In First Vote, Hakeem Jeffries Wins More Votes Than Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker

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The battle for the speaker of the House position continues after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., failed to secure the majority of votes on Tuesday.

The 118th Congress convened at noon and voted shortly after for the speakership position. McCarthy received 203 votes in the first round of votes.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., nominated Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., for the speaker position. Biggs challenged McCarthy for the speakership nomination in November, but the House Republican conference sided with McCarthy, 188-31, CBS News reported.

The following members of Congress voted for Biggs: Gosar, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Biggs, Bob Good of Virginia, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Eli Crane of Arizona, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

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Reps. Michael Cloud of Texas, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Mary Miller of Illinois, Keith Self of Texas, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado cast their votes for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., voted for former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., while Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, voted for Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Rep. Josh Breechen, R-Okla., voted for Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.

House Democrats nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to follow Nancy Pelosi in leading Democrats in the next Congress as House speaker. He received 212 votes—nine more votes than McCarthy received.

Jeffries, a 52-year-old New York Democrat, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Budget Committee as well as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Gaetz, Rosendale, Norman, Biggs, and Good had previously said they would not support McCarthy’s speakership bid, The Washington Examiner reported. Gaetz spoke to reporters just prior to the vote taking place.

“Those of us who will not be voting for Kevin McCarthy today take no joy in this discomfort that this moment has brought. But if you want to drain the swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,” Gaetz said. “I’m a Florida man and I know of what I speak.”

“We offered Kevin McCarthy terms last evening that he rejected. We sought a vote in the first quarter of the 118th Congress on term limits. He refused. We wanted a budget from the Republican Study Committee that balances on the floor in the first quarter. He refused,” Gaetz said. “We wanted the border plan that the Texas delegation put together on the floor. He refused. Time and again, his viewpoints, his positions, they shift like sands underneath you.”

In addition to the five Republican lawmakers who opposed McCarthy’s speakership bid, nine other Republicans—Perry, Gosar, Ogles, Luna, Crane, Roy, Bishop, Harris, and Clyde—similarly expressed their dissatisfaction with the California lawmaker in a New Year’s Day letter.

Also on Sunday, McCarthy unveiled a number of concessions in a letter to fellow Republican lawmakers such as ending virtual participation and proxy voting, Fox News reported.

“Just as the Speaker is elected by the whole body, we will restore the ability for any 5 members of the majority party to initiate a vote to remove the Speaker if so warranted,” McCarthy said in the letter.

“Congress was never intended for Zoom, and no longer will members be able to phone it in while attending lavish international weddings or sailing on their boat. We will meet, gather and debate in person—just as the founders envisioned,” McCarthy also said.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., on Monday criticized the Republican House lawmakers opposing McCarthy.

“I don’t understand what they’re doing. They’re not voting against Kevin McCarthy. They’re voting against over 215 members of their own conference. Their conference voted overwhelmingly, 85%, for McCarthy to be speaker, so this is a fight between a handful of people and the entire rest of the conference,” Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends.”

“They’re saying they have the right to screw up everything. Well, the precedent that sets is so do the moderates, so do the members from Florida,” Gingrich said. “I mean, any five people can get up and say, ‘I’m now going to screw up the conference too.’ The choice is Kevin McCarthy or chaos.”

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana won the House majority leader position, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota won the House majority whip position, and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York was reelected to the House conference chair position in November.

Mary Margaret Olohan contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., is no longer in Congress.

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