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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
House Voting On Motion To Adjourn After 11th Speaker Vote; Interview With Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN); House Votes To Adjourn Until Noon Tomorrow After McCarthy Fails On 11th Speaker Vote; McCarthy On Speakership Vote: "I'm Not Putting A Timeline". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 05, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): We have a Speaker of the House to hold on to the farthest right.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, well, Congressman Khanna, I appreciate your time. Always appreciate speaking to you.
KHANNA: Thank you. Thank you.
BURNETT: Okay. All right, good night, sir.
And thanks so much to all of you.
Waiting for this vote, going to find out, adjourn or not: A crucial test for Kevin McCarthy in our special coverage of that vote and Vote for Speaker continues now with AC 360.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening, along with Jake Tapper in Washington, DC, we are watching the House of Representatives' longest running drama since the Civil War era. Republicans failing time and time again, 11 times so far to elect Kevin McCarthy Speaker.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Eleven times. The latest vote though, not only on that, on merely on whether to adjourn and end Kevin McCarthy's rolling humiliation for this evening.
COOPER: CNN's Manu Raju has new reporting on the state of play tonight. He joins us now from the Capitol.
So Manu, first of all, if they adjourn for the evening, what happens then?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, then negotiations will continue and actually, the motion to adjourn is a good sign for Kevin McCarthy who has had one bad result after another, eleven straight times being rejected, not being able to get a majority of the House to elect a Speaker, paralyzing this institution at the start of the 118th Congress. That is a first order of business.
If they can't elect a Speaker, then they can adjourn. That's really the only two options, but they need a majority of the House to adjourn. They've wanted to adjourn. Kevin McCarthy all day long has wanted to adjourn this House in order to allow for negotiations to happen.
But Democrats didn't allow him to do that. They wanted to see him fail time and time again. And some Republicans, those holdouts would not give them the votes either.
So as a result, McCarthy has had to go through this experience and seeing him losing time and time again. But behind the scenes, there have been furious negotiations happening to try to come to some sort of resolution between a handful of McCarthy detractors and McCarthy allies, try to give things that members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, in particular have demanded, to give them more leverage over the speakership, to give them more sway over the legislative process.
Those negotiations have happened from last night, beyond and through the course of the day. And behind closed doors, Kevin McCarthy was with a number of key negotiators, key holdouts on both sides and I spoke to several of them.
They all are sounding very positive that they are coming to some sort of resolution. They said, one of them, Patrick McHenry, very close to Kevin McCarthy said that they are moved closer than they have been over the last couple of days.
He says that they have been talking a lot about how to implement what they say is a conservative agenda, the process for doing that. That has been the nature of a lot of the discussions today, but they believe they can get there, which is why are having this vote to adjourn right now, because those conservative holdouts appear likely to give them the votes to finally adjourn the House for the day to get to tomorrow, in order to negotiate through the night tonight, into tomorrow to see if McCarthy can finally get the votes.
But Anderson, McCarthy almost certainly will not get the votes tomorrow, because several of his members, at least four are leaving town for certain issues. So, he is going to fall short under 218, which means that is very likely this gets pushed into the next week.
COOPER: So Manu, just in terms of what we're looking at right now on the screen. Just a couple of minutes remaining, these are Republicans, Democrats, Independents voting on whether or not to adjourn, it is a simple majority that's needed to adjourn, correct?
RAJU: That is correct. It is a simple majority of those who are present and voting and there are five who are not voting. Right now, Republicans have 216 votes, 212. There are five Republicans who have not showed up presuming that two of them do show up and give them the votes that should be enough to call it, but if the clerk here comes down with the gavel now, that's probably enough, given the no votes here, to get to adjourn.
they would not be having this vote, the Republican leadership, if they didn't think they were going to have the votes to adjourn. So you can assure that this is almost certainly going to pass here, but still, it does not mean even if they get this deal, that does not mean that Kevin McCarthy has 218 votes.
In fact, he will have more work to do. There are other holdouts who have not been party to this negotiation. We have other issues that McCarthy will have to resolve. So that is why we are looking at several more days potentially of this to see if McCarthy can finally get there -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, appreciate that.
Let's go back to Jake. Jake, while we watch the vote.
TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.
Joining us now, Indiana Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz who has been voting present for the last few days. She did so again tonight.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. You voted for Kevin McCarthy in the first three votes, but then for the last eight, you voted present.
You told me that you were voting present yesterday because you wanted to see negotiations happen and you were trying to take a step back and give the rebels and the McCarthy forces time to negotiate.
It sounds like the McCarthy people have been making offer after offer, and McCarthy has been acquiescing on issue after issue. Why are you still voting present?
REP. VICTORIA SPARTZ (R-IN): I think it's important for us to have this conversation because I think we do have a responsibility to elect the Speaker, but we have to talk to each other.
So I think, I believe we are making progress. It's very good to have a progress. And honestly, you know, we need to come together because we have to govern and Republicans in the House to make a difference with each other.
So if Kevin is able to get us, you know, in the small group talks, then great. If not, we can go back as a conference and have this discussion.
So you know, I think it's important, and I truly believe we have some positive movement and having these talks, then we will come up with a Speaker.
TAPPER: Are you open at all to voting for someone else? Perhaps the number two House Republican, Steve Scalise for Speaker if McCarthy were to withdraw his name from consideration?
SPARTZ: So I will be personal to tell you something, that I am not worried as much about personality, worry about this institution and the processes. I think there are a lot of good things happening as part of this job because we do not want to be a dictatorship. Each of us represent equal amount of people and we need to be able to have an equal input on issues. So I think it's actually even beneficial to Democrats.
