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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On Third Speaker Ballot; The Vote For Speaker: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On Third Speaker Ballot. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 03, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to the special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We are following the messy, chaotic, first time in the century floor fight for the House speaker's gavel.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy becoming the first majority party nominee for the speakership to fail on the first and it appears second ballot since 1923. The House clerk is trying to call the House to order. Let's listen in.
CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: Will the House be in order?
The tellers agree in their tallies that the total number of votes cast is 434 of which the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries of the state of New York has received 212.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The Honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California has received 203.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The Honorable Jim Jordan of the state of Ohio has received 19.
No person having received the majority of the whole number of votes cast by surname, a speaker has not been elected.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Louisiana rise?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate Kevin McCarthy for the position of speaker of the house.
JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.
JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.
SCALISE: Thank you, Madam Clerk. We all came here to get things done, to get big things done, to solve
the problems. And I hope when we get through today that all of the members on both sides of the aisle will join together with us to solve the problems, to address inflation that is crushing middle class families, to get control over spending --
JOHNSON: Will the gentleman yield? Will the House be in order?
SCALISE: And we all know what those problems are. We've been talking about them for a long time. We've been proposing legislation for a long time. In fact, it was Kevin McCarthy who put together task forces over a year ago to get members engaged in the process of not just talking about what we don't like, not just talking about what the problems are. We know what those problems are, but how do you fix those problems?
And so, we started rolling those bills out. We've attempted to bring bills on this floor to address inflation, to lower the cost of goods when families go to the grocery store and they can't even buy all the food they need for their families if they can find that food on their shelf. But those bills were rejected. If a family has trouble putting gas in the tank to make it to the grocery store, because we've got such horrible energy policies under what President Biden has done to shut down American energy that families can't afford to put gas in their tanks.
And so, we brought legislation to the floor to lower the cost of gasoline. And you know what? Those bills were rejected by the previous majority. I use that term for a reason. Previous majority, because we want a majority talking about fixing those problems, but we can't start fixing those problems until we elect Kevin McCarthy as our next speaker. And so, what have we laid out? We've got bills just this week to start addressing some of those problems, to start addressing our energy insecurity that's been created when President Biden shut down American energy.
There's absolutely no reason that we need to rely on foreign countries to produce our energy. We can produce it all here, cleaner, better, more efficient and create American jobs in the process. Let's get those bills to this floor.
How long have we been highlighting this open southern border? It's not just brought millions of people across our border, Kevin McCarthy has led delegations down to the border to show what the problem is. We know what the problem is. This president refuses to even admit the problem. It's kind of hard for the president to solve a problem when he doesn't even admit it's a problem.
Let's talk about the numbers. Over 2 million people have come across our border illegally just last year. That's more than the entire state of New Mexico, have come into our country illegal, and this president won't even admit it's a problem.
[16:05:07] Last year alone, we lost over 100,000 young people to death from drugs like fentanyl because we have an open southern border. Everybody should be appalled by that stat, the fact that more than 100,000 of our best and brightest are dead in America because of the fentanyl coming across of our open southern border. These are drugs made in China coming across our southern border and brought into every community in America.
And it should stop. It has to stop, but it won't stop until either the president takes action, which he won't, or we pass legislation on the floor to fix those problems. But that doesn't start until we elect Kevin McCarthy as our speaker.
We know what the challenges are. We've laid out solutions to these problems. It's sad to say these aren't problems that are very hard to fix because we weren't in this situation just a few years ago.
But if the administration doesn't want to fix these problems, people call on us to do that. It starts here in the people's House. Let's rise to this challenge. Let's meet the challenges that the American people said to all of us, not just the Republicans, not just Democrats, but all 434 -- soon to be 435 of us. We can meet those challenges, but let's start by electing Kevin McCarthy as our next speaker. I yield back.
JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from California rise?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate Hakeem Jeffries.
For unity in Congress --
JOHNSON: The gentleman has been recognized.
AGUILAR: For unity in Congress and progress in our country, Democrats are united behind Hakeem Jeffries. I recommend Hakeem Jeffries as our speaker. Thank you, Madam Clerk.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The reading clerk is prepared to call the roll.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Texas seek recognition?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Seek to place a name in the nomination for speaker.
JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.
ROY: So, this is what the chamber looks like when we're actually debating and the bodies are in the chairs. How many times have we been down here giving speeches and there's not a soul in the chamber. Yet, this is what it takes to get 435 people in the chamber and have an actual debate.
The American people are watching and that's a good thing. What we're doing is exercising our rights to vote and have a debate and have a discussion about the future of this country through the decision of choosing a speaker.
This is not personal. It's not. This is about the future of the country. This is about the direction of the country. American people who are looking at this body and wondering why we can pass $1.7 trillion bills that are unpaid for, that can just slide in $45 billion for Ukraine but not pay for it, $40 billion for emergency spending and not pay it, 10 percent increase in defense spending, 6 percent increase in non-defense spending, and not pay for it, and not do a thing except put language in a bill that prohibits our ability to use the money to secure the border.
That bill gets rammed through and we know exactly how it gets rammed through, because the defense world and the non-defense world come together and say, you know what? We're going to cut a deal and we'll all go to the mics and we all give speeches and the American people are the big losers.
That's what happens. We know that's what happens. The rules committee sits up there and passes a bill, sends it to the floor and we have no debate on the floor of this body. We haven't been able to offer an amendment on the floor of this body since May of 2016.
The former leader and I have discussed this right here. That's true. But the fact is, this place has to change. It has to change, and the change comes by either adopting rules and procedures that will make us do our jobs, or it comes from leadership.
And people ask me, what do you want?
I want the tools or I want the leadership to stop the swamp from running over the average American every single day.
We can't keep doing this. I'm going to sit here until we figure out how to stop spending money we don't have. I don't want anymore empty promises. I don't want anymore, oh, don't worry, trust us, we'll do it.
I want to know that we're going to be able to exercise our rights as members of this body to stand up for the American people and actually fix this country. It's not going to happen when we use our men and women in uniform and defense and wrap ourselves around that and then spend more money that we don't have, weakening that defense, weakening our country in the process, but that's what we just did.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am asking for us to come together and figure out how to solve these problems. And to do that, I'm going to do what I did my very first act as a member of Congress or as a congressman- elect and nominate Jim Jordan for speaker.
Now, Jim has said he doesn't want that nomination. Jim has been down here nominating Kevin, and I respect that. Again, I have no personal animus towards Kevin. I've worked for the past two months to try to get the rules to make this place better, and we've made progress.
But we do not have the tools or the leadership yet to stop the swamp from rolling over the American people. Jim has been doing it, he has a track record for doing that. For those reasons I'm nominating Jim Jordan from Ohio for speaker of the House of the Representatives.
JOHNSON: The reading clerk will call the roll.
Bean of Florida?
REP. JOYCE BEATTY (R-OH): For the third time, I'm proud to offer my historic vote for Hakeem Jeffries.
Bishop of Georgia?
Bishop of North Carolina?
Boyle of Pennsylvania?
Carter of Georgia? Carter of Georgia?
Carter of Louisiana?
REP. TROY CARTER (D-LA): Carter of Louisiana proudly votes for Hakeem Jeffries.
Carter of Texas.
Castor of Florida?
Castro of Texas.
Clark of Massachusetts?
Clark of New York?
TAPPER: We'll break in for the third time today on this third ballot because it appears with this fifth vote for Congressman Jordan to be speaker, congressman McCarthy, the Republican house leader has again -- now six votes for Jordan, has again set himself up to not be elected speaker. McCarthy can only afford to lose four house Republican votes. He's already lost six.
This is the third ballot. In the previous two, he was won -- he was opposed by 19 House Republicans on the first ballot and the second ballot.
And it appears, again, it will be on the third ballot.
Let's go to CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill right now because she spoke with Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is -- looks -- appears right now to be headed to another defeat in his attempt to be house speaker.
Lauren, what does Leader McCarthy have to say?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, he's remarkably upbeat for someone who is now on his third ballot for the speaker vote, knowing there may be no end in sight for him getting this job tonight.
But here's what he told us. He said he we will stay in it until we win. And he said he does expect that the votes will eventually change.
And I really pushed him on this as did other reporters on this scrum. I said, what is going to change? What circumstance is going to change? How are you going to convince Republicans?
