are working in the people’s house."
House begins process to conduct fourth speaker vote
The House has convened and begun the process of conducting a fourth vote for speaker.
House Dems plan to whip if GOP motions to adjourn
House Democrats plan to whip against if Republicans move to adjourn until tomorrow, according to a whip notice sent to all Democrats.
House Republicans could attempt to make the motion after the chamber reconvenes Wednesday at noon, multiple sources familiar with the negotiations confirmed to NBC News. Such a move would allow McCarthy and his allies to buy more time to negotiate instead of more rounds of losses for the GOP leader.
But with Democrats’ planning to whip against any motion, Republicans would need the support of 218 members of their own party for it to succeed.
Not all Republicans support the motion, with specific concern around those in the party who voted against McCarthy’s leadership bid. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Penn., for example, tweeted that he “won’t back down.”
Could the House adjourn again? What to expect when the chamber reconvenes
The House is scheduled to reconvene Wednesday at noon, starting with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance before the clerk will move to a fourth ballot in the speaker election.
That could, however, be interrupted.
Some McCarthy allies are discussing making a motion to adjourn until Thursday, according to multiple sources — which would require a majority to pass. A motion to adjourn early Wednesday could be met with resistance — from both Democrats and Republicans.
If members don't agree to a motion to adjourn, then the House would head to a fourth ballot. Nominating speeches would be made before the roll is called on another speaker vote.
When Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., made the motion to adjourn Tuesday evening, it was decided without a roll call because members were so eager to get off the floor.
The last time a speaker election took multiple ballots: 1923
The last time a speaker election went to multiple ballots, the House took four unsuccessful votes on the first day, December 3, 1923 before adjourning.
“Radicals Force Deadlock in House as Congress Opens,” read the headline of the New York Times the next day. At issue were rules changes that a group of Progressive Republicans demanded be made before they would agree to support the re-election of Republican Frederick Gillett as speaker.
Nicholas Longworth, Republican floor leader at that time, refused to negotiate at first. Four more unsuccessful ballots were taken December 4 before the House again adjourned. That night Longworth hashed out a deal with the Progressives and the following day Gillett was elected on the ninth ballot.
Pelosi says House should allow members to be sworn in before settling speaker vote
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the most recent House speaker, told reporters that she thinks the “courteous thing to do” is to allow members to be sworn in prior to the speaker vote so that their children can be there when it happens.
“Let’s just be courteous to the families on both sides of the aisle,” Pelosi said. Republicans were still jockeying Wednesday morning to come to a consensus on a new House speaker. Meanwhile, many new members from both parties spent Tuesday on the floor with their families, waiting in vain to be sworn in. Some brought their children, including babies.
Pelosi was then asked how it would be procedurally possible to swear in members without a speaker.
“Well, the speaker is sworn in without a speaker. So, the other members can be as well,” she said.
Pelosi criticized Republican leadership, saying she’s thankful that the GOP wasn’t in the majority on the day of the Jan. 6 attack because “that was a day you had to be organized to stave off what was happening to save our democracy, to certify the election of the president.”
How could this end? Changing the rules probably won't help
The longest election for speaker of the House went on for two months over the course of 1855-56 and took 133 ballots. But new Speaker Nathaniel Banks technically wasn’t chosen that year by a majority. Instead, the House voted to change the rules temporarily to elect the speaker by a plurality vote rather than a majority.
That has only happened one other time, in 1849, when it took 63 ballots to elect the speaker. If members start to grow weary as voting drags on, changing to a plurality vote is an option. A majority vote to change the rule would be needed.
At this point, however, McCarthy would likely not even win that vote — Democratic Leader Jeffries would. With the entire Democratic caucus behind him, Jeffries has so far received more votes than McCarthy on each ballot. McCarthy would need to flip enough of his opponents to ensure he would have more votes than Jeffries.
Biden on House speaker chaos: 'It's a little embarrassing'
Before leaving the White House for Kentucky on Wednesday, Biden said that the GOP's struggle to elect a House speaker is not his concern.
"That’s not my problem," he told reporters. "I just think it’s a little embarrassing it’s taking so long."
Biden said the rest of the world is watching how Republicans are "dealing with one another" and they're wondering if they can get their "act together."
'What I’m focused on is getting things done," he said.
McCarthy: 'Same game plan as yesterday'
After arriving to the Capitol on Wednesday morning, McCarthy told reporters, "I think we can get to an agreement."
McCarthy is sticking with the strategy that left the House deadlocked on Tuesday.
"Same game plan as yesterday," he told reporters when asked what his plan for today was.
"We're sitting, we're talking," he said.
