WASHINGTON – 12th The vote was a charm for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, when 14 of 20 opponents, led by U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Hayes County Republican, changed their vote Friday to back the GOP leader’s bid to become House Speaker .
McCarthy was still three votes short of the 12th vote.th round when he needed 217 votes, and also in 13th round. Several members were absent for various reasons, including Rep.-elect Wes Hunt, R. Houston, a McCarthy supporter who returned to Texas to be with his wife, who had complications after giving birth earlier this week.
Hunt was expected to return Friday night for a late-night vote that McCarthy hopes will secure the speaker’s seat.
“I believe we’ll have enough votes by then to end this once and for all,” McCarthy told reporters of a scheduled Friday night session.
The deal, which McCarthy presented to the Republican opponent from the Freedom Caucus and others, focuses on the rule changes they’ve been seeking for months. These changes will reduce the powers of the speaker’s office and give grassroots legislators more influence in drafting and enacting laws.
All 25 Texas Republicans now support McCarthy, including three who voted against him: Roy, Rep. Michael Cloud of Victoria, and Rep.-elect Keith Self of McKinney.
All Democrats in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Rep.-elect Greg Kasar, both from Austin, voted for Democratic leader Hakim Jeffreys, DN.Y., for Speaker.
Roy was a central figure among Republican Party dissidents, advocating changes to rules and procedures to open the House to debate and prevent bills from being pushed through without members having time to review them. He wanted to introduce a rule providing for 72 hours for bills to be published before they are voted on.
Roy did not respond to American-Statesman’s requests Friday for comment on his vote change or details of the rule changes he forced McCarthy to agree to.
In a Friday night statement, Cloud said: “For the past four days, I have taken a stand and continued negotiations to ensure that the legislative process works for individual members and is not dominated by the party leadership. After several days of debate in the House of Representatives, we have made significant progress on the processes and reforms we have fought for. The final details are being worked out, but I really hope we can do it for the American people.”
On Wednesday, the second day of voting, Roy laid out his position: “This country needs change. … The only way to achieve this is if you change the rules and get guidance to move the rules forward to make sure we can do it.”
In a statement posted Friday on his Facebook campaign website, Self said: “I voted today to show support for significant rule changes to move the House of Representatives from dysfunctional to functional. I believe we are on the cusp of a significant transfer of power from leadership to individual members and the American people.”
Clearly striking at remaining opponents such as prominent Rep. Matt Goetz, a Florida Republican who has been raising funds for his opposition to McCarthy, Self said: “It has become clear to me that a couple of people are just obstructionists, more interested in self-promotion than in the restoration of the Republic.
The stumbling block for many conservatives is the rule known as “vacate the chair”, that is, a vote of no confidence in the speaker. The Conservatives want any individual member of the House of Representatives to be able to force the House to vote for the Speaker.
McCarthy first suggested that five members be enough to achieve such a vote, but he gave in to demands to reduce that number to one member. That was until then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D.C., changed it in 2019 to become a member of the leadership of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, or a majority of either party.
The clash that stumped the new Congress came amid the second anniversary of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which rocked the country as a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican’s defeat in the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.
At an event at the Capitol on Friday, some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, observed a moment of silence and praised the officers who helped defend Congress that day. And at the White House, Biden presented medals to officers and others who fought the attackers.
“America is a land of laws, not chaos,” he said.
Additional material from the Associated Press.