House still without speaker as McCarthy pleads with

House about to vote for speaker for 12th time

Mike Garcia, a Republican congressman from California, is on his feet nominating Kevin McCarthy for speaker (again), and a 12th vote looks like it’s imminent.

“This is not about Kevin McCarthy,” Garcia is insisting, even though it is. He’s paying tribute to US service members, and addressing the fentanyl crisis even as he’s urging his colleagues to support McCarthy.

He’s also talking directly to Democrats, and drawing boos, as he takes a dig over them voting from home during the pandemic. He’s been rebuked for not directing his remarks through the chair.

“We are on the verge of a very important victory… a victory for the future of our nation,” he insists, although it’s far from clear McCarthy has even close to the 218 votes he will need to win the speaker’s gavel.

Democrat James Clyburn of South Carolina is nominating Hakeem Jeffries as his party’s nominee for a 12th time. Jeffries, the party’s leader in the House, has won all 212 Democrat votes in every round of voting so far.

Key events

Several House members reportedly walked out of the chamber during Matt Gaetz’s speech nominating Jim Jordan.

Also notable was that his address failed to gain the applause of a single congress member.

As voting continues, McCarthy has picked up at least five votes from the 20 rebels who had previously opposed him, indicating significant momentum to his cause.

It remains to be seen if the shift is enough to get McCarthy to the 218 votes he needs during this round of voting, but it’s the first time in 12 rounds of voting he has picked up support, and his allies will be encouraged.

Proceedings in the House are already growing rancorous as Florida Republican Matt Gaetz tears into Kevin McCarthy.

Gaetz, a leading member of the “Never Kevins” who have barred McCarthy’s path to the speakership over the last three days, and who on Thursday nominated Donald Trump for the role (the fortmer president got one vote, that of Gaetz), says the 12th vote will have the same result as the previous 11.

“One must wonder,” Madam Clerk, is this an exercise in vanity?” Gaetz wonders.

“Mr McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow, and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year.”

Gaetz nominates Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Now another Republican maverick, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, is on her feet, nominating Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.

Despite all the talk this morning of “glimmers of hope” and “breakthroughs”, it’s not looking good for McCarthy as things stand. Voting is under way.

House about to vote for speaker for 12th time

Mike Garcia, a Republican congressman from California, is on his feet nominating Kevin McCarthy for speaker (again), and a 12th vote looks like it’s imminent.

“This is not about Kevin McCarthy,” Garcia is insisting, even though it is. He’s paying tribute to US service members, and addressing the fentanyl crisis even as he’s urging his colleagues to support McCarthy.

He’s also talking directly to Democrats, and drawing boos, as he takes a dig over them voting from home during the pandemic. He’s been rebuked for not directing his remarks through the chair.

“We are on the verge of a very important victory… a victory for the future of our nation,” he insists, although it’s far from clear McCarthy has even close to the 218 votes he will need to win the speaker’s gavel.

Democrat James Clyburn of South Carolina is nominating Hakeem Jeffries as his party’s nominee for a 12th time. Jeffries, the party’s leader in the House, has won all 212 Democrat votes in every round of voting so far.

House reconvenes as speaker chase continues

It’s just after noon and the House is reconvening now to pick up the already tortuous quest to seat a speaker. But two Republicans at least won’t be there.

Congressman-elect Wesley Hunt of Texas is heading home to be with his premature newborn son.

“This has been a challenging week for the American people and for my family. A few days ago, my wife Emily gave birth to our son Willie, who was born premature and spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit.”

— Rep. Wesley Hunt Press Office (@RepWesleyHunt) January 6, 2023

Ken Buck of Colorado was reportedly taken ill on Thursday and left Washington DC to recuperate, after colleagues persuaded him it was OK to leave town.

The math remains uncertain for Kevin McCarthy’s attempts to get the 218 votes he needs, if indeed a 12th vote is to take place on Friday. The California Republican has, as we already know, lost 11 straight votes over three days so far.

Whether his allies will now seek to postpone any more voting and attempt to push the next vote into next week is yet to be seen. And if they do, will any such adjournment measure attract enough support to succeed?

We’re about to find out. 275 members are present this afternoon in the House, and business is just getting under way.