SPARTZ: If we reform this institution, so I'm not worried about it as much. Honestly, I don't even mind. We can just put all names and let God decide, put it in a hat, and just pick a person because it's not about the person, it is about this institution and us to start governing, and I think that what matters a lot if we have the right rules.
TAPPER; Let me interrupt -- let me interrupt for one second. I apologize, Congresswoman, but they just -- the clerk this gaveled down and the vote is over, and the yeas have it. There will be the motion to adjourn. It will pass by 219 to 213. So the House will adjourn until tomorrow at noon. Let's listen in.
CHERYL L. JOHNSON, CLERK, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: ... the nays are 213. The motion is adopted.
Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until noon tomorrow.
TAPPER: All right, I apologize, Congresswoman. I just wanted to bring that news as it was happening. So you are going to adjourn until noon tomorrow. So, I won't keep you too much later.
But what concessions are there left for Kevin McCarthy to give? Already, I have heard from several Members of Congress about the fact that it is going to be so difficult to legislate whoever the Speaker is, because McCarthy has given on so many items for must pass bills, such as funding the government or raising the debt ceiling.
Congress is likely going to be in a position where Democrats, the 212, Democrats vote to sign a discharge petition, and then six or seven, whatever responsible Republicans will do so as well to force must pass bills onto the floor of the House, because the concessions Kevin McCarthy has made is going to make it so must pass bills are going to be blocked in committee because so much power is being given to these rebels.
It doesn't seem like he has much to give beyond that.
SPARTZ: I don't want to comment on the details because I haven't seen what was discussed. And I think it would be good for us to hear what is discussed. And before anyone will make final decisions, we will hear it as a conference.
But legislative process should never be easy. Laws should never be easy. We shouldn't be producing legislation without deliberation and debate and looking into things.
So it shouldn't be just a top down shoved to everyone and force everyone to vote. This is not how legislative process works. Open process is tough, but that is what we came here to do and we have to be able to do it.
I think it's important for us to get back to business, so we have a proper oversight on the executive branch and a lot of other important issues. But people shouldn't be afraid to take votes and then make people know where they stand on issues.
So it's not a bad thing, but I don't want to comment on any specific rules, because I haven't seen them and it wouldn't be informed commentaries that I could make.
TAPPER: No, I hear you. But I guess what I'm saying is what I'm hearing from House Republicans and allies of Kevin McCarthy is that they feel like all of these rule changes are making it so -- that it has gone beyond democratizing and liberalizing the voting process and the legislative process and the amendment process, and it has gone into a place where there will be the tyranny of the minority, where these rebels will be able to force votes quickly on whether or not to get rid of a Speaker or to prevent legislation that can pass the House of Representatives from even coming up for a vote.
That that's how much -- that's the fears that I'm hearing from your House Republican colleagues, that that is the territory we're entering.
SPARTZ: Well, I think we should make a judgement before we see it, and I honestly, before we are deliberating discussions in the conference, and these rule changes, no one is going to come to the decision.
So all sides will be able to deliberate and address issues and concerns before any changes are made, so I don't worry about that. And if there are some legitimate concerns like that, we'll have to hear how it is going to be addressed.
But I don't worry about that right now. I just want to make sure that we are talking to each other and we are having these discussions because it's important, it is part of resolutions, it's important for us to talk to each other.
And then, you know, a lot of people have different opinions, but only people in the room really know what's happening and until they come to a consensus and everyone else see what's happening, it is going to be a transparent process, no one is going to enforce the rules on anyone. So we'll have to be addressing it as a group of people.
TAPPER: One last question before you go, Congresswoman, because you have a unique perspective as the only Ukrainian born Member of Congress. I've heard you some of your Republican colleagues, to me and to others, talking about how this chaotic process is helping authoritarians make the argument that democracy is so messy and complicated.
It is dysfunctional autocracy, that this is all proving autocracy is a better way to go. I know you disagree with that, I disagree with it. But as somebody who has grown up in Eastern Europe, do you think that that is true, that this messiness is making it easier for dictators to make the argument that democracy is not worth the effort?
SPARTZ: Well, I can tell you one thing, democracy is never easy. This process is hard. They're meant to be hard. But I would never take changes for anything else.
If you live in a dictatorship, if you live under tyranny, you know, what it means to have freedoms and that's why Ukrainian people are now dying for freedoms, and don't want to go back to that.
Sometimes we have to really learn from some lessons and really remember how many people die for our freedoms, so we are going to be fighting for our Republic, and I think part of deliberation, it is to have this discussion.
So, I think they're healthy. Better have them now than later, and I think we will come up with a Speaker and we will start governing, I promise you.
TAPPER: All right, Congresswoman Spartz, it is always good to see you. Thank you so much.
SPARTZ: Thank you.
TAPPER: With me here, minus only "Groundhog Day's" Andy McDowell is CNN's Audie Cornish and Dana Bash and Kasie Hunt and Jamie Gangel and David Chalian.
So thank you so much one and all for being here. Jamie, I don't know what you are hearing, but I am starting to hear from Kevin McCarthy allies, a note of resignation and defeat, not that McCarthy is there, but an acknowledgment in what they are saying along the lines of, well, this is going to be really tough for whoever the next Speaker is.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: We have heard this in bits and pieces along the way. They'll say we're for Kevin McCarthy, and then the magic word, but -- everybody has been prepared that this simply may not work out.
I'm hearing something else from Kevin McCarthy allies, and maybe some people who are not strong allies, but people who have been voting for them and I call it concession regret, which is something the congresswoman just told you, Jake, she doesn't know what's being promised away in that room.