He just said I know the path. Then he entered the House floor. He was told by another colleague, Representative McCaul, to stay strong.
It paints this picture right now of someone who doesn't really have a clear path to the speakership but is certainly putting on the facade that there is some kind of way forward here. I think that confidence he's trying to project right now is part of why allies say they are going to be with him this ballot, the next ballot, however long it takes. They feel like they're going to be sticking with McCarthy until he decides he's no longer in this fight -- Jake.
TAPPER: I guess we'll see about that. Let's talk about this with our panel. We have Jonah Goldberg, the editor in chief of "The Dispatch", also a CNN political commentator, joining us right now.
Jonah, what's your take on all of this?
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You ever see the movie "Tin Cup" where at the end he swings 19 times for the -- to win the tournament when he can't win it after the second swing. It feels a little like that. I do think there's a little bit of an inflationary import of this.
Kevin McCarthy is not Zelenskyy or Churchill or anybody. Part of what makes this such a spectacle is it's about the smallness of Kevin McCarthy, and the people who oppose him -- one of the things as a conservative that frustrates me with coverage on all the networks is everyone keeps referring to the Freedom Caucus types who are opposing him as the conservatives, as the hard core right.
GOLDBERG: They're nihilists. I mean, look, Chip Roy is an actual conservative. But most of these guys are just performative people. People -- Matt Gaetz is an illiterate.
And so, a lot of this just, you know, angels on the head of a pin -- like we're going to have a speaker by the end of the week, and it will probably either Kevin McCarthy --
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By the end of the week?
GOLDBERG: Like everyone is talking about how America is watching this. America is much more concerned about like what's going on with the NFL.
BASH: I just push back on that for a second, I agree with you, this is obviously the minority of the minority and they're trying to do one thing and one thing only, which is disrupt. It's not about spending.
TAPPER: I do think Chip Roy wants to change the rules, but generally speaking.
BASH: OK, let's -- for the sake of this conversation, we're taking this -- taking Chip Roy out of this conversation. But isn't this actually an illustration and indicative of what is happening more broadly nationally with the Republican Party? Not that there are true conservatives and authentic Republicans who believe in that credo, but that they are being hijacked time and time again, election after election by this minority, because that's -- that's who comes out and votes in primaries and so forth.
GOLDBERG: I agree with that. We've heard this phrase which defies standards and practices of an f show -- let's call it a fecal festival.
GOLDBERG: It is that, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, gross.
GOLDBERG: It is that. It is a hot mess. I think that's true. It's symbolic of the mess of the GOP. But look at the people opposed -- it's Marjorie Taylor Greene versus Lauren Boebert.
TAPPER: Yeah, Taylor Greene is the voice of reason here.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, like, that puts me and the whole Kinzinger Iran-Iraq war kind of position. Neither side to root for in that kind of thing. It's -- so I agree this is the tritest (ph) of the titanic-type mess that Donald Trump delivered on the GOP and it's representative of that. But in the long run, no speaker is going to have the ability to actually do big things and govern in a serious way with a five-vote lead.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is why Chip Roy's speech nominating Jim Jordan was so puzzling because he's talking about all these big grand ideas. He wants Washington to stop running over the average American people. But how is that going to be accomplished with Jim Jordan as a speaker who still has the same five- vote problem that Kevin McCarthy would have?
And then on top of that, Kevin McCarthy has basically said, hey, you guys do whatever you want.
And so, I mean, to me, it seems like Kevin McCarthy -- Chip Roy said this isn't personal. It does seem personal. It seems personal in the sense that they don't think they can trust McCarthy -- TAPPER: Right.
PHILLIP: -- for whatever reason --
GOLDBERG: Because he's not trustworthy.
PHILLIP: It's the thing about selling shares of himself. Back when he was working for Boehner, he was doing one thing, then it was the Trump thing. He's been on all sides of all different issues.
TAPPER: I just want to interrupt for one second because at the top of the hour before we started at 4:00, I interviewed Congressman Byron Donalds from Florida, Republican, very conservative Republican, who have voted for McCarthy on the first ballot and voted for McCarthy on the second ballot, but seemed very uncommitted to him on the third ballot. He just wants somebody who is going to win 218 votes.