Biden: Jobs gains giving families ‘breathing room’

America’s employers added 223,000 jobs in December, according to a report released Friday morning.

The Associated Press suggests it’s evidence the economy remains healthy even as the Federal Reserve is rapidly raising interest rates to try to slow economic growth and the pace of hiring.

The White House, naturally, is crowing:

With companies continuing to add jobs across the economy, the unemployment rate fell from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching a 53-year low. The report suggested that the labor market may be cooling in a way that could aid the Fed’s fight against high inflation. Last month’s gain was the smallest in two years, and it extended a hiring slowdown for most of 2022.

In a statement, Joe Biden said the news was proof the country was “moving in the right direction”:

These historic jobs and unemployment gains are giving workers more power and American families more breathing room.

We have more work to do, and we may face setbacks along the way, but it is clear that my economic strategy of growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out is working.

The partner of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the January 6 attack on Congress, has sued Donald Trump, Victoria Bekiempis reports.

Sandra Garza alleges that the former president’s “campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric” about the 2020 presidential election motivated the mob, and played a “significant role in the medical condition” that killed the officer.

Sandra Garza.
Sandra Garza. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The lawsuit, filed in Washington DC federal court, names Trump and two other January 6 rioters who attacked Sicknick, and demands millions in damages. It was brought by Sicknick’s longtime partner one day before the insurrection’s second anniversary on Friday.

Garza alleges that Trump’s months-long refusal to recognize Joe Biden’s win spurred violence that proved fatal to Sicknick. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be Defendant Trump’s direct orders in service of their country,” the lawsuit states.

It added that Trump’s speech hours before the riot, urging people to “fight like hell”, was “the culmination of a coordinated effort to subvert the certification vote”.

“Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun,” the lawsuit states. “Trump did all these things solely in his personal capacity for his own personal benefit and/or his own partisan aims.”

The other two defendants are rioters Julian Khater and George Tanios, who were among those “engaged in a confrontation” with the police, including Sicknick, assigned to guard the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace. The rioters tore down barriers, and assaulted officers with hands, feet, and “other objects”, the lawsuit alleges.

Read the full story:

California’s governor Gavin Newsom, a rising star in the Democratic party, will be sworn in for his second term on Friday by comparing his leadership style to that of Republican governors and former president Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports.

Gavin Newsom.
Gavin Newsom. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Newson will lead a march to the state Capitol and deliver a speech, the news agency says, after he chose 6 January for the events to draw a contrast with the violent attack on the US Capitol two years ago today.

Newsom enters his second term with strong support from Californians but potential headwinds in the form of an expected budget deficit. He is widely seen as a future presidential candidate, though he says he plans to support Joe Biden in 2024.

During his second term he will have to tackle problems including an increase in gun crime and killings by police, and the climate emergency.

Punchbowl News is reporting that this morning’s Republican party conference call, in which Kevin McCarthy pleaded again for House colleagues’ support as he attempts to become speaker, was fruitful.

A tweet by Jake Sherman, the outlet’s founder, says McCarthy has struck a deal with Texas Republican Chip Roy, to bring some of the 20 rebels who have consistently voted against him, on board.

???NEWS— KEVIN MCCARTHY ANNOUNCES ON GOP CALL THAT HE AND CHIP ROY HAVE A DEAL

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 6, 2023

Subsequent tweets list some of the concessions McCarthy is reported to have made to appease the holdouts, including lowering the threshold for a “motion to vacate” to one. That would mean any single House member at any time could set in motion a process to oust the speaker.

Even if it’s confirmed, such a deal does not, of course, guarantee McCarthy the 218 votes he needs to overcome resistance from all those who have opposed him through three days and 11 votes so far.

The House reconvenes at noon, and as far as we know, there are still at least five Republican “Never Kevins” who could still derail the reported progress. Watch this space…

Congress marks ‘solemn day’ of January 6 riot anniversary

Hakeem Jeffries and Nancy Pelosi have just been leading an emotional commemoration on the steps of the US Capitol building to mark the “solemn day” of the second anniversary of the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.

Hundreds of Congress members, many in tears, flanked Jeffries, the new Democratic leader, as he paid tribute to the five law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the rampage of violence from a mob loyal to defeated president Donald Trump.

