Rep. Kevin McCarthy was within two or three votes of winning the marathon race to become Speaker of the House when the Republican majority voted on Jan. 6 to adjourn until 10 pm.
The adjournment is meant to give McCarthy and his team time to find a way to switch enough of the last six holdouts in a group of 20 populist conservative Members who have opposed the California Republican from the outset of the Speaker contest since on Jan. 3.
When Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) switched his vote during the 13th roll call, it brought a huge cheer from the Republicans in the chamber because it put McCarthy one key vote closer to victory, with a total of 214.
If all 435 Members are present, 218 votes are required to win, but two representatives are not expected to be present in the evening, making it possible for McCarthy to win with 216 votes.
Two of the remaining dissidents are expected to be the focus of negotiations now, including Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona and Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana. Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Bob Good of Virginia are considered the least likely to switch their votes to McCarthy.
During a quick news conference with journalists outside the House Chamber, McCarthy expressed confidence in the outcome when the House reconvenes later in the evening saying, “This is the great part. Because it took this long, now we learned how to govern. So now we’ll be able to get the job done.”
McCarthy had succeeded in switching 13 of the 20 earlier in the day when the votes were counted for the 12th time. Members assembled at noon for the fourth day of speaking, debating, negotiating, and voting in the historic effort to name a successor to now-former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).