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McCarthy looks set to lose 9th House Speaker vote: Watch live

McCarthy looks set to lose 9th House Speaker vote: Watch live

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After Kevin McCarthy failed to win enough votes to become Speaker of the House on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump held a conversation with Mr. McCarthy and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, one of the key Republican members of Congress blocking Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy.

Mr. Trump’s goal was to break the gridlock. But if Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Perry to flip quickly, that was not the case: The next day, Mr. Perry voted against Mr. McCarthy three more times.

Mr. McCarthy’s failure to garner enough votes this week underscored the limits of Mr. Trump’s political power in a party that has not controlled the Senate since 2018, lost the White House in 2020 and has so far failed to identify the next leader of their narrow majority in the House.

Even if Mr. McCarthy ultimately succeeds, Mr. Trump is once again struggling in his role as the supreme leader of his party. His handpicked candidates failed to usher in the red wave Republicans had hoped for in November’s midterm elections. His attempt to appoint a new Senate Republican leader was crushed. His third straight presidential campaign, launched six weeks ago, has come up short.

Now, Mr. Trump’s hold on many of his own loyal supporters in the House of Representatives has failed in the most public way and on the most public stage — a reminder that the rebellion in Congress is not so much a creature of his making but a force that which preceded him and helped fuel his political rise.

For more than a decade, a group of House Republicans has been trying to upset the leadership. The House Freedom Caucus grew out of the remnants of the Tea Party, playing a key role in ousting John Boehner in 2015 and blocking Mr. McCarthy’s efforts to become Republican leader at the time.

Today, most of the 20 Republicans who blocked Mr. McCarthy’s presidency are outspoken Trump loyalists, including several who have already effectively backed his bid for the White House in 2024. And even among them, a small group — including Mr. Mr Perry – have been involved in negotiations with Mr McCarthy’s team.

Congresswoman Lauren Bobert of Colorado, who unseated a fellow Republican in 2020 who she said was not supportive enough of Mr. Trump, openly defied the former president from the floor on Wednesday, saying he should tell Mr. n McCarthy to step down from the presidency rather than turn his attention to the rebels. In an interview later with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Ms. Boebert appeared to try to soften the blow, saying: “I love President Trump. You won’t turn me against him, you won’t turn him against me.

credit…TJ Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

And in another show of belated respect, Rep. Matt Goetz, Republican of Florida, who mocked Mr. Trump’s support for Mr. McCarthy on Twitter, voted on Thursday for Mr. Trump to be speaker of the House.

Mr. Trump supported Mr. McCarthy’s efforts for weeks and made separate rounds of calls to abstentions who strongly opposed the move. The former president appeared surprised that some of his loyal House aides did not respond, according to two people familiar with the calls who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Mr. Trump, who often tries to avoid limiting any options for himself, stopped making aggressive calls after that. But he was forced to be more public in his support than aides had planned when he picked up his ringing cellphone on Tuesday and gave a hushed comment to an NBC News reporter, prompting questions about whether he still supported Mr. McCarthy.

So he made a public statement on Wednesday morning. But even that failed to sway the 20 or so House members who railed against Mr. McCarthy.

“It’s a combination of them realizing that his influence isn’t what it used to be, and also that his heart doesn’t seem to be in it,” said Peter T. King, a former Republican congressman from Long Island.

If Mr. McCarthy pulls off a victory, Mr. Trump will point to it as evidence of strength, not weakness. But having entered the leadership race without a clear strategy, Mr. Trump’s failure to sway House Republicans underscored a new political reality for him. The weapon Mr. Trump used to dominate his party for seven years — fear of him — has waned.

“Trump’s fear factor has dropped like a rock this week,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist and former senior policy adviser at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. King agreed, adding: “I think they realized that he could help them, but he really couldn’t hurt them. I don’t think they fear him that much right now. We are a year, a year and a half away from the next primary.”

credit…Haiyun Jiang/New York Times

Still, some of Mr. McCarthy’s opponents suggested to Mr. Trump that they would change their vote if it was critical for the former president. But Mr. Trump ignored those suggestions and instead told reluctant lawmakers that they should continue negotiations to iron out their differences, according to a person familiar with the talks.

And while Mr. Trump has publicly declared his support for Mr. McCarthy, the former president has also privately acknowledged his disappointment with him.

Mr. Trump complained to some Republican lawmakers about pressure from Mr. McCarthy to censure him after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and spoke of his support for him in dispassionate terms.

“Kevin is not perfect,” Mr. Trump told lawmakers personally.

Still, Mr. Trump told them he considered Mr. McCarthy the only House Republican capable of winning enough votes to become speaker, the same reason advisers say he endorsed Mr. McCarthy on first place. When some asked whether they should trust Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Trump responded by saying they could remove him if they wanted to, under the new powers that Mr. McCarthy agreed to.


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