And there is real concern, we have seen historic dysfunction, at least in the modern era, and there is real concern that the promises that Kevin is making, to try to get in enough votes to get it down to four are going to lead to a disaster down the road.
TAPPER: Well, so, a frank question because you're a former Hill correspondent, as am I, as are you. What do you think the ads are that I know more about the discharge petition situation about what this next Congress is going to look like than more than a lot of these Republican House members? KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I don't think a lot of these House Republican -- these -- no, I mean, yes. You know, more than a lot of them do. We all do.
TAPPER: Two hundred and twelve Democrats are going to go have to go into a room, sign a discharge petition, six other Republicans are going to have to join him to get what's called must pass legislation onto the floor of the House because of all of these concessions.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, look, Jake, the bottom line is that they are trying to make changes to the House Republican process or to the -- excuse me, the House -- the functioning of the House process that ultimately could make the entire chamber and perhaps the country ungovernable depending on the situation. I mean that is what's going on here.
And if you listen, I think the way Matt Gaetz put it in a FOX interview was to say, well, I'm never voting for him. But in the meantime, we're constructing a straitjacket for Kevin McCarthy, which is essentially what's going on, whoever ends up being the Speaker here is not going to have any room to move, any room to do anything.
And the reality is, we don't function without this chamber functioning as a country. Now, maybe that's the point for some of these people, but I think it's pretty dangerous.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I'm seeing some tweets from people like Jason Crow, talking about National Security implications of this. Nicole Malliotakis, Republican from New York talking about the fact that she has constituents who have problems with fraud, identity theft, and the IRS is telling them, we can't help you because of Congress.
The ripple effects into people's actual lives, never mind the sort of disbelief that they've elected adults to this place called the House of Representatives who can't get their act together even to elect a Speaker is growing, and it will continue to grow.
TAPPER: Audie, why do you think that we haven't heard from any of the potential 2024 Republican candidates other than Donald Trump, on this issue? Matt Gaetz is from Florida, why is his Governor not talking about this?
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Right.
TAPPER: Why are the Asa Hutchinson's and the Nikki Haley's and all the other possible 2024 candidates not saying anything?
CORNISH: I mean, first of all, it is a lose-lose to touch this with a 10-foot pole.
Ron DeSantis, who actually originated out of the House Freedom Caucus way back when, he actually gave his second term, sort of back to Florida speech, which sounded a lot like a campaign speech, which very much nodded at the dysfunction in Washington. It's extremely important for politicians outside of Washington to underscore that at any given moment, all the time, because that's how you get to write in and be the savior come election time, right?
David, like to say, like, look at me, I'm the outsider. So you don't want to go near this. There's no incentive to do that. Even Trump, in a way, I think, is staying as far away from this as he can.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, the Republican Party is a mess right now on everyone's screens. If I was advising a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, I would take exactly what you just said, don't touch this with a 10-foot pole. There is nothing to gain here for you, just be apart from this.
Because otherwise, you become part of this picture of the mess, as we've seen with the one declared Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
HUNT: You know, it's interesting, too, because what they're setting up here is heading into like, let's not forget, we're about to start the presidential election season in earnest, and so, this is going to be a problem for the party that is going to extend way beyond just the floor of this House.
Because, I mean, imagine, the debt ceiling is supposed to expire in August, let's say they can get someone you know, with that Speaker's gavel. That's a huge pressure point. Absolutely critical. The stock market will -- I mean, the last time you know something major financial was threatened, I remember seeing you at the Capitol actually, when TARP failed, initially, the financial bailout failed. The stock market tanked.
You're going to see potential impacts like that, just as Republicans potentially are trying to pick a nominee. I mean, the setup for the party --
CHALIAN: And then they will have to talk about it.
HUNT: They will.
CHALIAN: The candidates will have to show an opportunity there for leadership what you're describing, Jake, but for this mess?
HUNT: My point is, this just extends out for the party.
BASH: It does extend out, but if you think about the people who have the real ambition, take Donald Trump out of what I'm about to say, to be President, there are Governors. They can legitimately keep what is happening here in Washington at arm's length and say, I'm the CEO of my state. I know how to do this. So in some ways, if you talk about the Republican electorate, this might provide a nice contrast.
CORNISH: It's such a fascinating place to be and if you think about a year ago, it was this idea that like, the red wave is coming, the red tsunami is coming. The economy is bad, we're going to ride in and fix it. Even the Dobbs decision. Obviously for conservatives, that was a win.
And now here we are all the way towards the end of the year, Marjorie Taylor Greene, of all people is touting Kevin McCarthy. I mean, this is someone who was threatening him going into January, right, and all of a sudden she's like, you're irrational, guys --
BASH: And trashing Lauren Boebert.
CORNISH: Yes, and trashing Lauren Boebert, get it together. They've got the majority and yet it feels like they don't. That's not the picture you want to show the electorate when you're claiming that you've just won a mandate of some sort by winning back the House.
CHALIAN: We should note one thing, Jake, so since Tuesday, we've seen Kevin McCarthy make zero progress on the House floor in votes.
GANGEL: The other direction.
CHALIAN: Except for this adjournment vote. I know this sounds crazy, but last night there were four Republicans who joined with Democrats refusing to vote for adjournment, not trying to give Kevin McCarthy the ability to --
TAPPER: Make a deal.
CHALIAN: Make a deal and get his troops together and what have you.
Tonight, it was apparently just one Republican. I don't know which one. I don't know if we've seen that yet, who voted with all the Democrats to avoid adjournment.
Now, that is an absurd marker for Kevin McCarthy to sort of claim that as a victory, but literally other than reports of closed door progress, this is the only physical progress we've seen in a vote tally in something he wanted on the House floor since Tuesday.