Kind of like the point you're making, Jonah, that at the end of the day, you know, it's like the old saying about why politics and academia is so vicious, because the stakes are so small. There's not much difference between a Speaker Jordan and Speaker McCarthy, theoretically, and Donalds just voted for Jim Jordan. He just voted for Jim Jordan.
So what we are going to likely see at the end of this vote is McCarthy losing support. We already have one individual, congressman Donalds, switching from McCarthy to Jordan. So Jordan will have theoretically 20 votes if not more.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It's a massive warning sign for Kevin McCarthy, the fact that he's not only not maintaining the number he had, Byron Donalds switching his vote to Jim Jordan is a really significant matter. I talked to one of the Republicans vowing to block McCarthy. They said they believe they're continuing to grow.
We'll see what happens but that is probably the worst thing that Kevin McCarthy can see happen to him in this third vote right now.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Jake, I will say it's interesting that he came on and previewed exactly what he was going to do --
HUNT: -- before he went back to the floor and actually did it. He did say in that interview that he told Jim Jordan that he was impressed with the speech that he had given on the House floor. It does seem to crack open the possibility that, again -- we've talked a lot about this today, Dana. I mean, there would have been a time when I would have absolutely agreed with you when you said there's no way Jim Jordan can get 218 votes.
I just wonder if the House conference hasn't shifted, the House Republican conference hasn't shifted so much that now it is possible.
BASH: I think it's unlikely. I think nothing in this scenario is a "no way". We don't know what's going to happen.
TAPPER: Let me just go to Manu Raju who has more on this crack in the dam, as it were, the fact that Congressman Byron Donalds, Republican of Florida, has now changed his vote from Kevin McCarthy to Jim Jordan. Manu, are we reading too much into it to think this is a canary in a coal mine, not to switch metaphors? But I just did.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a real concern for Kevin McCarthy, because it may not just be congressman Donalds. I spoke with Congressman Ken Buck. He is a member of the House Freedom caucus, someone supporting Kevin McCarthy, somebody who has been in talks with the freedom caucus members.
He says he believes it's more likely that there will be more McCarthy supporters who decide to vote against him. He does not believe it's more likely that those Republicans who are now backing Jim Jordan will somehow vote for McCarthy. He says if this drags out, it's more likely McCarthy is going to continue to lose votes.
That's a major warning sign for Kevin McCarthy, if he continues to go in the wrong direction, what strategy does he take? Does he change his strategy in any way? His hope had been to change and grind these opponents down, eventually force these members to come his way. That does not appear to be what is going on at the moment. That will only embolden this flank, this conservative group of members.
Bob Good, one of those members said he does expect the support for Jim Jordan to grow. We'll see if that happens. There are 12 votes and counting. It appears he'll get more than 19.
That means those members are not going to change their view here. One of them also, Andy Biggs, who challenged McCarthy on that first ballot just told me moments ago that he's still a no. He still plans to vote against McCarthy. So, McCarthy has done little to win over those skeptics. And in fact, they may be going in the opposite direction which means this could go on for a long time unless one of those candidates, McCarthy drops out, something he says he's not going to do.
TAPPER: But just to clarify, Manu, Ken Buck, Congressman Ken Buck who a lot of us thought was a no vote on McCarthy when the day started, but ultimately voted for McCarthy on ballot one and ballot two, even though he says it's likely McCarthy will lose votes going forward, he did -- he did not switch votes. He still voted for McCarthy on the third ballot, correct?
RAJU: Yeah, that's what it sounded like to me when I was listening to the tally right now. So, it appears that he is still holding with McCarthy at the moment. And that is the big words here, at the moment. If this goes late into the night and stretches on, on and on, Republicans are going to start looking for an alternative, a different way to get around it.
But, again, it is unclear exactly what that is. There really is no consensus candidate that can bridge the differences between the wings of this very divided Republican conference. The question will be really up to McCarthy, if he stays in this race, it's going to be difficult to get to 218.
If he bows out, perhaps that can change. But that is not in the cards at the moment. McCarthy supporters are pushing forward, even if he maybe losing votes here in this key third vote.
TAPPER: All right. Let's go to Anderson -- Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.
Back with the team in New York.
David Axelrod, I keep asking the same question. But what is the next step?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They keep doing the same thing.
