The GOP’s once-in-a-century sabotage of Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens as votes are cast for next Speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

The GOP’s once-in-a-century sabotage of Kevin McCarthy

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For the first time in exactly 100 years, the election for speaker of the House of Representatives will go to a second ballot. Despite securing Republicans a razor-thin margin in Congress’s lower chamber, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) secured just 203 votes to become the third-in-line to the presidency. Nineteen Republicans voted for other candidates, and 212 Democrats backed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to succeed Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

It borders on banal to lament both political factions’ penchant for choosing party over country, but the Republican defection constitutes something even more grotesque: choosing personal vendettas and chaos over party and over country.


Do the defectors — the most vociferous of whom include Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who barely won Colorado’s 3rd District, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — have an actual plan to beat both McCarthy and the Democrats? Considering that the 19 voted for five different candidates in the first vote, it seems unlikely. If the defectors consider McCarthy, Donald Trump’s chosen candidate, insufficiently conservative, do they have a consensus candidate among whom “Maybe Kevin” voters could coalesce? Once again, it seems unlikely considering that Jim Jordan, the recipient of six of the GOP defector votes, immediately rose after the close of Jeffries’s plurality vote to renominate McCarthy.


Just 22% of Americans approve of Congress, even fewer than those who approve of our increasingly underwater presidents. We have to go back a full century to find the last time the speaker decision has gone to a second ballot. The longest time it has taken to finally hit that majority? In 1856, it took 133 votes over the course of more than a month. Even after Jordan’s nomination speech for McCarthy, the speaker seat failed to reach a majority, now poised to reach a third vote. That hasn’t happened since 1847.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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