McCarthy Makes Headway, Flipping 14 Votes on 12th Ballot

Delivers on vow to 'make progress' in speaker battle

U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reacts to the cheers of his Republican colleagues as he is applauded after casting his own vote for himself to be the next Speaker of the House during a vote in the House Chamber on the first day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
January 6, 2023

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) on Friday delivered on his vow to make progress in his bid to become House speaker, flipping 14 Republican holdouts to his side during the 12th ballot vote of the week.

While McCarthy fell short of winning a majority of votes in the House, he cut the number of Republicans in the anti-McCarthy coalition from 21 down to 7, convincing key players among the holdouts including Reps. Chip Roy (R., Texas) and Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) to cast their votes his way. Friday's vote marked the first time this week that McCarthy tallied more votes than the House Democrats' leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.).

McCarthy's improvement in the vote margins, after three days of deadlocked ballots, came after he told reporters Friday morning that "we're going to make progress, we're going to shock you."

With Democrats united in supporting Jeffries, McCarthy can afford to lose only four Republican votes and still be elected speaker. After cutting the opposition down to seven members, McCarthy needs to flip three votes in order to reach the threshold for victory.

Flipping those holdouts could be a tall order for McCarthy—among the remaining opposition are the speaker hopeful's most ardent opponents, like Reps. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) and Andy Biggs (R., Ariz.), who have vowed not to support McCarthy.