Third day without House speaker after McCarthy blocked by

Kevin McCarthy’s epic struggle to become House Speaker goes into third day

California Republican representative Kevin McCarthy is about to enter the third day of voting and negotiations as he continues his battle to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

He needs 218 votes, a majority of the House, to clinch the post and although his party holds the majority since their victory in last year’s midterm elections, McCarthy is being obstructed by up to 20 right-wing Republicans who either don’t want him as speaker or want to wring enough concessions out of him that they have huge power as rank and file lawmakers.

McCarthy has now failed to get a majority or even get closer to it in a total so far of six rounds of voting, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Nothing like this has happened in the House for a century – previous speakers got their ducks in a row, more or less, to ensure they were elected in the first round of voting.

The obstruction to McCarthy is being led by far-right GOP representatives, from the group calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. Even though they are ostensibly ultra fans of Donald Trump, staunch “Maga Republicans” (Trump’s Make America Great Again presidential campaign slogan that now stands for his base of most loyal supporters), they are shunning the former president’s call for the House GOPers to support McCarthy for speaker.

Without a speaker, no other House business can commence, including swearing in its own members.

Voting is expected to continue today, McCarthy is negotiating with his own rebels and so far has refused to back down and allow someone else from his side, such as right-winger Steve Scalise, to take his place as frontrunner for the speakership.

Kevin McCarthy takes vote losses to six as US House of Representatives adjourns again – video

Key events

North Carolina’s Republican representative Dan Bishop nominated Byron Donalds, a Florida lawmaker nominated by hard-right Republican representatives as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy.

“Yesterday, we could have elected the first black Speaker of the United States House of Representatives,” Bishop said of Byron, to which Democrats responded with cheers of “Hakeem! Hakeem!”, referring to Hakeem Jeffries, the Democrats’ nominee for House speaker.

“He ain’t no prop… He’s a man of personal conviction,” Bishop said of Donalds.

“This is the tired, old, grotesquely racist rhetoric that we have seen far too long,” he added.

Michigan’s Republican representative-elect John James nominated Kevin McCarthy for House speaker.

“I don’t need DC politicians to tell me about how broken DC is… The American people have already told us how broken DC is,” he said.

“The American people have told us…they want Republicans to lead,” he added.

“Right now, the people are left out. Right now, they don’t have a Congress to speak for them,” James said of the current impasse.

He also brought up the slavery debate regarding the “value of man,” which he described as “drawn out painful process, but it needed to happen.”

“He’s earned my trust,” James said of McCarthy. “We’ve come so far…you don’t fire a guy whose winning… We need to learn how to win… We need a conservative fighter to help this country get back on track.”

The House of Representatives has convened on Capitol Hill for the third time in attempts to elect a speaker.

Guardian readers, feel free to follow the House session via our livestream at the top of this page!

White House announces new border enforcement actions

President Joe Biden announced new border enforcement actions on Thursday, according to a statement released by the White House.

“These measures will expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways. They also draw on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully,” it said.

The Biden administration said that new consequences will be imposed onto individuals who attempt to cross the border unlawfully, including increasing the use of expedited removal.

“Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry,” the White House said.

The Biden administration will also expand the parole process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians and Cubans. Up to 30,000 individuals from these countries who have an eligible sponsor and pass venting and background checks can come to the US each month for a period of two years and receive worth authorization.

Meanwhile, Mexico will also be accepting the return of 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries who cross the border unlawfully.

The Biden administration said that it also plans to welcome up to 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during 2023 and 2024, in turn “putting the United States on pace to more than triple refugee admissions from the western hemisphere this fiscal year alone.”

As president Joe Biden prepares to deliver remarks at the US-Mexico border, some of the topics on his agenda include addressing border enforcement operations, as well as the record numbers of migrants escaping gang violence.

According to administration officials, Biden plans to ask Congress to fund his request for Department of Homeland Security resources and pass immigration reforms, PBS NewsHour’s White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López reports.

Biden plans to also make announcements regarding migrant parole programs, Barrón-López added.

Biden is announcing today expanded parole program for 30k migrants per month from Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela. Paired w/immediately expelling 30K migrants per month from same countries who unlawfully cross border

— Laura Barrón-López (@lbarronlopez) January 5, 2023

Kevin McCarthy has expressed optimism towards the impasse on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning – the third day of voting for the House.

