Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made progress in his quest to become the next House speaker, but he’s still four votes short. McCarthy needed 217 votes to receive an overall majority, and he received 213.
The threshold has been lowered from 218 votes because some members are absent, including Rep.-Elect Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, who went home because his wife had a baby.
McCarthy told fellow Republicans on a conference call Friday morning that he had made progress but had not reached a final deal. As each of the defectors changed their votes to McCarthy, they received a standing ovation from the rest of the Republican conference.
“We’re going to make progress. We’re going to shock you,” McCarthy told reporters as he arrived at the Capitol.
McCarthy came to an agreement with Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, which gained him 13 votes. However, he has not been able to win over Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., or Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who are also leading a group opposed to the California congressman. Gaetz and Boebert’s objections to McCarthy are personal whereas Roy’s objection was based on policy.
Democrats are criticizing Republicans for not being able to elect a speaker with their new majority. They said it is holding the House back from doing the people’s work, something some Republicans have echoed.
The House of Representatives is at a standstill until it can elect a speaker. It cannot swear members in, debate or pass legislation. Its committees cannot meet and members cannot provide constituent services.