COOPER: I know, exactly.
AXELROD: I just think that at some point, as I said earlier, there are people, responsible people who are supporting McCarthy who are going to assess the situation, and they're going to go to him and say, listen, we love you. It may not be fair, but you're not going to get there. We need to find somebody who possibly can because --
COOPER: You're saying responsible people in Congress --
AXELROD: In his caucus, in his caucus who are supporting him. I don't -- as Charlie and Alyssa said earlier, I don't see the group that's opposing him relenting. You know, the nihilists, as Jonah called them, have less inclination to compromise in the inference of the institution than McCarthy's group.
So, you know, I just -- I don't believe people are -- McCarthy said, we'll go a record number which is 100 and whatever ballots. No one is going to tolerate that. And at some point, he's going to have to stand aside, not because he wants to, but because others demand that he do.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, at some point, this isn't about Kevin McCarthy anymore, right? It's about the party. It's about the institution. It's about the business of the country. I think Byron Donalds who had been a McCarthy vote who switched to Jim Jordan, he telegraphed it.
I think he's telegraphing to a lot of those only-Kevin people who are starting to get squishy at this point, because Kevin is almost like a nihilist himself, right? That he's going to go to the bitter end, it doesn't matter, I'm going to win, I don't really have a plan but it's going to work out.
And so, he isn't getting more popular as this goes on. I think the Byron Donalds switch might portend what we're going to see in further rounds.
MONDAIRE JONES (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I don't know that Byron was ever an only-Kevin. I'll leave that to someone else to fact- check. He is a very conservative member of the House. He aligns himself with Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
And so, frankly, it's natural for him to not be voting for Kevin McCarthy. You'll first start to see members of the house freedom caucus who did vote for Kevin on the first few ballots begin to shift their allegiance to another person.
COOPER: There are many more out there who are members of the Freedom Caucus who did vote for McCarthy who might shift.
JONES: And that support for someone else will extend outside of the House Freedom Caucus.
I will also say this, listening to Steve Scalise nominate Kevin McCarthy, I was once again left thinking to myself here is another speech that didn't really extol the virtues of the person nominated.
COOPER: Yeah, there's a pattern here.
JONES: It just speaks to the fact that Kevin, unfortunately for him, does not inspire faith. Listen, again, there are plenty of members of the House Democratic Caucus who will have disagreements with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Hakeem Jeffries, but they can give you a long list of reasons to nominate them, their accomplishments, their values. That's unfortunately not taking place today.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, McCarthy is starting to feel a bit "I alone can fix it." It's only going to go so far. If McCarthy is showing on a third ballot, he's probably going to lose more votes to Jim Jordan this time. There's going to be a moment where cooler heads prevail and they have to start thinking about who it is and have that conversation.
Otherwise, they leave the door open for more maneuvering by the right- most flank. And, again, you made this point well. We're not talking about big ideas here. This isn't we want to solve the border crisis, we want to do X, Y, Z. This is really a process argument and it's really Kevin McCarthy trying to pursue his highest ambition. At a point folks are going to get tired.
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, the chaos caucus, and I hate to admit this, is winning right now. They're holding their breath waiting for everybody else to turn blue. The challenge is they understand leverage, the power of five.
Now, they have 19 or 20, so they have more than they need. That's all they can do. And they have no problem taking this thing to the brink. They live for this.
Now, at some point, the adults in the House Republican caucus or conference are going to have to stand up, as David said, and they'll have to have a conversation with Kevin McCarthy. How long do we want this blood-letting to go on that is damaging the institution, the Congress, the country and the party?
So, I think they have to have that conversation. When do they have it?
AXELROD: They do have leverage right now. As long as these votes are going on, they have leverage. They've won all the battles that they are going to win. They've won all the battles.
And the only thing that will satisfy them now, it seems to me, is someone other than Kevin McCarthy.
COOPER: Does all this have to happen in real time? Again, the search for somebody else, whether Steve Scalise or somebody else, and then the deal-making that that person would have to do with -- I guess to shore up their support. Or cooler heads prevail, they decide to take a break for several days and reconvene. How does that --
HENDERSON: I mean, it's not even clear to me, for the sort of hardliners in the 20, how interested are they in some of these deals? Is that sort of a figment for what they're really after which is McCarthy's defeat, right?
