PREVIOUSLY: A dramatic few moments unfolded on the House floor, all captured live by C-SPAN cameras, as Kevin McCarthy confronted Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a holdout who has been the key to his effort to secure a majority for the speakership in the latest vote.
At one point, Rep. Mike Rogers attempted to lunge at Gaetz, who voted “present,” enough to deny McCarthy a majority. Cameras caught another member-elect, Richard Hudson, grab Rogers and restrain him.
McCarthy had walked down the aisle to Gaetz for a conversation, apparently in an effort to get him to change his vote. After a bit, voices were raised between the two.
This intense scene came on the second anniversary of the January 6th attack, when members had barricaded the doors, several feet away from where the latest incident occurred, to keep rioters from getting access to the chamber.
Gaetz voted “present” after having been engaged in an extended conversation with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NE), a key McCarthy ally.
Democrats got up from their seats to watch the scene unfold. Earlier, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) was spotted reading the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F-ck.
PREVIOUSLY: Kevin McCarthy sought to lock up the votes to be elected speaker of the House as the yet-to-be-sworn-in members elected gathered for a late-night 14th roll call.
The vote will be close. In the most recent roll call, McCarthy mustered 114 votes, again falling short of a majority, with six Republicans still holding out.
There was buzz that some of them, like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who earlier gave a blistering floor speech against McCarthy, would simply vote “present” and lower the threshold he needed to win. CNN reported that Gaetz was seen walking out of McCarthy’s office, but he would not say how he would vote.
There also was an expectation that two Republicans who have been absent from Friday’s roll calls would return, again helping McCarthy’s chances.
Some Democrats, meanwhile, appear resigned to the possibility that the weeklong standoff among Republicans would soon come to an end. They had relished in 11 straight votes where Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries had garnered the most votes of any speaker candidate, albeit not enough of a majority.
“The word is circling around. The intent is still strong. Kevin McCarthy is still standing,” one Democratic lawmaker said before entering the chamber.
If McCarthy is able to pull out a victory tonight, the plans are to move to the swearing in of the members and then to the passing of a rules package. There is some concern among Republicans that, given some of McCarthy’s concessions to the Freedom Caucus right, a handful of moderates will vote against the package.
In nominating McCarthy, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) countered President Joe Biden’s remark about the protracted process, that it was “embarrassing.”
“We know it is messy, but open and transparent debate is what sets us apart from authoritarian regimes,” McHenry said.
McCarthy has been able to sway dissident lawmakers — which numbered 20 until this morning — by making a series of concessions that reportedly include spots on the Rules Committee and another provisions regarding spending limits and the debt ceiling. The concessions appear to be giving more power to the Freedom Caucus.
As he nominated Jeffries, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) slammed the concessions as ones that will “set the path for division and default.”
Read More: Kevin McCarthy Seeks To Lock Up Speakership In Late Night Vote – Deadline