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GOP leader Kevin McCarthy claims ‘progress’ in House speaker vote, says game plan is ‘to win’

Would-be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy arrived at Capitol Hill Wednesday in good spirits as lawmakers prepare for another vote to determine who will lead the House of Representatives after failing to elect a speaker Tuesday.

The House voted three times for a new speaker yesterday, and each time McCarthy came up short of the 218 votes he needed to clinch the speakership. Asked what his “game plan” is for today’s votes, the California Republican told reporters, “same game as it was yesterday – it’s to win.” 

“Has there been any progress?” a reporter asked McCarthy.

“Yeah, I think we can do it. We’ll see if we can do it,” he responded.

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The House is scheduled to convene at 12 p.m. ET Wednesday for another round of voting. So far, none of the 20 House Freedom Caucus Republicans who oppose McCarthy to be the next speaker have indicated they will change their votes. The holdouts are demanding that the next House speaker commit to process reforms that would disempower the speaker’s office and say McCarthy has refused to make those concessions. 

McCarthy’s supporters in the House expressed outrage at the dissidents on social media and in interviews with the press. They’ve accused the holdouts of lacking an endgame and of disrupting Congress just as the new GOP majority was set to begin work against President Biden’s agenda. 

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There are 222 Republicans in the majority and McCarthy can only afford to lose four GOP votes. There has been no indication that he’s made further concessions to the holdouts or begun negotiations with Democrats on a coalition government – though Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., floated that outcome as a possibility, however unlikely. 

“There is a very interesting quandary that Kevin McCarthy is in. He needs to get these votes somewhere if he wants to be speaker, and if he can’t get those votes from the House Freedom Caucus, he’s not going to become speaker. Unless, he approaches the Democratic Party in order to enter into some negotiation,” Ocasio-Cortez told her Instagram followers Tuesday.

“If this goes on, and on, and on, and the Republican Party has no speaker nominee, something has got to give,” she added. 

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