He said: “Many more will forever be scarred by the bloodthirsty violence of the insurrection of this mob.”

Hakeem Jeffries speaks before a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the US Capitol on the second anniversary of the deadly 6 January, 2021, riot.
Hakeem Jeffries speaks before a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the US Capitol on the second anniversary of the deadly 6 January, 2021, riot. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The ceremony included families of the fallen officers reading out their names, and concluded with 140 seconds of silence, one for each officer injured during the attack.

Jeffries led the event for the first time as Democratic leader and announced it was a bipartisan gathering of lawmakers. But there was no sign of Republican leadership, and many Republican House members were engaged in a simultaneous conference call with party leader Kevin McCarthy as he pleaded for their support in an upcoming 12th round of voting for the speakership.

CNN’s congressional reporter Kristin Wilson tweeted that only one Republican congress member was present, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

House members gather to mark the second anniversary of January 6th

Only one Republican member was present. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. pic.twitter.com/j2dLSeACNi

— Kristin Wilson (@kristin__wilson) January 6, 2023

Jeffries said:

We stand here today with our democracy intact because of those officers. Violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol and attempted to halt the peaceful transfer of power, a cornerstone of our republic. They failed.

They failed because of the bravery and valor of the United States Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department officers who fought heroically to defend our democracy. We will never forget their sacrifice and we will never forget this day.

Pelosi, who stood down as speaker after Republicans seized control of the House in November’s midterm elections, dabbed at tears as she listened to Jeffries remarks, and paid her own tribute to the officers:

The January 6 insurrection shook our republic to the core. For many in the Congress and across our country, the physical, psychological, and emotional scars are still wrong.

Yet from the unspeakable horror sprang extraordinary heroism. Law enforcement heroes confronted the insurrection is to protect the Capitol, the Congress and our Constitution.

A number of prominent politicians and others have taken to Twitter to express their thoughts on today’s second anniversary of the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection. Some are linking it to the current paralysis in Congress caused by Republicans’ failure to elect a speaker after three days and 11 votes.

Here’s Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the most recent speaker:

Tomorrow, we solemnly observe the January 6th Attack on the Capitol.

As we mark a day that threatened our Democracy, let us show our respect for the great institution of the Congress.

We must open the House and proceed with the People’s work.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 6, 2023

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss:

Any political leader who planned, abetted, praised or excused the violent attack on our Congress and Capitol of January 6, 2021, and that insurrection against our sacred democracy should never be trusted on the issue of law and order.

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 6, 2023

Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer:

This January 6th anniversary should serve as a wakeup call to the GOP to reject MAGA radicalism—which keeps leading to GOP failures.

But the pandemonium wrought by House Republicans this week is one more example of how MAGA radicalism is making it impossible for them to govern.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 6, 2023

Democratic New Jersey congressman Donald Norcross:

On #January6th 2021, rioters breached the Capitol, threatening the peaceful transition of power and democracy itself. Looking back at the footage I took gives me chills.

Two years later, I am more committed than ever to protecting our democracy. pic.twitter.com/2bVql6GfU4

— Congressman Donald Norcross ???? (@DonaldNorcross) January 6, 2023

The official Senate Democrats account:

Today marks two years since the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. We must defeat extremism and hold the Republicans who promote it accountable.

We will not forget January 6. pic.twitter.com/AyPIaPodtI

— Senate Democrats (@dscc) January 6, 2023

Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly January 6 Capitol riot. This afternoon, Joe Biden will award the nation’s second highest civilian honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal, to 12 people, including law enforcement officers and politicians, who resisted Donald Trump’s insurrection. Ed Pilkington reports:

Rusty Bowers, the former top Republican in Arizona’s house of representatives who stood up to Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and was punished for it by being unseated by his own party, is to receive America’s second-highest civilian honor on Friday.

Bowers will be among 12 people who will be awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by Joe Biden at the White House at a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the 6 January 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol. It will be the first time that the president has presented the honor, which is reserved for those who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens”.