GANGEL: Can I just say a Republican Member of Congress said to me about this, never underestimate when they get hungry and they want to go.
HUNT: They are tired and for sleep, yes.
BASH: Or when their plane ticket says it is time go.
GANGEL: It is Friday, right.
TAPPER: So there is a pool going on in the makeup room about how long this is going to last and we don't -- I don't have to ask you what you voted for. But, you know, just looking at the history of this, which I have had time to do on the microfiche that Dana has referred to.
There are only several -- there are only a few ways in which this kind of thing gets resolved. One of them is changing the rules. That's how they got -- that's how they ended the 133 vote, one that lasted two months, and 64 votes, which is requiring a plurality instead of a majority. One of them is finding a consensus candidate, and one of them is just grinding it out.
I'm kind of the belief that this is going to be a grind out, that it's just going to go and go and go until somebody blinks.
GANGEL: How many ballots did you -- go ahead, give it up? What did you say in the pool, Jake? Go ahead. How many -- you missed the pool. Jake?
HUNT: Here, you can do it right now.
TAPPER: We started it just recently.
GANGEL: Jake, how many ballots did you I say?
TAPPER: I said 29, but that's because I kept going back and forth between 39 and 19, and then finally I just made a compromise. But just because I think ultimately, I mean 29 until they get a Speaker, not 29. I mean, like that's not to say Kevin McCarthy is going to last until 29 or that he won't, maybe he will.
But I just think they seem very, very dug in. And there seem to be at least five or six House Republicans that will never vote for Kevin McCarthy. And I can't understand how those five or six are going to change or even if it's only five, like he needs -- he can only lose four. Right? So I mean, I don't know if you voted.
GANGEL: So I guess 20, I was a little more optimistic. But everybody I speak to, all the Republican members that I'm talking to, they are all saying they don't see the math to get him there. They don't know necessarily who number five or six or seven is of the Never Kevin's, but they believe that there are more than four, and they think it's personal and they don't think anything will change their mind.
TAPPER: Yes, and it is possible that if there were a candidate, like Steve Scalise, and we'll talk about that next time we come back here but if there were a candidate like Steve Scalise, maybe that would be enough. Maybe the rebels would think like we got our pelt, it's on the wall. Let's move forward. But who knows? I don't know.
I mean, people like Lauren Boebert have said, Anderson, they don't want anybody in House leadership, that includes Steve Scalise.
COOPER: It is the difference between the New York makeup room and the DC makeup room. There is no pool in New York, yet, so who knows by tomorrow, there may be.
Jake, appreciate it. Let's continue the conversation --
TAPPER: The makeup room also has windows. I am not sure with New York City.
BASH: Hey, Jake. You wear makeup?
COOPER: We will check back in with you guys shortly. Let's continue the conversation. David Urban, I mean, to the question that Jake raised, which is, is there something -- how do those five or the holdouts get?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Since noon this afternoon, I've been saying the same thing, right?
COOPER: It's a whole new audience.
URBAN: I know. I just don't --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Say it in French.
URBAN: Those five or six are never going to come along. I think the best you're going to hope for is you get some folks to vote present, and you know, you close the doors in the caucus and the pressure of your fellow Republicans. They say listen, you don't have to be for us, just don't be against us. You can claim you can claim you didn't vote for Kevin and, you know, he gets elected with a reduced margin, but we're still enough and he gets to be Speaker.
I don't think you're going to get Matt Gaetz and I don't think you're going to get Lauren Boebert and I'm not sure who -- there is one or two others that are definitely hard no's, but I think I agree with Jake, you're going to grind it out.
You're not going to get the rule change, and I don't think Steve Scalise -- I don't -- why would Steve Scalise want to wade into this mess right now?
COOPER: Why would anyone?
URBAN: Why would he say like, okay, great. Congratulations. You're the captain of the Titanic. All right, good luck.
AXELROD: Well, at some point in the not too distant future, he may just have to take the wheel here because the way these rules, if they are, and we don't really know. Nobody has actually seen them. We know it's been reported, but the way it's structured, this is going to be a highly unstable situation.
And, you know, Kevin McCarthy, if he wins this marathon fight to become Speaker, ultimately, it would be one of the shortest lived Speakers that we've seen, because of the authority that he's handed to his opponents to try and vacate the Chair if they don't like what he's doing.
URBAN: You know, August, you know, that will be the next big battle.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in the spring, I mean, they have to do a budget right, which then allows them to do the Appropriations Bills, which they've all said they want to do individually and not in a in a big package.
And so there are a lot of internal policy debates to come tactically, and technically tonight of these 20 holdouts. What has never been clear is are there five, never ever evers? Or are there six or seven, right? Because I would submit there's a big difference between five and eight.
JENNINGS: We've heard a range. If there is five, he can afford to lose four. Well, if there's five than every single one of them can lay claim to the title of I am the one thing standing between, you know, Kevin McCarthy and his Speakership. And so it's just the math of it has never been quite clear.
When I saw him in the room tonight meeting with all these people. I took that as a good sign. The motion to adjourn passing was a good sign. But I don't know, I guess I'll just take the other side of that argument, David. You put them in a room and ask them to vote present. That is still giving in and they've been so strident. How do you come down off that pace?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, this is the thing today, we have said, McCarthy's argument is we can't let them win. But now you can see them saying now that they've adjourned, we can't win with you. Right?
And so maybe it's a good sign, but the fundamentals for McCarthy have not shifted, the numbers have not really shifted for him. So it's also possible that what's going on, and if we're going to just continue to hypothesize is that some of those folks in the middle are starting to come around to the idea, we can't win with Kevin McCarthy, we've got to find another way forward if we're going to end this thing and not continue to do even more damage to the Republican Party and to the brand.