So, that's just unclear to me. I mean, do they really care about these rules changes?
GRIFFIN: When they're saying it's not person when they're talking about Kevin McCarthy, it's personal. Charlie and I were there in 2015. There were letters passed making allegations about his personal life to deny him the speakership. It's been personal for many years, and the fact he thought he could overcome that, it's a dramatic miscalculation by Kevin McCarthy.
DEAN: Here is a novel thought. How about maybe electing a temporary speaker, somebody with a time certain, they could around -- coalesce around somebody for a period of a few weeks?
AXELROD: Which may be the reality anyway.
DEAN: Until they can agree on who the permanent speaker will be, something like that, conditional speaker -- somebody like Tom Cole.
COOPER: If you really want to send a message you can govern, that's not a great way.
DEAN: But it's better than this.
COOPER: We can govern-ish for a while.
DEAN: It's better than this.
GRIFFIN: There was great symbolism that the Democrats are taking advantage of which is every time Hakeem Jeffries is nominated, they all stand up and cheer and say, hey, look, we've got our stuff together. So the juxtaposition it's creating is a Republican Party in utter disarray, while the Democrats -- I mean, every time now Hakeem Jeffries is outperforming Kevin McCarthy. If that's not a sign we need to put up a different Republican, I don't know what is.
COOPER: Well, the Democrats are milking this because normally, it's like herding cats with them. So, they're just happy to be in this position for one day.
HENDERSON: They're relishing this moment and rallying around Hakeem Jeffries. I do think there's a deep level of respect and love for Hakeem Jeffries in a way that there isn't for Kevin McCarthy.
JONES: You know, you asked a question earlier, Anderson, whether this has to play out in real time. I think the answer is yes. I mean, if your project --
COOPER: I was really asking that for my own satisfaction --
COOPER: Now that I reflect on it --
JONES: Like everyone else is very hungry.
If you're -- if your project is to remake the Republican Party in the way that these nihilists want, then it has to play out in humiliating fashion for the guy who represents or at least has been characterized as part of the problem.
AXELROD: But there is a tail that bags the dog element of this. They don't represent large numbers of Republicans, but they're using their leverage, as they do in primary elections, to push the party in a direction that really damages the party's chances in a general election.
COOPER: We're watching the historic vote for House speaker which looks to be headed for a fourth round for the first time in 100 years.
You're watching CNN's coverage and a special edition of THE LEAD. We'll be back in a moment.
TAPPER: We are watching this dramatic vote for House speaker. We still have absolutely no idea how this will end. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be on his way to falling short of the necessary 218 votes he needs to win the speakership for the third time today. This has not happened since 1923.
I'd love to get the perspective from former Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler joining us now.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. Today was your last day in office. Just for those people who weren't
familiar with your race, you voted to impeach Donald Trump. He opposed you in your primary. That gentleman -- congressman want-to-be Joe Kent defeated you in the primary and lost in the general election.
You are one of the many examples of someone who would be in Congress right now if Donald Trump hadn't interfered in your primary and backed a guy who couldn't win in the general. People have been hearing about this for a while.
So, I'll get to that in a second. What is it like watching this chaos?
JAIME HERRERA BEUTLER (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It's sad. I hate it. I absolutely hate it. No one wins when the elected leaders cause unnecessary drama. I feel like the American people have been through a lot of drama in the last several years. So when this unfolds, there's no purpose for it. There's not going to be something good that comes of it.
So, it makes me sad, makes me heartsick, makes me think of my colleagues on the floor right now who are good people, who are probably frustrated to know end just thinking, I worked my tail off to get here, I just want to do this job, can we get on with it already?
TAPPER: So, of the ten house Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the insurrection, only two are back in congress. Everyone else either retired or was defeated in their primaries. No doubt those ten would be in the McCarthy column right now.
But is that not relevant to what's going on here, extremes in the Republican Party gaining power, gaining a voice?
HERRERA BEUTLER: I mean, I think there could be some relevancy, absolutely. I think extremes on both sides right now are really wagging the dog.
I remember the last swearing in, I remember having a frustrating conversation with Steny Hoyer because they had to be present to vote, Pelosi demanded everybody be there to get the votes across the finish line. People with COVID showed up. I was so mad about that.
