U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert along with nearly two dozen other hard-right Republican House lawmakers on Tuesday repeatedly rejected GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker of the House, forcing the chamber to adjourn for the day and plunging the opening day of the 118th Congress into political paralysis.
The vote for speaker went through three rounds without resolution, representing the first time in 100 years that a majority nominee for speaker failed to win an initial vote for the gavel. It also highlighted the deep divide that has developed within the Republican Party.
Boebert voted three times for Ohio Republican Jim Jordan for speaker. Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, the only other Republican House members from Colorado’s congressional delegation, three times voted for McCarthy, with Lamborn at one point shouting from the floor “as long as it takes.”
There were 19 votes against McCarthy in the first two rounds, and 20 in the third. All non-McCarthy votes in the second and third rounds went to Jordan. Jordan, himself, voted for McCarthy.
Boebert, who barely regained her seat to represent Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District in November, posted a video Tuesday morning on Twitter in which she claimed that McCarthy, of California, jettisoned a deal that had been put on the table the day before by a conservative faction of House Republicans to garner their support for his ascension to speaker.
“I have been working every day to unify the Republican Party for the American people and yesterday we had a deal that was not a selfish deal in any way for Kevin McCarthy to get him the gavel on the first ballot and he eagerly dismissed us,” Boebert told reporters Tuesday. “And now here we are — being sworn at instead of being sworn in.”
McCarthy said he would stay in the fight, pledging a “battle on the floor,” even if it takes multiple tries in a public spectacle that would underscore divisions in his party and weaken its leadership in the first days of the new Congress.
“We may have a battle on the floor, but the battle is for the conference and the country,” McCarthy said at the Capitol.
But in the end, the House voted to adjourn until 10 a.m. Mountain time Wednesday.
Republicans hold a slim 222-212 majority in the House, meaning that only a few holdouts in the caucus can obstruct the speaker vote. One core demand from the detractors is that McCarthy reinstate a rule that allows any single lawmaker to make a “motion to vacate the chair” — in short, to call a vote to remove the speaker from office.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that members of the House Freedom Caucus, which includes Boebert, are also demanding that McCarthy hold votes on a series of bills, including legislation that would require term limits for members of Congress, a balanced federal budget and fortifying security at the southwestern border.
The Times reported that before the vote, McCarthy privately made the case that the lawmakers opposing him were selfishly disrupting what was supposed to be a day of unity for their own personal gain.
“I earned this job,” he said.
The Times reported Boebert responded with an expletive.She later told a reporter she did not shout anything during the meeting, but would not say whether she had spoken up.
Meanwhile, Boebert on Tuesday celebrated the removal of metal detectors that had been installed at the entrance of the House chamber by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi two years ago.
In her first few days in office, Boebert had received criticism from Washington, D.C., police for releasing a video appearing to show her walking the streets of the capital city with a loaded gun.
Standing in front of a metal detector as it was being rolled away, Boebert in a video posted to Twitter said she was happy to see what she called “this hunk of garbage” being removed.
“And we are turning Pelosi’s house back into the people’s house,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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