URBAN: That's not going to be swift and painless, either, right?
URBAN: That's not going to -- that's going to require a whole another conclave of -- you know, if you were to say, well, it can't be anybody in leadership, right? Because that's been the pronouncement of the 20. We're not going to let anybody in leadership, but then you go to, okay, well, who's next in that, you know, and Ro Khanna put forth some names, right, but you know --
JENNINGS: I am sure, there'll be looking to him for recommendations.
URBAN: But I mean, if you start looking at kind of moderates, who knows where we're going to go right after that? Because it's going to be a jump ball.
COOPER: Also, I want to bring in CNN's newest senior political commentator, former Illinois Republican Congressman and January 6 committee member Adam Kinzinger.
Congressman Kinzinger, it's good to have you with us. What do you make of this mishigas? ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's a mess. I think my biggest worry just for the country is not really the ballot after ballot, and that's just democracy. That's a process. Everybody is learning kind of House rules now. It is, what is Kevin willing to give up? Because I think what we're seeing in some of these -- we don't even know what a lot of these rule changes are, but for instance, one person to vacate the chair, it's going to create chaos, as we've been talking about.
Here is the thing that I think we have to take. When he talks about the five or six that are kind of Never Kevins. What's their motivation? So of the 21 that are voting against Kevin, a significant number of those, like, they really believe I would disagree with it, but they believe this is a way to get to whatever their end goal is.
There are a number of people, particularly these five or six that enjoy being in this position. They relish being the one standing up, being the ones kind of throwing a wrench in this and that's what I think the concern is, is if they end up being only five, that's probably for them even a better situation because they can get more attention.
Look at like, Matt Gaetz, you know, nominating Donald Trump, and I think -- I know some of those folks, and I can tell you, they enjoy being the five of the six people that are going to deny Kevin the speakership and it doesn't even have to be because it's Kevin, it's because they can be the ones to do it.
COOPER: And the idea of -- that you might get some of them to at least vote present, so this can finally resolve itself.
KINZINGER: I think it's possible if you get to like ballot 50 or 70, but I think by then, I think enough, and this is kind of what we have to now start watching what you guys have been discussing is how many folks in, I'll just say it's the middle generically of your average kind of Republican Member of Congress is going to be worried about what's been given.
They're going to realize that at this point, you're really picking a person over the health of the party and by extension, the health of the country, and you start floating alternative names.
Once alternative names start getting floated by, we'll call them the regular Members of Congress, for lack of a better term, I think Kevin is done at that point in the House floor.
It's the problem with some of these folks that have pledged only Kevin. I understand the purpose, it's like, hey, we're as committed as you guys are, but you have to have an out because this could grind on forever, and I don't think Kevin can win in the long run.
URBAN: I was going to say, Congressman, that assumes it. So, the 20, right? Let's just say they've been offered something. The toothpaste is out of the tube and this, right. So, how do you put it back in? Right. So, how do you put it back in now and say, you know, Congressman, your point is like, we're going to get somebody else. But the 20, if you're Chip Roy and these folks, you're going to say, well, wait --
AXELROD: Yes. We've cash our (INAUDIBLE) --
URBAN: -- we just negotiated this. The new person is going to come in and say, yes, that was with the old guy, not with me. So, you know, if he comes out.
KINZINGER: Well, I know -- I think you're completely right. I don't know how let's just use Scalise as an example. Let's say he comes forward and says, now I want the motion to vacate the chair, not to be one person. They're not going to go for that. And that's why I think it's still not likely. So, I don't want to get people kind of moving around on this. But there is still a possibility, especially as this drags on, that you end up coming to this idea of a consensus candidate, an acceptable Republican to Democrats. The big question, can you get somebody like AOC to vote for a Republican? That's not for me to answer. I think it'd be tough for them and then enough Republicans that say, like we've seen in some of these State Houses, let's have a kind of a coalition government. I actually think in the long run, that would be good for healing the institution of the House.
COOPER: But how -- I mean David Axelrod, how likely is something like that? Because the Republicans who would vote with Democrats could pay a big political price for it.
AXELROD: Yes, Adam, I mean, you would be someone to answer this question. I mean my feeling is that in this political environment, that is a tough decision for Republicans to make. The Republican who takes the job to make, I mean, I'm with you. I think that would be good for the country. It would be good for the institution. It would be a way of breaking the fever that you've fought to break. But the question is, does the politics allow for it or do you open up the door to civil war in the primaries again?
KINZINGER: Well, look, I think if you look historically, the politics doesn't allow for it. But we're in a completely unprecedented moment, at least in our memories, where now, I mean as you have five people keeping Kevin McCarthy ultimately from the speakership, you could have five that create a coalition government. Put yourself in the mindset of some of these members of Congress. Let's say they come from a Biden district. Let's say they've made a mental decision that this is their last term, and now they have an opportunity to kind of stand up.
Look, it's not going to be a Democratic speaker, and I think that has to be clear. But an acceptable Republican that creates a level playing field, and that kind of a speaker could actually create an institution that actually works. So, if you put yourself in the mind, you only need five or six people to say, it's a historic opportunity to do something to heal this institution. I may not be running again, and even if I am, I think maybe in two years, this history will judge it well. COOPER: Well, Congressman Kinzinger, how -- I mean how many of those
people are that? They sound like unicorns. How many are they actually? Do they exist?
KINZINGER: Yes, they exist. I mean you've heard Don Bacon, for instance, kind of float this idea, right? Don Bacon is a great guy. Don Bacon represents his district well. He obviously is a military guy. There are people with his kind of, you know, resume there in the House of Representatives that I don't think we're there yet. I don't think it's going to happen tomorrow. But as this thing drags on, particularly as they get concerned with these institutional things.
