Bakersfield, CA

Speaker Of The House Vote Enters Second Tumultuous Day

Vince Martellacci
Bakersfield, CA, from where Kevin McCarthy hailsPhoto byKyle Howeth

Kevin McCarthy is poised to lose on a fourth ballot. He lost his third ballot yesterday for Speaker of The House. In the first vote, Kevin McCarthy had come up short fifteen votes of the 218 he needs, at 203. Hakeem Jeffries received 212. Neither received the 218 required and there will be another ballot round. In the third ballot, representative Jim Jordan, known for consistent support of Trump around the 2020 election and January 6, was nominated.

Kevin McCarthy was nominated for Speaker of the House of Representatives at about 10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern time Tuesday. Also nominated were Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Republican Andy Biggs. Biggs does not have enough votes to be the nominee and is a mostly symbolic dissent from further-left Republicans in the House.

Elise Stefanik officially nominated McCarthy and Pete Aguilar officially nominated Jeffires. Paul Gosar nominated Biggs, a candidate put forth by those in congress who don’t believe McCarthy is far enough right, or at least is not fully aligned with the current Republican party.

McCarthy was introduced as a son of a firefighter and a fourth-generation Californian from Kern County. He represents the Southern California district of Bakersfield. Stefanik called McCarthy, “a proud conservative with a tireless work ethic.”

Stefanik and Aguilar each seemed to show real pride in their candidate, but what was more noteworthy was the amount of ire each had in their brief speeches for the opposing party.

Stefanik made her feelings known: ““In just two years of failed one-party ‘Democrat’ rule, the American people have suffered from a historic border crisis, rampant crime, crippling inflation, rising energy costs, runaway debt, unconstitutional attacks on our fundamental freedoms, and weakness at home and abroad.” Those claims are hard to verify as they are spoken in sweeping and general terms, but it highlights that Republicans blame Democrats for a country they feel is off the rails.

Aguilar pulled no punches either, referencing Trump as he claimed Jeffries, “does not bend a knee to anyone who seeks to undermine our democracy.” Throughout his speech, Aguilar seemed to dig at the fact that Republicans could not settle on a nominee, reminding the room that, “we [Democrats] are united.”

Stefanik said the quiet part a little more “out loud,” calling out the ways she believes Democrats have failed Americans: “The people across this great nation spoke loudly and clearly that they wanted a new direction. They wanted a new direction to stop this radical far-left agenda, to hold Joe Biden accountable, and to save the USA.”

Jeffries’ nomination, though he’s unlikely to win, is historic. It is the first time a black man has had a chance to become the Speaker of the House. Jeffries recently made history in November by becoming the leader of his party in congress.

Said Aguilar of Jeffries, “He is guided every step of the way by the faith his mom instilled in him.” Aguilar told a story in which the young Jeffries would test his future lawyer skills by trying to argue his way out of church.

Aguilar said Jeffries’ mother won those battles, and took special care in repeating, as if to call attention to the fact, that Jeffries is a loyal churchgoer. It seemed clearly important to Aguilar and the Democrats that their party, sometimes-maligned as the godless one, be positioned as religious.

Stefanik seemed to remind her own party that Kevin was their nominee. She prodded them to unite behind him, saying, “Kevin knows what we stand for, he knows when we should engage in the fight, and he knows when [we need to build] consensus.”

Representative Stefanik went on, imploring the chamber to remember that they are all mostly aligned: ““Kevin McCarthy is a strong conservative. He is proudly pro-life and a strong supporter of our second amendment rights, and he is committed to stopping wasteful government spending and shrinking the size of government.”

McCarthy received drawn-out, but unenthusiastic applause. Jeffries’ party was extremely enthusiastic about him, not just cheering through the nomination speech but actually whooping and hollering.

In the first vote, Biggs received ten votes (a few more than expected), and nine other votes went to other members of the chamber. Lauren Boebert seemed to take a stand by voting for someone who had not been nominated, Trump supporter Jim Jordan. The subtext of that and similar voting decisions, is an attempt to shore up her position as an acolyte of Trump who will execute his agenda.

It is possible that Boebert's vote gave Jordan momentum to make a speech to his colleagues in support of McCarthy. However, the likely-unintended consquence of that is that in the second vote, Jordan received nineteen votes, complicating things further for the GOP. On the third ballot, Jordan was nominated by Chip Roy. from Texas.

PBS gave an excellent explanation of what it takes to win. First, to become speaker requires a simple majority. PBS adds that, “while the magic number is 218 votes out of the 435-member House, a person could become speaker with fewer votes if several members do not attend the vote. That happened in 2021 when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., won with just 216 votes after three members voted ‘present.’”

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I've covered stories of unknown immigrants from places like Cambodia, been an opinion editor and opinion blog writer, managed blogs for my own businesses & for other brands. I'm looking forward to getting back to more classical journalism.

Walnut Creek, CA

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