Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R), R-Calif., speaks to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as a seventh vote for speaker of the House is delayed until Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted to adjourn Wednesday night and push a seventh vote for House speaker into a third day, after Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost a sixth vote to lead Republicans as speaker of the House.
The House reconvened shortly after 8 p.m. EST, when Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., raised a motion to adjourn until noon Thursday. A 15-minute electronic vote on the motion was taken after a verbal vote produced a rowdy response from both sides of the aisle.
The vote to adjourn was 216 in favor and 214 opposed. The vote was split mostly along party lines with Republicans wanting to call it a night, and Democrats voting to stay for the crucial vote.
A new House speaker is the first order of business for a new Congress. Without it, the 118th Congress cannot conduct any other business, including the swearing-in of new members.
Earlier Wednesday, McCarthy lost his sixth vote with a group of 20 Republicans standing firmly against him in the two-day GOP stalemate. Before heading back to chambers for a seventh vote, McCarthy told reporters he did not want another ballot Wednesday night, saying lawmakers had not reached a deal.
"I think it's probably best that people work through some more," McCarthy said. "I don't think a vote tonight does any difference, but I think a vote in the future will."
During the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots Wednesday, McCarthy received 201 votes, while the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, received 212 votes from Democrats as he did in each vote Tuesday.
However, this time it was Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, instead of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who took votes away from McCarthy. Donalds received 20 votes on all the ballots on Wednesday.
Opposition to McCarthy has been growing with each ballot. A total of 20 Republican colleagues opposed McCarthy during the third vote Tuesday, which wrapped up shortly before 5 p.m. EST, an increase from 19 during the second vote.
He had collected 202 votes on the third ballot Tuesday, one more than Wednesday's fourth ballot.
Rep.-elect Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., voted present in the fourth, fifth and sixth votes, after having voted for McCarthy in previous rounds.
Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., nominated McCarthy for the fourth vote Wednesday, saying he was the best choice to lead the party.
"I believe that in my bones, nobody has done more to lay out a plan for how we restore the basic functioning of this institution than Kevin McCarthy," he said.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., nominated Jeffries in the fourth and fifth vote, while Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, nominated Donalds.
"We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin but rather the content of their character," Roy said. "There's an important reason for nominating Byron, and that is, this country needs a change."
Tuesday's vote marked the first time in 100 years a speaker has not been elected on the first ballot.
McCarthy expressed optimism Tuesday night that he would still emerge victorious, even though some Republicans have suggested that McCarthy could lose more votes.
"This isn't about me," McCarthy told reporters. "This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out ... they want something for their personal selves."
McCarthy also said it doesn't matter if he loses more votes.
"It doesn't matter -- I have the most votes," he said.
Donalds had voted for McCarthy during the first two rounds, but voted against him during the third round. He suggested that McCarthy could lose more votes the longer voting goes on.
McCarthy said Tuesday there is no scenario in which he pulls out of the race for speaker, noting that he could seek a path in which he does not need to secure 218 votes, but rather a smaller majority by persuading some of his detractors to vote "present."
"You're sitting on 202 votes, so you need technically just 11 more votes to win," he said. "Democrats have 212 votes. You get 213 votes, and the others don't say another name, that's how you can win."
Ahead of Tuesday's votes, McCarthy had announced several concessions in a proposed House rules package, including changes to how the speaker could be removed, in an effort to gain the necessary votes. The concessions would allow any five Republican party members to call for the speaker's removal at any time, rather than a threshold of more than half of the House GOP conference that Republicans adopted in an internal rule in November.
Despite the concessions, several Republicans followed through on their plan to vote for Jordan.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia criticized fellow Republicans who opposed McCarthy, noting that even Jordan is supporting McCarthy.
"How did 19 Republicans not respect that?" Greene said. "I think 19, or 20 now, should respect Jim Jordan's wishes."
Former President Donald Trump said the Republicans should vote for McCarthy.
"It is a dangerous game, and, frankly, if they are not happy with him, they can do something about it at a later date," Trump told Fox News Digital in an interview. "I support [McCarthy] and I support getting the deal done. What I don't support is allowing this to continue onward."
The 118th Congress convenes at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 3, 2023. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo