After suffering another crushing defeat on Wednesday, when he lost a sixth round of voting for House speaker, Kevin McCarthy proposed more key concessions in his push for 218 votes — including agreeing to propose a rule change that would allow a member Call for a vote to oust the sitting speaker, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The big offer comes as McCarthy struggles to find a path forward, having been postponed until 12pm ET on Thursday.
The House GOP majority is locked in a contentious stalemate amid opposition to McCarthy from caucus conservatives. The fight that started on the first day of the 118th Congress, the DMK The new House GOP majority is in disarray and reduced the party’s agenda.
The House will continue to remain suspended until the deadlock is resolved. The situation has worsened for McCarthy’s political future, as Republican allies have begun to fear that the House GOP leader may not be able to pull off his gamble for the speakership if the fight drags on.
It’s unclear whether McCarthy and his allies will be able to lock down the vote — and as the fight drags on, his free-speech effort has gotten worse. But on Wednesday there were signs that talks were progressing.
McCarthy’s latest offer would be a significant victory for hardline conservatives — after the California Republican Party already proposed a limit of five members. That’s down from current convention rules that require half of the GOP to call for such a vote. But many more moderate members were concerned about giving in to the far right on this matter, as it could weaken speakers and cause confusion in the ranks.
Among two other concessions, he agreed to allow more members of the independent caucus on the powerful House Rules Committee, which dictates how and when bills come to the floor, and to vote on a handful of bills. Priorities for holdouts, including term limits for membership and proposing a border security plan.
However, nothing is final as negotiations are ongoing. And Republican sources say even if McCarthy’s offer is accepted, it will not get him the 218 votes he needs to become speaker. While these concessions have attracted some new support, other opponents have raised various concerns that have yet to be fully addressed.
The House adjourned for several hours as Republicans continued to negotiate after a failed speaker vote earlier in the day.
A Texas representative was among the conservatives who voted against McCarthy’s free-speech initiative. Chip Roy told GOP leaders he thought he could get 10 holdouts if the ongoing negotiations panned out, according to GOP sources familiar with the internal discussions. There are additional detractors who are willing to vote “now”.
Sources said Wednesday’s talks between McCarthy allies and holdouts were the most productive and intense to date. In a sign of progress, McCarthy-affiliated super PACs have agreed not to play open Republican primaries in safe seats — one of the big demands conservatives have made, but McCarthy has so far resisted.
“We’ve had more discussions as a body sitting there in the last two days than we’ve done in four years,” Roy said as he left the Capitol Wednesday night.
Still, even if these negotiations prove successful and 10 lawmakers flip McCarthy’s column—which is unlikely—it falls short of McCarthy’s 218 votes to win the speakership, so he still has more work to do.
Incoming House Majority Whip Tom Emmer said Wednesday evening that negotiations over the next speaker have been “very constructive.”
“There’s a whole membership involved in this, and some are sitting down now and talking about that debate and seeing where they want to go with it next,” the Minnesota Republican said.
House Republicans hold 222 seats in the new Congress, so for McCarthy to reach 218, he can only lose four GOP votes. His obstacle is that he faces a small but determined group of hardline conservatives.
The group has used its influence in the Republican majority to secure concessions. McCarthy has already given in to many of their demands, including making it easier to oust a sitting speaker, but so far his efforts have been insufficient.
The House met on Wednesday to take a vote after that Three rounds of voting On Tuesday. McCarthy has come up short each time, failing to reach the majority threshold needed to secure the speakership.
When the vote was extended on Tuesday, the situation worsened as the number of votes against McCarthy’s bid for speaker increased.
The first ballot for Speaker was 203 for McCarthy, with 19 Republicans voting for other candidates. On the second ballot, McCarthy had 203 votes and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio had 19 votes. McCarthy received 202 votes in the third round of voting and 20 votes for Jordan, Rep. Byron Donalds joined 19 other GOP lawmakers who voted against McCarthy in the first two rounds.
It was the first time since 1923 that the election for Speaker went to multiple ballots.
“My vote yesterday was basically to break a deadlock because we’ve been deadlocked and we’re not going anywhere,” Donalds, a Florida Republican, said Wednesday on “CNN This Morning.” “Right now, (McCarthy) doesn’t have a path to get there. If it comes up again, yes, I can be there, and that’s fine, but it’s important now for Republicans to come together and find a way to elect a speaker.”
In the fourth round of voting, 20 Republicans voted together for Donald, the group shifting their collective support from Jordan to Donald. Representative Victoria Sports of Indiana voted, reducing McCarthy’s limit to 217.
Sparts told CNN he did so because he wanted to allow further negotiations within the conference to address the concerns of the 20 members.
The final tally for the fifth vote was again 201 votes for McCarthy, 20 votes for Donald, and one present vote.
The final tally for the sixth ballot was the same: 201 for McCarthy, 20 for Donald and one present.
Trump is closely watching the movement on Capitol Hill and his public support is a key focus of McCarthy’s efforts.
McCarthy’s allies panicked when the former president asked NBC News about his support for McCarthy on Tuesday, two GOP sources familiar with the matter said. The former president declined to issue a statement Monday, reiterating his endorsement of McCarthy despite behind-the-scenes efforts by several McCarthy allies to get Trump to do so, two of the sources said.
A close McCarthy ally then began working behind the scenes to do cleanup duty and pressure Trump to issue a statement clarifying his support. McCarthy and Trump later connected on the phone, where McCarthy expressed his commitment to supporting Trump. Trump made a strong endorsement on Truth Social on Wednesday morning, imploring Republicans to “not turn a big win into a big win” and urging them to vote for McCarthy.
While Trump’s statement didn’t move the needle among staunch McCarthy opponents, one source said McCarthy was worried the world was “weak” and that he seemed to be showing support, so they felt it was important to change the narrative.
Gates, one of the House Republicans opposed to McCarthy’s bid for speaker, dismissed as “tragic” Trump’s latest attempt to help the California Republican.
“It doesn’t change my view of McCarthy or Trump or my vote,” Getz said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Wednesday, shortly after Trump came to McCarthy’s defense in a Truth Social post.
A longtime staunch Trump ally, Getz’s refusal to bow to Trump’s desire for the McCarthy speakership raises fresh questions about the former president’s waning influence over Republicans amid his third presidential campaign.
“If Matt Gates ignores you, that’s not a good sign,” said one Trump associate involved in the 2024 campaign.
Trump has been making calls on McCarthy’s behalf for the past 24 hours in an attempt to break the conservative blockade against him, but his efforts have so far been fruitless.
A lawmaker who spoke with Trump late Tuesday suggested that the former president run for speaker himself, a person said. Trump pushed back and continued to push the man to endorse McCarthy, saying he would be a solid “America First” supporter.
This story and topic have been updated with additional improvements.