Meanwhile, House Republicans began a 10:45 a.m. ET conference call to discuss the path forward. The Tuesday morning meeting of Republicans became heated when McCarthy tried to convince his members to unite and some argued about the need to reach an agreement.
Sen. Patty Murray is currently second in line for the presidency
Because a speaker has not been elected, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is currently second in the presidential line of succession because she is the Senate president pro tempore.
Murray became the first woman to hold the second highest-ranking position in the chamber on Tuesday after the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to put her in the position by voice vote.
“Well, the fact is,” Murray told NBC News Wednesday morning when asked if she was acting under the assumption that she is currently second in line to the presidency. “But hopefully they’re gonna figure it out.”
Murray would become president in the unlikely and tragic event that both the president and vice president suddenly become unable to do their job.
Why is the C-SPAN video so much better during the speaker vote?
People tuned in to the excitement of the multiple roll calls for the speaker election have noticed that the video being aired on C-SPAN looks a little different than usual. There are different angles and shots of lawmakers and their kids. It's less static than what's usually shown on the House floor.
The big difference is that for now, C-SPAN has their own cameras in the chamber — and normally, it doesn't.
C-SPAN spokesman Howard Mortman explained that for certain big events — like a joint meeting, the State of the Union address and speeches by foreign leaders — C-SPAN and other independent media outlets are allowed to bring their cameras to show the House floor. And did so for the speaker vote on Tuesday.
"When the House returns to regular legislative business, C-SPAN and other independent media cameras will no be longer be allowed to cover the floor. And that's when it reverts back to regular, government-controlled feed — meaning the government controls the video and the audio from the chambers," Mortman said.
C-SPAN has repeatedly asked in the past for Congress to allow its cameras in more places, at more times. C-SPAN's being allowed have its cameras in the chamber has nothing to do with the fact that there currently is no elected speaker.
Santos still plans to be sworn into Congress
Rep.-elect George Santos told NBC News on Wednesday that he still plans to be sworn into Congress despite pressure for him to step down after lying about a number of things on his resume.
Asked if he spoke to McCarthy on Tuesday, Santos said, "Yes I did and I still support him very much for speaker."
Former GOP Rep. Upton won't rule out consensus bid for speaker
Former Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who has been floated as a potential bipartisan consensus choice for speaker is not ruling out the proposition — even if its an unlikely longshot since the House has never picked a speaker who isn't also a member.
“I haven’t ruled that out,” Upton told NBC News on Wednesday morning. “But we’re a long way from getting to that point.”
Upton says he still supports McCarthy but the deadlock "shows that you got real problems.”
A turn to Upton is still unlikely. He would need the support of a great share of Democrats, who are united around Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., as well as several Republicans.
After 34 years in the U.S. House, Upton announced his retirement last year. He was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Upton predicted the speaker race will last for days ahead.
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur open to voting for McCarthy
Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur said in an interview Tuesday night that she's open to voting for McCarthy for speaker — a development that could signal the beginnings of a patchwork bipartisan coalition that hands the beleaguered Republican the gavel.
"I was thinking today, 'Gosh, Kevin McCarthy was only short a few votes.' I wish I could be part of some kind of a unity caucus that would yield him the votes — because the Republicans hold the majority — and maybe put us in a special category," Kaptur said in the interview with Taylor Popielarz, a reporter with Spectrum News.
"I was going around talking to some of my Republican colleagues about that," Kaptur added. "I said, 'What would we call that, where we would lend our votes to Kevin McCarthy?' I'm a Democrat, but I have many Republicans in our district. And not that we would agree with him on everything, but at least let the man become speaker."
Whenever she is sworn in for her 21st term, Kaptur will become the longest-serving woman in congressional history. She survived a re-election campaign last year in a Toledo-based district that became more Republican under a new House map.
In a statement to NBC News, Kaptur aide David Zavac said that the congresswoman is "proud to support Hakeem Jeffries," the Democratic candidate for speaker.
But Zavac added: "If, with Republicans in the majority, the path to getting things done for hard-working Northwest Ohioans is forming a coalition leadership group to deliver for the American people it is no surprise Marcy Kaptur would pitch in to help."
Top McCarthy allies are negotiating with the goal of whittling majority vote threshold
Some of Kevin McCarthy's top allies have been deputized in negotiations with Freedom Caucus members, including Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Garret Graves of Louisiana, and Bruce Westerman and French Hill, both of Arkansas.
The contours of the talks continue to hinge on such things as lowering the number of members needed to trigger a motion to vacate the chair (that is, to try to remove the speaker) and questions of House procedure. But the goal isn't to get all 20 members opposed to McCarthy to flip; rather, it's to get some to flip and others to vote present, requiring a smaller majority threshold that McCarthy could clear on the floor.
McCarthy, however, has been talking with reluctant or recalcitrant lawmakers for weeks. What’s different now? When asked on Tuesday, McHenry replied simply, and somewhat cryptically, “Time.”
Leaving a meeting with McCarthy late Tuesday night, Westerman said, “There’s no rule, or anything, that says how long it can or can’t go on.”
Gaetz argues McCarthy should be booted from speaker's office
GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida intensified his attacks on McCarthy by arguing that the California Republican “can no longer be considered Speaker-Designate” after failing to win the gavel on Tuesday and should be removed from the office in the Capitol reserved for the speaker.
In a letter to the head of the Architect of the Capitol, which oversees office space for lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Gaetz claimed McCarthy was trying to "occupy" the speaker's office.
“After three undeciding votes, no member can lay claim to this office,” Gaetz wrote. “What is the basis in law, House rule, or precedent to allow someone who has placed second in three successive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House Office? How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?”
Gaetz on Tuesday was among a group of conservatives who opposed McCarthy's bid for speaker, first voting for Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and then Jordan, even after the Ohio Republican nominated McCarthy.
Biggs responded to Gaetz's letter in a tweet on Wednesday by saying, "McCarthy is squatting in the Speaker’s office."
Several freshman members issued incorrect press releases saying they were sworn in
Some freshman lawmakers posted press releases Tuesday erroneously saying they had been sworn in to the new Congress — all of which were nearly identical. Lawmakers weren’t sworn in on Tuesday as planned because a speaker had not been elected.
Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y., who is under scrutiny after admitting he made numerous false claims about his background, is among the freshman lawmakers who issued the incorrect statements. Some others include Republicans Dale Strong of Alabama, Eli Crane of Arizona and John Duarte of California, and Democrat Yadira Caraveo of Colorado.
On Wednesday morning, the erroneous press releases remained on their websites.
Democrats revel in GOP chaos on Day 2 of speaker election
House Democrats on Wednesday continued to scoff at their GOP counterparts, who are facing a second day of trying to elect a speaker after their first attempts fell short.
Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., tweeted, “Day 2 of the 118th Congress: @HouseDemocrats stand united in fighting for progress. Republicans are fighting each other.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y, tweeted, “Day 1: Kevin McCarthy’s own Republicans rejected him. Day 2: trying this again and hopefully Republicans will have their act together with less chaos. #SpeakerOfTheHouse #118thCongress.”
“I’m disappointed that the House adjourned after failing to select a Speaker of the House,” tweeted Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., who said what unfolded Tuesday was an "embarrassing distraction."
McCarthy faces second day of uncertainty
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and his conservative detractors will square off for a second consecutive day as lawmakers prepare to resume voting on Wednesday to pick the next House speaker.
The fresh showdown comes a day after a group of 20 far-right rebels banded together and blocked McCarthy from winning the 218 votes needed.
Three separate votes were held, and each time the California Republican and veteran member of GOP leadership fell short. It marked the first time in 100 years that the speaker vote has gone to multiple ballots.
“This is about saving the country and getting somebody that’s going to cut and get us on a financial path of solvency,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., one of the so-called Never Kevins who voted against McCarthy. “I’ll sit here for six more months — it doesn’t matter.”
Trump blames Republican 'turmoil' on McConnell
Former President Donald Trump — who reiterated his support for McCarthy in his bid to become speaker Wednesday after declining to do so to NBC News on Tuesday — has sought to blame the struggles of House Republicans on the Senate's GOP leader: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"There is so much unnecessary turmoil in the Republican Party, in large part do to people like the Old Broken Crow, Mitch McConnell," Trump wrote on his social media site Truth Social Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, after posting about his continued support for McCarthy, Trump again sent another post attacking McConnell.
Speaker standoff highlights deep GOP divisions
A stunning inability to elect a speaker Tuesday highlighted fissures within the Republican Party over strategy and vision, grinding the House to a halt and raising fresh questions about the future of the GOP.
“We have to make a choice today: Are we going to be the party of the radical 2%? Because that’s what it comes down to,” a frustrated Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said after a caucus meeting. “Kevin McCarthy will be the speaker of the House — and I don’t care if it’s the first ballot or the 97th ballot.”
The standoff was demoralizing for a party that had hoped to use the new majority to show Americans how it would govern — before it asks voters to give the GOP control of the White House and the Senate in the 2024 election. Instead, the displays of dysfunction threaten to further alienate independent and center-right voters, who drifted toward Democrats in 2022, causing the GOP’s underperformance in the midterm elections and its current paper-thin margin.