And again, Americans have to be thinking, what are we giving up for our country so that one single man can become speaker of the House? And I think as that gets into those people's minds, it might trigger something.
AXELROD: My sense when Congressman Bacon floated that was it was in part to put pressure on this recalcitrant group, to understand that there was a time limit, and if they pushed down this road, that they might end up with a situation like that. But executing it just seems difficult. But you're saying five Republicans would join the Democrats to elect a speaker. Is that your?
KINZINGER: I think there's any number of ways this could go down. I think let's say you take Fred Upton's name has been floated. He's a great guy. Let's just use him. I don't know if he's actually interested in doing it. But Fred Upton, let's say his name is put up. You can get every Democratic vote for him. And his agreement with the Democrats is, I'm just going to create a level playing field. And then you get five Republicans. It's possible that's how it could get done. Again, I think we have to go through a number of these iterations until people realize it's doing real damage. But I wouldn't rule it out. I think it's a small percentage chance, but I do think, you know, when we're talking about this possibility a month ago, it's certainly more possible now than it was a month ago.
COOPER: Scott (INAUDIBLE) --
JENNINGS: Hey, Adam, it's Scott Jennings. I have a question about your views on the tolerance of these members of Congress. You know, they've gone through a couple of days now. They've adjourned into until tomorrow. You know, who's to say anything productive is going to happen tomorrow? Then you go through the weekend, and then we're into next week. At what point do you think fatigue begins to alter the judgment of some of these folks?
I mean, it's easy to be intransigent today, or it's easy to say, I'm all in on some outcome today, but by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week I was curious about your views of their stamina for this.
KINZINGER: Well, I think for the average member of Congress, they're already there. They're ready for this to be done. You know, you had family here. It's the weekend. There's a lot of pressure there. You know, none of them will tell you on the air. They're not going to come on and say, we're just tired. We need to go home, because obviously you have to put up this we're here to fight for. The question is, then, who's going to give first? And if you look at the five or six, from what I know of them, I've worked with them, they enjoy being in this moment. They enjoy being in this position.
KINZINGER: And so, fatigue is certainly hitting now, and it's going to get stronger.
COOPER: Congressman Kinzinger, everybody, stand by. CNN's Manu Raju just caught up with Congressman McCarthy. What he said in Morley developments on this historic night when our special coverage continues.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: With the House adjourned for the evening and eleven formal embarrassing rejections in his attempt to be speaker now under his belt, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader has just weighed in. He spoke with our own Manu Raju who joins us again tonight.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and we just spoke to Kevin McCarthy talking to him about this historic and unprecedented in modern times speaker vote going to failing on eleven straight times. He still is maintaining the position that he will be elected speaker. He says he has no time frame for that. He also defended the concessions that he has made to the far a right of his conference. He contended he will not be a weaker speaker because of them. And he -- and I asked him, why didn't you get this resolved by the end, by January 3rd when this began, he said they tried to, but they weren't able to. And when we asked him whether or not this will be resolved by tomorrow, he didn't say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, no, I'm not putting any timeline. I just think we've got some progress going on. We've got members talking. I think we've got a little movement. So, we'll see.
RAJU (on-camera): Have you had to walk back the threats of your strip committee assignment (INAUDIBLE).
MCCARTHY: We're not strip. I didn't make those.
RAJU (on-camera): Was that a mistake to make that threat?
MCCARTHY: I didn't make that.
RAJU (on-camera): Mike Rogers did. MCCARTHY: Yes, well, you're saying I made the threat, so let's be very clear. I did not make the threat and no members are not going to lose their committee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long do you think this is going to drag out for at this point?
MCCARTHY: I'd love to know, but we're working through and we made good progress today, so we'll continue (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) will never vote for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're three days into this. This is the longest since the 1859.
MCCARTHY: Well, I have the longest speech on the floors, so apparently. I like to make history.
RAJU (on-camera): Are you concerned? I mean, you're giving one member the power to oust you if you're speaker. Aren't you going to --
MCCARTHY: That's the way, that's the way it's always been, except for the last year. I think I'm very fine.
RAJU (on-camera): You're fine --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) cut your potential power of speaker.
MCCARTHY: Has it undercut the power of all the other speakers.
RAJU (on-camera): But it was used over John Boehner?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) since 1859? I mean, doesn't that inherently mean you would be a weaker speaker?
MCCARTHY: No. The only be a weaker speaker if I was afraid and I am not weak (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned that there might be more than four who will just never vote for you among the Republicans?
MCCARTHY: No, I think we can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan to go to conference?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you worried about losing votes from moderate if you give too much away?
MCCARTHY: Everybody's involved in it. He's got to get there completely. Look -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McCarthy --
MCCARTHY: Can I finish his answer first to his question? Thank you. Look, this is a new thought we're going to have. We have a five-seat majority, so it's not one side is going to get more another. It's the entire conference we're going to have to learn how to work together. So, it's better that we go through this process right now so we can achieve the things we want to achieve for the American public, what our commitment was. So, if this takes a little longer and it doesn't meet your deadline, that's OK, because it's not how you start, it's how you finish. If we finish well, we'll be very successful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan to go to conference, McCarthy?
RAJU (on-camera): You've been doing this for two months, though. Why did -- why they wouldn't be sorted out before January 3rd?
MCCARTHY: All we tried to sort out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McCarthy, do you plan to go to conference?
