GOP Infighting Throws US House into Chaos After McCarthy Loses Speaker Votes

The House of Representatives remains in chaos Wednesday after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s path to the speakership was derailed by a revolt from 10% of House Republicans.


The House of Representatives remains in chaos Wednesday after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s path to the speakership was derailed by a revolt from 10% of House Republicans.

  • The House adjourned without a speaker Tuesday night after three rounds of voting, the first time since 1923 the House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot. McCarthy fell far short of the necessary 218 votes on each ballot, while Democrats stayed unified behind their leader.
  • Twenty House Republicans voted against McCarthy on the third ballot, after nineteen opposed him on the first two ballots. While many of the rebels are members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, a majority of Freedom Caucus members voted for McCarthy on the floor.
  • McCarthy vowed to press ahead, and the fourth round of voting is scheduled to commence at noon on Wednesday. The stalemate has left the People’s House paralyzed as no business can be conducted until a speaker is chosen.
  • There does not appear to be an ideological dimension to the rebellion. One of the ringleaders, Florida Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz, even told McCarthy “I don’t care” if McCarthy or progressive House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries becomes speaker.
  • Adding insult to injury, Gaetz sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol demanding they look into McCarthy’s decision to move into the Speaker’s office as he has not been elected. Gaetz has not expressed similar concerns about his own office, even though he is not technically a member of Congress yet as there is no Speaker to swear in the 118th Congress.
  • The vast majority of House Republicans support Kevin McCarthy, and their disgust with the rebels was palpable Tuesday. Rep.-elect Don Bacon nicknamed the group the “Taliban 19,” while Rep.-elect Mike Rogers said they were “beyond redemption” and should be stripped of their committee posts.
  • Across the Capitol, Senate Republicans expressed support for McCarthy along with concerns the chaotic start to the term would make it difficult for the new G.O.P. majority to accomplish anything of substance.
  • Leading conservative voices are also concerned the 20 rebels are turning House Republicans into a “total clown show,” as Sean Hannity put it.
  • Former President Donald Trump also called on Republicans to “close the deal,” “take the victory,” and vote for McCarthy rather than turn “A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • POLITICO profiled the twenty anti-McCarthy Republicans, an eclectic mix of veteran rabblerousers, a few newly elected members, and perennial contrarians.
  • President Joe Biden weighed in on the “embarrassing” spectacle on Wednesday, per Axios. Biden washed his hands of McCarthy’s mess, saying the G.O.P. meltdown is “not my problem.”
  • The New York Times wrote the “historic debacle” illuminated the fissures dividing House Republicans and portends a disorderly, messy 118th Congress where Republicans may struggle to even accomplish the basic tasks of governing, let alone pass a policy agenda.



  • McCarthy plans on fighting for the speakership ‘til the last dog dies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The California Republican told reporters, “We’re staying in until we win,” and plans to wear down his opponents with an endless series of roll call votes.
  • Trump’s endorsement of McCarthy means little to the holdouts, per the Washington Examiner. Anti-McCarthy Rep.-elect Ralph Norman told the Examiner “I have not changed at all,” after Trump’s endorsement.
  • National Review published two contrary takes on the speaker contest. Jim Geraghty argued the fighting is merely “horse-trading over rank and ego” after the rebels were handily defeated in the conference-wide leadership vote in November. Dominic Pino believes “the GOP House infighting is fine,” an ugly if necessary consequence of independently-elected members weighing in on behalf of their constituents.


Return to Freespoke

© Dominic Moore, 2023