Now watching this unfold with Republicans, it's just drama. I think the extremes, who still only represent a minority of the party are -- but they have this outsized platform and it's ridiculous. I had to kind of smile after one of the last votes thinking -- well, great, now they only have to convince 198 more Republicans to come their way. They're just not going to do it. There may be some shift, but the reality is the majority of the Republican conference is not going to give in to these demands.
So, it's really -- I think we have to walk through this. I say we as a country, me as private citizen, a part of this. But this is -- it's not helpful in any way. If anything, I would argue it hurts whatever their cause is. TAPPER: So, one of the things that strikes me about watching the House
Republican conference change over the last few years is that you have the extremes, the Matt Gaetzes of the world, the Gosars, Boeberts. Then you have a lot of House Republicans who have kind of acquiesced and played along with things that they normally wouldn't have, largely because of Donald Trump who was at the time for four years president and also, of course, a force in the Republican Party.
You saw this firsthand. Your relationship with Kevin McCarthy fractured. He told you about his call with Trump the day of the insurrection, almost two years ago today. And Trump had refused to call off the rioters from the capitol and Trump said something to Kevin McCarthy like, maybe they care more about this than you do, Kevin.
Kevin McCarthy wouldn't share that conversation. Reportedly you told the story and reportedly he got mad at you. Then McCarthy pops up at Mar-a-Lago.
HERRERA BEUTLER: I got to tell you, this feels like we're going into -- where are you going here?
TAPPER: My point is how much do you think Kevin McCarthy is responsible for this madness by acquiescing? We talked to Congressman Dave Joyce earlier. He says a lot of what's going on right now can be traced back to McCarthy two years ago kind of going along with this stuff.
HERRERA BEUTLER: You know, I think it's a fair question. I don't know is the answer. I do have to have some of the same questions. I have kids. I have three little kids and I'm learning as I go, would you put your foot down? Sometimes you get better results than not, and you have to apply that because I feel like there are some people acting like toddlers on the floor.
Maybe that is a better way to have handled this, but maybe not. I have noticed that some of these folks cannot take yes for an answer. I heard one of the people on the floor talking about trust, trust. You can't trust, can't trust, right?
I remember thinking, so maybe there isn't the -- I cannot believe how much personal agency these members are choosing to give up on the house floor. I always believed that you should -- you align with the team, right? Pick a team. Pick a Republican, pick a Democratic.
I never gave my voting card to the speaker or the leader. In fact, I paid a price at times. Not just talking about impeachment. There are other things where I crossed the will of where the leadership was.
But there was always a respectful understanding that I have to represent my district. I hear these guys talking about how Kevin has to do this for me, I need this from him, I can't trust him. I'm thinking what? What kind of leader are you in your district, that you can't -- all these people are talking about how they don't like the swamp, and they don't like Kevin being the leadership of the swamp, and I -- for people who are anti-swamp, may make a whole lot of back- room deals that are not in consensus with Republicans that are there in the House.
I just feel like they're operating under this double standard that at some point -- I do think it's going to be other Republican members -- you see it now. You see him pushing back, you see him saying you're not speaking for me. I think more of that will come and more needs to come, but this is their moment.
This is their big chance to make headlines, to put out tweets, to build their social media narrative. They're probably not going to get much more of that moving forward. They'll take it for all its worth.
TAPPER: Yeah, one of our panelists, Jonah Goldberg referred to Matt Gaetz as a human Twitter account a few minutes ago. Just one of the things that --
HERRERA BEUTLER: (INAUDIBLE)
TAPPER: But one of the things that's curious -- you know, so you and I were talking about how it was literally 100 years ago, 1923 that the Congress -- that the speaker of the House was re-elected on nine ballots.
I was reading in a newspaper from 1923 a few minutes ago about why that rebellion happened, and it was because, A, there was a very narrow majority and, B, some rules changed that seemed perfectly reasonable about wanting more amendments on the floor of the house and less legislation done in committee, et cetera, et cetera, which is what you hear from Chip Roy. So, maybe he's an exception to the gross generalization I'm about to make which is, I don't know what these rebels stand for. Do you?
HERRERA BEUTLER: No, no. I do like your distinction about Chip Roy. I would agree.
