The 118th Congress opened on Tuesday, a historically staid, even boring event that descended into chaos after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) failed to lock down the votes to become House speaker. The California Republican’s inability to secure the speakership in the first round of voting is a colossal embarrassment for a man who has been singularly focused on clinching the role for years, and will result in a drawn-out balloting process that hasn’t been seen on the House floor in over a century.
The rebellion against McCarthy, who appears to believe that he’s something akin to destined for the position, has long been in the making. The party’s more extremist characters, folks like Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), have been clamoring for more concessions; many have openly questioned McCarthy’s effectiveness after a historically dismal performance in the recent midterm elections. Here’s what reportedly happened at an 11th-hour, closed-door conference meeting just hours before the vote:
Things getting heated in House GOP meeting.
McCarthy swore in his speech, dropping a “god damnit.” And he made clear he would negotiate no more. McCarthy also said opponents came to him with “personal asks” last night.
Lauren boebert yelled in response to speech: “BULL SHIT”
— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) January 3, 2023
So what happens next? Voting will likely drag out and go to multiple ballots. If McCarthy still fails to get the 218 votes to win the speakership and eventually bails on the whole thing, we could see the ascension of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) though it’s far from certain if Scalise would fare much better. We’ll provide updates as the day goes on.