“I think we’re making progress…We’re all working together to find a solution,” McCarthy told reporters as he entered the Capitol this morning, CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) enters the Capitol on January 5, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) enters the Capitol on January 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. Photograph: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Biden to discuss ‘security and enforcement’ at US-Mexico border

There is now talk that Joe Biden will make his first visit as US president to the US-Mexico border, next week, where fraught immigration laws are causing misery for migrants crossing into the US hoping to seek asylum.

Republicans have been making political hay out of the policy mess and the dysfunctional immigration system, as the number of migrants crossing the border unlawfully are at record levels.

While human rights advocates decry some of the anti-immigration strategies that are essentially being carried over from the Trump administration, and pro-immigration advocates argue that more immigration is very good for US society and business, Biden wants to talk the language of security.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the following:

The United States plans to accept up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela under a program paired with expulsions of people from those countries caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. and Mexican officials said.

The expanded humanitarian program would build on a policy launched in October that allowed thousands of Venezuelans to enter by air if they applied from abroad and could demonstrate they had a U.S. sponsor, two U.S. and one Mexican official said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Biden did not reply when asked which city he planned to visit although the news website Axios later reported he would visit El Paso, Texas, a border city that declared a state of emergency in December amid high levels of migrant arrivals.

Biden is scheduled to travel to Mexico City on Jan. 9 and 10 for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where he will meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Biden, who took office in January 2021, has struggled operationally and politically with record numbers of migrants caught crossing the US-Mexico border, and migration is expected to be on the agenda at the meeting.

In the speakerless House, the last holder of the gavel, Nancy Pelosi vented on Twitter last night about the indignity the chamber is suffering amid the GOP civil war and inability to elect a speaker.

All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body.

Sadly, Republicans’ cavalier attitude in electing a Speaker is frivolous, disrespectful and unworthy of this institution.

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

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 5, 2023

Here’s her tweet for the ages from January 3. After the midterm elections last November, where Republicans narrowly won control of the House, Pelosi announced she would not only automatically be vacating the gavel but that she would also step back from her leadership role of House Democrats, as did her lieutenant Steny Hoyer.

New York Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries is now the minority leader in the House and is the name that Democrats have been putting forward as their nominee for Speaker, over the last three days. Jeffries can’t win a majority without Republicans defecting to him and giving him a majority as a giant slap to Kevin McCarthy, and there’s no sign that a freaky thing like that’s going to happen.

It was my privilege today to gavel out the end of the 117th Congress — an extraordinarily productive session #ForThePeople.

I look forward to continuing to serve the people of San Francisco in the 118th Congress and will share more on this account. pic.twitter.com/IExmFl2i0H

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 3, 2023

Here is a list of the GOP members of congress who are a determined “hard no” on Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker, according to Politico.

They are representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, and Matt Rosendale of Montana, an unnamed source told the outlet.

McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes if he wants to reach a majority of 218 votes in the House to make him speaker. The House is currently speakerless and at an impasse.

Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw has called the GOP rebels “clowns.” As voting it set to begin again at 12pm ET today in the House, up to 20 Republicans are refusing to back McCarthy, as he frantically negotiates.

One wonders if he was especially nodding to Gaetz, who saw fit to tweet this joke that’s been doing the rounds.

Can McCarthy do it? He is expected to huddle with fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill this morning in an effort to win enough support to get a majority of votes to become speaker.

As of daybreak today, McCarthy has not given up.

McCarthy’s speakership bid is seeing a glimmer of hope after he and some of his critics had what both sides are describing as productive conversation.

He caved to most of his opponents’ demands, but its unclear if it’s enough to land him the speakership. https://t.co/xqQSi04oam

— POLITICO (@politico) January 5, 2023

But as Politico outlines, at the rate his concession-making is going, rank-and-file far right House rebels will have crushing power over him if he becomes speaker.

McCarthy is currently still backed by Donald Trump and, now, another famous face, Elon Musk.

Lauren Gambino

Lauren Gambino

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day – again,” said Congresswoman Kat Cammack of Florida, nominating Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House on the sixth ballot.

But as he had five times before, McCarthy suffered yet another humiliating defeat at the hands of 20 hard-right Republican holdouts determined to block his rise.

McCarthy vowed to forge ahead. But it was clear Republicans were growing weary of the once-in-a-century spectacle that has already tainted the opening days of their new House majority. Despite three rousing speeches endorsing his candidacy on Wednesday, his prospects seemed dimmer than ever.