So this is one of the frustrations, and I've read it in accounts. They said Kevin didn't give us enough soon enough, which if my kids talked to me that way, I would push back and say take some responsibility for yourself. They keep saying, he didn't agree to this, he didn't agree to this.
As I've watched this whole thing up until this last week as a member, you know, they put together -- they couldn't give say exactly what their ideas were and they moved, every time Kevin would come to the table on them, they moved, they changed shift. Like I know that's a great requirement.
He moved on that. He's even moved on the motion to vacate, which they said is the number one issue, but I read again yet, that wasn't far enough. That wasn't far enough, so at some point they're even squandering whatever point they're trying to make because they're not coalesce -- they can't take yes for an answer.
TAPPER: Yeah. HERRERA BEUTLER: And again, this doesn't reflect poorly on the
American people. This reflects so poorly on the institution, which is a disservice to us all. I wish they would just take yes for an answer and move forward and live to fight another day. That's the other thing.
The whole point of legislating is, you have to get people to agree with your ideas or you don't move your ideas forward, which means you work hard in committee, means you offer amendments, means you go talk to people that disagree with you on the floor. You bring ideas, you work in issues.
You don't grandstand in Twitter. You don't win these fights on Twitter. I wish they would understand that.
TAPPER: So, it's interesting that you say that because you are right, the 72-hour rule they requested, which is that you don't just vote on a bill immediately, you get -- you know, you have 72 hours. That's a perfectly reasonable request.
HERRERA BEUTLER: Absolutely.
TAPPER: But then we heard Kevin McCarthy today talking about his meeting with, I believe it was Congress members Perry, Boebert, and Gaetz, in which they were basically, according to McCarthy's characterization, basically saying, I want to be on this committee, I want to be this chairman, I want this budget for the committee, I want this, I want that.
It was, in McCarthy's characterization, they wanted special treatment for their votes.
HERRERA BEUTLER: Yeah, favors.
TAPPER: As you note, that's pretty swampy. That's not exactly --
HERRERA BEUTLER: I always say, that's the definition of swampy. So, they're not even taking issue with the other, you know, the loyal opposition's issues, they're literally doing that at the expense of honest, hardworking members of their own conference, who have been working hard, doing everything they can to get on committees, to do with the way that is respectful and professional, which is -- you don't make your point to the chair. You talk to the stirring committee members.
It's like it's really almost lazy to expect, or it's very -- though this down and say, well if I don't get this. I mean, this is an adult professional word. Despite what many of you viewers might think, it's actually a very professional institution and when they do this kind of thing, boy, I -- my hope is that Kevin does not given to him on that because what it sends is a message to the whole rest of the conference who have been working hard, and who are honestly fighting for their constituents, that they have to take it back to the seat, which is inappropriate. It's just ridiculous.
TAPPER: One last question for you, congresswoman. I do hope that we get you back on the show, because I have a lot of questions for you about all sorts of stuff, including what you want the direction of the Republican Party to be. It does look like Kevin McCarthy is on his way to his third defeat of the day.
Do you think he deserves to be speaker? Does he have a set of principles and belief that you could rally behind, if you were in Congress right now?
HERRERA BEUTLER: I think he's worked harder than anyone else to do it, that's the other thing that's frustrating to me, is you look at Jim Jordan -- you look at Matt Gaetz who helped us lose seats, right? And then you look at the only person who has spent their hours on the road, going to the districts, raising money, sitting down with people, doing events, and really, that's Kevin.
Whether people agree or disagree with every policy point he makes or not, that's fine. But he's put the work in, and that's what frustrates me is, why would anybody ever do that again?
Why would anybody help raise the money to put the ads on TV, to get the message out? Why would anybody else ever work hard for that if all of it comes down to this kind of social hostage-taking that this small minority is doing? And again, it's just bad precedent for the institution.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining. Let's hope to have you on again sometime soon. Thank you so much.
We are watching this historic fight for the House speakership, which appears to be headed for a fourth round since 1923. Kevin McCarthy looks, like you said, for his third defeat of the day, it proverbial hat trick.
You are watching CNN's live coverage of a special edition of THE LEAD. Stay with us. We're going to squeeze in this quick break.