Rusty Bowers.
Rusty Bowers. Photograph: Olivier Touron/AFP/Getty Images

All 12 took exceptional personal risks to protect US democracy against Trump’s onslaught. Many are law enforcement officers who confronted the Capitol rioters, others are election workers and officials in key battleground states who refused to be bullied into subverting the outcome of the presidential race.

Several of the recipients paid a huge personal price for their actions. Brian Sicknick will receive the presidential medal posthumously – he died the day after the insurrection having suffered a stroke; a medical examiner later found he died from natural causes, while noting that the events of January 6 had “played a role in his condition”.

Bowers’ award, first reported by the Deseret News, came after he refused effectively to ignore the will of Arizona’s 3.4 million voters and switch victory from Biden to Trump. As a result, he incurred the wrath of Trump, who endorsed a rival candidate in last year’s Republican primary elections.

David Farnsworth, the Trump-backed opponent, went on to defeat Bowers and usher him out of the Arizona legislature. Farnsworth is an avid proponent of the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, going so far as to tell voters that the White House had been satanically snatched by the “devil himself”.

Ahead of Friday’s ceremony, Bowers described the news of his award as “something of a shock”. He said that though some of his detractors were likely to denounce his call to the White House a political stunt, he thought it was designed to “create unity and put behind us the division of the past. I’m certainly in favor of that, no matter what.”

He added: “I don’t think this is to stir up division, it’s to honor those who stood up and did their job as best they could. And that’s kind of what America is about.”

Read the full story:

Reports: ‘Glimmers of hope’ for McCarthy deal

Kevin McCarthy’s team insists there has been progress in negotiations with the hard-right Republican rebels who have denied him the speakership through 11 straight votes, but whether it’s the breakthrough the California Republican so desperately needs is far from certain.

The House reconvenes at noon Friday in what has already been the lengthiest search for a speaker in 159 years, with an increasingly anguished McCarthy offering more concessions to the holdouts to try to secure the 218 votes he needs.

The Washington Post on Friday was among several media outlets reporting signs emerging of a possible deal to end the impasse yet, crucially, notes that while it reflects “considerable momentum” for McCarthy, the expectation is he “will not get all the votes necessary to become speaker”.

Moderate Republicans are also growing restless after three days of voting in which McCarthy has failed to show any progress towards the winning threshold, and a group of 20 House Republicans has consistently voted against him.

There is, therefore, something of a “make or break” feel to today’s proceedings.

One Republican lawmaker told Politico Playbook on Friday:

There is a limit to how much of this crap we can take.

The website reports mounting frustration among a sizeable number of others, some of whom want to be out of Washington DC to be with sick relatives, attend family funerals or meet new babies for the first time.

“There’s a lot more at stake than whether Kevin McCarthy’s going to be able to get the gavel,” the lawmaker told Playbook.

“We’ve got lives that are being impacted right now, and this is tough for people.”

The other area of concern is how much McCarthy seems to be giving away to the hardliners in order to make a deal.

The Post, and others, say he has now consented to reduce the threshold from five to one of the number of House members needed to raise a “vacate the chair” motion, making it easier for the speaker to be ousted.

Read more:

Good morning and happy Friday, US politics readers. The longest of weeks on Capitol Hill continues today with Kevin McCarthy still chasing the speakership after losing 11 straight House votes.

The California Republican’s team has been pleading with conservative holdouts overnight, trying to reach a deal to get him to the 218 votes he needs. But the troops are growing restless, and frustration among moderates is rising at how much control McCarthy seems willing to cede to the party’s extremist fringe.

“There is a limit to how much of this crap we can take,” one Republican lawmaker tells Politico’ Playbook after three days and nights of stalemate.

The circus tent opens again when the House reconvenes at noon, and we’ll know pretty soon thereafter if McCarthy has achieved any kind of breakthrough.

Also happening today:

  • It’s the second anniversary of the deadly January 6 Capitol riot. Joe Biden will present the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award, to 12 people, including law enforcement officers and politicians, who stood up to Donald Trump’s insurrection.

  • Security services are on high alert with several rallies planned to take place at or near the Capitol building. Democrats fear the safety of lawmakers and staff has been compromised by a weakening of security measures since Republicans won the House majority.

  • Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, will deliver her final briefing of the week at 12.45pm.