Congresswoman Victoria Spartz, a Republican from Indiana, changed her vote to “present” after supporting McCarthy on the first three rounds of ballots. She implored her party to “stop wasting everyone’s time” with endless rounds of balloting that were not changing any minds.

“Let cooler, more rational heads prevail,” pleaded Congressman Warren Davidson, a Republican from Ohio and a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, in a speech urging support for McCarthy.

Moments later, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, another member of the Freedom Caucus and a conservative rabble-rouser from Colorado, called on her “favorite president” – Donald Trump – to level with McCarthy. Trump, she said, should tell the Republican leader: “Sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.”

But McCarthy remained hopeful that a third day of balloting would yield a different result.

Read more of this report here.

Despite fevered negotiations on Capitol Hill, Kevin McCarthy failed to increase the number of votes he garnered from his own side yesterday and is far short of the majority he needs to clinch the speakership.

We’re in uncharted territory in modern times in Washington and it’s not yet clear how today will go for the Republicans, who are narrowly in control of the House but can’t agree on a speaker.

If McCarthy doesn’t get a majority or drop out today and the mess goes into a fourth day tomorrow it will be an epic symbol of failure as the House convenes without a speaker on January 6, the second anniversary of the Capitol attack by extremist and violent supporters of Donald Trump, who tried in vain to do the-then president’s bidding and stop the official certification by Congress of Joe Biden’s presidential victory in the 2020 election.

Kevin McCarthy’s epic struggle to become House Speaker goes into third day

California Republican representative Kevin McCarthy is about to enter the third day of voting and negotiations as he continues his battle to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

He needs 218 votes, a majority of the House, to clinch the post and although his party holds the majority since their victory in last year’s midterm elections, McCarthy is being obstructed by up to 20 right-wing Republicans who either don’t want him as speaker or want to wring enough concessions out of him that they have huge power as rank and file lawmakers.

McCarthy has now failed to get a majority or even get closer to it in a total so far of six rounds of voting, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Nothing like this has happened in the House for a century – previous speakers got their ducks in a row, more or less, to ensure they were elected in the first round of voting.

The obstruction to McCarthy is being led by far-right GOP representatives, from the group calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. Even though they are ostensibly ultra fans of Donald Trump, staunch “Maga Republicans” (Trump’s Make America Great Again presidential campaign slogan that now stands for his base of most loyal supporters), they are shunning the former president’s call for the House GOPers to support McCarthy for speaker.

Without a speaker, no other House business can commence, including swearing in its own members.

Voting is expected to continue today, McCarthy is negotiating with his own rebels and so far has refused to back down and allow someone else from his side, such as right-winger Steve Scalise, to take his place as frontrunner for the speakership.

Kevin McCarthy takes vote losses to six as US House of Representatives adjourns again – video

Speakerless House enters third day of Republican chaos

Good morning, US politics live blog readers, as we set out on another day of high drama in Washington. Congressional Republicans narrowly won control of the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections but have failed to agree amongst themselves who to elect as Speaker of the House, after two days of voting rounds where Kevin McCarthy did not get the necessary majority.

Stick with us as we cover today’s developments as they happen. Here is what’s on the political agenda:

  • The House will go back into session at 12pm ET today and the battle to become Speaker will resume. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has now been through six rounds of voting since Tuesday afternoon and failed to win a majority despite the party having control of the chamber. This is unprecedented in at least a century of US politics.

  • Kevin McCarthy is expected once again to hold frantic meetings this morning prior to the House session. The California Republican is going through an epic political trauma that is not only bad for him but makes the Republicans look useless as civil war rages in the party.

  • No other House business can begin until the chamber has a speaker. That means lawmakers have not been sworn in for the 118th Congress that began on January 3, including all the brand new representatives elected for the first time in the midterms.

  • McCarthy is still negotiating, hoping to offer enough concessions to the 19 or 20 rightwing rebels on his own side who refuse to vote for him. With the narrow GOP majority he can only afford to lose four GOP votes if the Democrats all continue turning up and voting for their guy, House minority leader and New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who took over the position from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • Elsewhere, at 11.15am ET, Joe Biden, accompanied by his vice-president Kamala Harris, is due to make remarks on the situation at the US-Mexico border, where confusion and tension about amid the upholding of the public health measure Title 42 that continues to act as a harsh anti-immigration tool and is causing misery for migrants on both sides of the border. Notably, instead of billing the remarks as focusing on humanitarian issues and improving the US’s dysfunctional immigration legal system, the White House has billed the remarks as being about “border security and enforcement.”