WASHINGTON — Republicans began their second day of controlling the House without a leader on Wednesday and were mired in deadlock over how to proceed after California Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost three votes to the top job amid a hard-right revolt. which has led to a historic battle on the residential floor.
Mr McCarthy’s back-to-back defeats on Tuesday marked the first time in a century that the House failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote, and it was not clear how or when the deadlock would be resolved. After a leaderless adjournment, the House was set to reconvene at noon on Wednesday to try to break the deadlock.
A mutiny of ultra-conservative lawmakers who stuck for weeks on their vow to oppose Mr. McCarthy paralyzed the chamber on the first day of Republican rule. divisions that threatened to render the party’s House majority ungovernable.
Mr McCarthy has vowed not to go back until he secures the post, raising the prospect of a grueling run of votes that could last for days.
“I’ll stay until we win,” said Mr. McCarthy told reporters Tuesday between the second and third ballots. “I know the way.”
House precedent dictates that members continue to vote until someone obtains the majority necessary to prevail. But until Tuesday, the House had picked a speaker on its first roll call vote since 1923, when the election covered nine ballots.
It was not clear how long it would take the Republicans to resolve their stalemate this time, or what Mr. McCarthy’s strategy, if any, was to bounce back from an embarrassing series of defeats. He worked into the night on Tuesday, surrounded by allies, to collect votes.
No viable challenger has emerged, but if McCarthy continues to flounder, Republicans could shift their vote to an alternative, such as his No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
On Tuesday, right-wing Republicans united behind Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, as an alternative to Mr. McCarthy, but Mr. Jordan, a former rival who has since allied himself with Mr. McCarthy, implored his colleagues to side with the California Republican instead.
But the party has so far refused to do so. Tuesday’s failed votes publicly showed the extent of Mr McCarthy’s opposition. With all members of the House present and voting, Mr. McCarthy must receive 218 votes to become speaker, leaving little room for Republican renegades as the party controls only 222 seats.
He fell short time and time again, receiving no more than 203 votes – far short of a majority and less than the votes received by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader whose faction remained behind him.