Kevin McCarthy Teases a Fourth-Vote Win With Less Than 218 Votes

The 118th Congress is back in session this Wednesday morning, with the House of Representatives’ first agenda item in play: casting another vote to elect a Speaker of the House. Until the Speaker’s role is filled, it will be the only item, as this house of Congress cannot conduct the people’s business until this is made complete.


Despite three ballots not weighing in his favor, GOP Leader and Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy is still confident that he will get the votes he needs to become the Speaker of the House, even if that means getting a vote count that comes close, but is below the threshold of 218.

From The Hill:

House GOP Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) expressed optimism about winning the gavel Tuesday night as he emerged from meetings with allied members following three failed ballots, floating the possibility of winning the post with fewer than 218 votes.

“You’re sitting at 202 votes, so you need technically just 11 more votes to win,” McCarthy said.

“Democrats have 212 votes. You get 213 votes, and the others don’t say another name, that’s how you can win. You can win with 218. You could win with 222. But if you want to look at how you have to go about doing it,” McCarthy said.

This is not unprecedented. I am old enough to remember when House Speaker emeritus Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Speaker of the House in 2021 with only 216 votes. In 2015, Former House Speaker John Boehner found himself in this same position and was still voted in as Speaker by the same vote margin. You see, the vote does not have to be among the entire 434 members of Congress, but a plurality. All it takes is a member’s absence or their voting “present.”


While McCarthy feels as though the issues that the members of the Freedom Caucus and the other 14 or so holdouts are using as a bargaining chip have been “resolved,” Rep. Byron Donalds, who added his number to the dissenting votes on the third round, tells a different tale. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade attempted to parrot the talking points given to him by his betters that McCarthy has worked with the dissenting members of the Republican caucus on these “small issues.” Donalds, ever the adept debater and focused on being a representative for the people of the United States, had this to say.

Despite all this, McCarthy still does not plan to withdraw himself from consideration and is exuding assurance that this is just an annoying pothole in an otherwise smooth road.

McCarthy is remaining defiant in the face of the opposition, saying multiple times that there is not a scenario in which he pulls out of the race for Speaker.

“It’s a little growth period that we have, but at the end of the day, all of this that we go through will make us stronger,” McCarthy said.


The next round of votes will be at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. We will see if McCarthy’s confidence is grounded in reality, or merely bluffing.


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