RAJU: So that last part saying, we tried to sort it out before January 3rd. So, they've been trying this for the past two months, and we are in this position now. Even as they've been engaged in furious negotiations, Jake, all day long, all afternoon, all night, they still do not have a deal, even though they believe they are getting closer to getting some more Republican support for Kevin McCarthy, still won't be enough to get them to 218. But, Jake, all signs are pointing to this will not be resolved by tomorrow. It will almost certainly be pushed into next week. And with Kevin McCarthy's, path to the speakership will remain as narrow as ever. But as you heard from him there, he still thinks he'll get there.
TAPPER: Now, one of the things that's interesting, Manu, is that this isn't unprecedented entirely. It has gone to multiple ballots before, but the last time it happened was literally 100 years ago. And the last there have only been, I think, five times in history that it's gone beyond eleven ballots. And all five of those times were before the Civil War, a number of them right leading up when this country was more divided than it has ever been until possibly now. Although you could make the argument certainly it was much worse back then.
But I wonder if this is indicative of these tremendous divisions. I mean, back then, there were -- you know, this is before the major two- party system. There were Democrats, there were Democratic Republicans, there were wigs (ph), et cetera. The divisions within the Republican Party are so vicious right now.
RAJU: Yes. And they have been building and building for years, really ever since 2010, the start of the Tea Party movement. And that really saw the more typical middle of the road, establishment minded Republicans, business friendly Republicans, be pit up against more movement conservatives, more of the far-right conservatives who were ushered into power in that 2010 election, ultimately leading to the ouster of John Boehner as speaker of the House in 2015. That Tea Party faction, that hard right group that encompasses the House Freedom Caucus, they're the ones who are threatening to use the power to push for John Boehner to be ousted from the speakership, led John Boehner to step aside, ultimately leading to Paul Ryan to become speaker. Kevin McCarthy didn't have the votes to become speaker then. And now it's really built up during the Trump years to where we're seeing this serious divide between the far right and the more establishment minded members of his conference.
But Jake, that is the real concern for McCarthy going forward after this. Because of that concession that he has made giving one member the power to call for a vote to oust a sitting speaker, he is going to go back to the rules that John Boehner had that led to Boehner's ouster. And you heard him there when I asked him about the concern, he said, I am not afraid of that. I mean he said, I'm not going to be a weaker speaker. So, he is claimed he is fine with this, but it could very well mean he could have a short-lived speakership if he even gets there, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, no, that's exactly right. And in fact, one of those pre- Civil War multiple ballot speakership deadlocks. The guy that won, John Taylor, he lost the next year. It was a very weak speakership. Anderson?
COOPER: Jake, Manu, thanks so much.
Joining us now is Iowa Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller- Meeks, who has voted for McCarthy all eleven times. Congresswoman, appreciate you joining us. Thanks for sticking around.
Are you happy with his adjournment? Do you think progress can be made overnight into tomorrow?
REP. MARIANNETTE MILLER-MEEKS (R-IA): I think the fact that we got 219 votes to adjourn, I know that seems like a farcical thing, but that's a small victory. And yes, I think that we're going to continue this process. But people are seeing the process that typically occurs behind closed doors and what people used to laughingly refer to and derisively referred to as smoke filled back rooms. This is happening out transparently in the public's eye and they're seeing what goes on. This is part of that process. It's part of the process of the House and they're seeing it happen in live now. And we're going to continue to work through this process until we have a speaker.
COOPER: And yet there are deals being made with members, with holdouts. Are you -- do you feel like, all the deals that are being made, what has been given away? Or are you concerned about what more may need to be given away by Speaker -- Mr. McCarthy?
MILLER-MEEKS: By certainly each and every time that there has been agreed upon. So, things that, you know, one party wants, that this faction of individuals want, those have been conveyed to the rest of the House members. And we've discussed those. As, you know, we had two very long conferences back in November. Then we've also had conference by phone. And so, this has been relayed to us, this give and take. I think what most of us would prefer was that all of us have been done in writing and presented. So, we could have discussed it all, debated it all, and then gone through that orderly process that we did during the two conferences that we had, at which time we discussed numerous amendments, went through each and every one of them, every member had a chance to get up and speak, to debate them, to relay their concerns, relay what constitutionally had been done before in the past and whether something was in alignment with the Constitution.
So that deliberative process is taking place. It is ongoing, and members are being informed on what's transpiring through that. So, it has been a transparent process as we go forward.
COOPER: Are you concerned at all about what has been negotiated thus far? Even as somebody who supports Kevin McCarthy to become speaker, are you worried about the power of others to challenge him down the road?
MILLER-MEEKS: I'm not concerned about the power to challenge others. I mean, we did take a vote on that in the entire conference membership that we thought that the motion to vacate should not be at one, it should be at a larger number. And actually, that, you know, we should have consistency across because you have different rules that it's so many members for a certain type of rule or to do a certain type of motion. And so, that here should be consistency among the rules and how many members it takes to change something.
However, Kevin McCarthy met with members, the number was dropped to five. We were -- that was conveyed to us. We, as members agreed that would be OK. We don't see that it weakens the speakership or Kevin McCarthy. And the number was as, you know, last evening was dropped to one. That was also conveyed to us. So, we're all parts of different caucuses that have met with the leader, either the leadership of our caucus or members of the caucus itself that have met with, you know, Leader McCarthy and have discussed this.
And to this point, I mean there are budgetary things that have been put in place, or will be put in place into the House conference rules that the majority of us agree with, and we are not concerned with those. I think most importantly is to remember that Kevin McCarthy has considered the threats to our nation to be the debt, the border, China, and our educational system. Every single person in our conference agrees with that, even the people who are not supporting Kevin McCarthy.
