Kevin McCarthy fails again in US House speaker bid despite gains | Politics News

Several right-wing dissenters, who previously opposed the Republican leader, voted for him in the 12th ballot on Monday.

Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy has made considerable progress securing a majority to become speaker of the US House of Representatives, but he still fell short of the number of votes he needs to take the gavel.

On the 12th ballot, McCarthy won 213 votes on Friday, more than 201 he received a day earlier – bringing him closer to the 217-vote majority.

About a dozen far-right legislators who had previously opposed McCarthy’s bid flipped and voted for him on Friday, but a contingency of seven rebels was enough to thwart the Republican leader’s push for a majority.

For the first time since the voting began on Tuesday, McCarthy outperformed Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who got 211 votes on Friday.

Despite the gains made on Friday, questions persisted over McCarthy’s ability to lead a thin Republican majority with members willing to defy and undermine him.

Before the vote, Congressman Matt Gaetz, of Florida, delivered a defiant speech rebuking McCarthy and accusing him of being beholden to special interest groups.

“Mr McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today; he will not have the votes tomorrow, and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year,” Gaetz said.

“And so one must wonder, madam clerk, is this an exercise in vanity – for someone who has done the math, taken the counts and is putting this institution through something that absolutely is avoidable?”

McCarthy previously vowed to upset the Democratic agenda and intensify oversight over the administration of President Joe Biden as speaker.

The Republican dissenters had presented numerous demands before agreeing to back McCarthy, including changing House rules to allow any member to bring a no-confidence vote on the speaker.

They also sought a bigger say on the House Rules and Appropriations committees, which would allow them to influence the US government budget and help decide which bills can move forward in the chamber. Details of the possible deal that saw most of them change their votes in favour of McCarthy remain unclear.

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