And most importantly, were elected because the country felt that were on the wrong track. We feel we're on the wrong track. Those who are not voting for Kevin McCarthy feel the country is on the wrong track. We're put in place to put the country on the right track. So, we need to address the border. We need to address the untold numbers of fentanyl coming across the border. I'm a physician, a former director of Public Health. As you know, last year the CDC said there was 107,000 drug overdoses that led to the death of young people 18 to 45. Those young people weren't killed by COVID. They were killed by drug overdoses. So, we know we need to address the border.
MILLER-MEEKS: We know --
COOPER: But (INAUDIBLE) -- but excuse me for interrupting. But none of that will get done until there is a speaker and there is no end in sight. At this point, what gives you confidence that at least five, or possibly more hard no votes can be moved so that the math goes in favor of Mr. McCarthy?
MILLER-MEEKS: Well, certainly the numbers of no's for McCarthy haven't increased. If you'll notice, the trend line has stayed the same. We have all stayed very stalwart in our positions, both for McCarthy and those not. But then, this evening, last evening, we had a challenge in getting to the numbers to adjourn. Tonight, we got to 219 to adjourn. We know that there's progress being made. So, I think what's most important is that we're patient. You know, no good thing comes without failure. I can tell you in my life, being the fourth of eight kids, no one in my family ever having gone to college, if I would have given up at the first no, I would never have become a doctor. First one in my family to go to college, first one to get a degree, first one to go to medical school. The only doctor in my family. I'm a member of Congress, one of 11,000 people in our history.
So we know throughout our history, we've had challenges, we've had obstacles. We rise to that occasion. We will get through this. We will use patience. We'll have understanding, and we'll try to meet the needs of all of those in the Republican Conference so that we can get to the job of helping the Americans with inflation, helping them with the border, helping with the opioid crisis.
COOPER: You've also had an incredible career in the U.S. Military, and I thank you for your service, and I appreciate you continuing that service. Thanks so much for speaking with us.
MILLER-MEEKS: Thank you.
TAPPER: So much. Anderson. So, let's chat about where we are, guys. Let's chat about where we are.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Where are we?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are we? Where are we two days --
TAPPER: We're in Washington, DC. We're in Studio D. Beyond that, David, I just can't get past the fact that there are all these people working really hard right now. Let's assume that most of them are operating in good faith and they're trying to come to a deal. Chip Roy, one of the rebels trying to get a rules package that will, in his view, democratize the process. Still, he does not know, I don't think, how many of his fellow rebels will go along with it. And it seems very likely to me that there will, at the end of the day, be at least five who won't?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, this is the question we saw Kevin McCarthy just was asked --
CHALIAN: -- as he was walking across the capital and the reporters were talking to him. And did you see he paused for a moment or I don't know which reporter it was that said, do you know that there are fewer than five or five or more that are going to remain opposed to you? And he stopped and he thought for a second, he said, we're going to get there. That was his answer in that moment. But it's not just that Chip Roy doesn't know how many he can bring over if he signs onto a rules package. More importantly, Kevin McCarthy doesn't know how many that they're going to bring over.
I mean, the work today and I agree with you, a lot of these folks are working in earnest to try to get to resolution here. But all of that work that happened today, from the McCarthy emissaries to the Chip Roy's and others of the larger block of opponents, it seemed like, was just to get enough support to get adjournment tonight so that the work can actually continue. Not, let's get all this work done so that Kevin McCarthy can get to 280 votes to become speaker. This was let's get all this work done today to get to a point so that we continue the work without the circus of vote after vote after vote.
TAPPER: Right. And that's my point, because for what? As Congressman Kinzinger said earlier, is it really that important for this one guy to be speaker of the House? Like, is there really no one else who could do it?
GANGEL: I think this is a real question I asked earlier, who would tell Kevin McCarthy when it's time to a step aside? And nobody could answer that question. Denver Riggleman suggested it was Donald Trump. But Donald Trump only got one vote today, I don't think that's going to do. But --
TAPPER: Famous acceptor of election results Donald Trump.
GANGEL: This group is really in a quandary because Kevin McCarthy doesn't want to step aside and he does believe that every day that goes by, maybe his chances are better. Even if he can't answer the question, can he get fine.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The one thing that I think McCarthy said there that's actually very true, but is a lesson that I don't know if any of these hardliners are going to learn, is that they do. If they want to govern the House of Representatives, if they want to assume the power that they've won, they're going to have to figure out how to work together. And he said, we got to do this now, otherwise we're not going to be able to do anything in the future. Better to figure it out now.
But he also looked to me and Dana, we were talking about this in the break, I think the most we've seen of Kevin McCarthy on camera since this all started. And he looked to me like a man pretty isolated, more isolated than normal. I mean, even stuck in that scrum without, you know, the staffers or protection from allies or people elbowing reporters out of the way, he's just kind of in there alone. Definitely far from the smiling self we saw show up on Tuesday.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Because the situation with the speaker nominations is you just sit there and you let other people talk about you, you don't talk for yourself, which is the way it goes. To answer your question about one man, is this really what it's about? I want to go back to what you said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a proxy battle.
BASH: A few hours ago, I don't know, 9 hours ago. Who's a proxy battle. It's not about one man. It's about where the Republican Party is. And yes, there are people who are in the pro-Kevin McCarthy camp who are waffling on it, but there are a lot of them who are saying we're going to stick with him, not necessarily because they love him, but because they don't like the other guys.
COOPER: Jake, thanks very much. Our breaking coverage continues on this remarkable night. We'll see what the White House is saying with Kevin McCarthy now hoping the 12th vote will make the difference. We also have other important stories for you all ahead. We'll be right back.