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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On 6th Speaker Ballot; Drama On The House Floor. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 04, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to the special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, and you are watching CNN special coverage of the growing chaos in the U.S. House of Representatives.

House members currently voting for speaker for the third time today, the sixth time this week. This has not happened since 2000 -- I'm sorry, since 1923, 100 years ago, 1923. Rebellious House Republicans, as was the case hundred years ago, are denying the man who thought he would be speaker, in this case Kevin McCarthy, the necessary votes to win the speaker's gavel -- meaning that right now, the House is completely paralyzed.

We do not have a speaker. We do not have official members of Congress. We do not have committees. We do not have rules.

And the math is frankly only getting worse for Kevin McCarthy as the process drags out. The total number of Republicans not voting for him is going up. The total number of Republicans voting for him is going down.

Let's go straight to CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju who's been live on Capitol Hill for us all day.

Manu, we're hearing that each side of this Republican against Republicans standoff might appoint four members to negotiate some sort of way forward?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what according to sources tell us that is under discussion right now, to come up with some sort of group, a negotiating group to break this standoff that is paralyzing the House and preventing the 118th Congress from moving forward.

That discussion, four people on the side of McCarthy, very close to Kevin McCarthy, representing his interest. And, four -- and also interest of other members, other parts of the Republican conference. And then four people who are part of this 20 group bloc of members who are denying Kevin McCarthy that path to the speakership. To have them sit down in the room, negotiate, horse trade, see what agreement they can be reached or at least get some sort of proposal on the table in writing and present that to the rest of the conference, the rest of the members of the Republican conference.

That has been a big challenge for people close to Kevin McCarthy over the last day or so. They have been trying to get in writing exactly what these detractors want. But that has been vague, according to the members who are part of this discussion. They say they have not gotten any clear sons from these members what exactly they would do in order to get to yes.

But there are signs that at least these talks are continuing which is a positive sign -- at least that McCarthy folks believe there's a positive sign that they could perhaps per eventually break the stalemate. One development, one of the 20 no votes tell me that he is not a hard no on McCarthy. He said he is going to be part of these discussions going forward. He said they have had more productive discussions over the last two hours than they have had over the past two months.

And this was all part of a push by number of these members to essentially give them more power over the speakership, weakened the leadership. Some concessions McCarthy has, made others want to go further.

But the challenge, Jake, is not all the 20 members have the same point of view. Some of them simply want a different speaker candidate all together. So, even though these negotiations are happening, that does not guarantee McCarthy a path to the speakership. He needs to prevent more than four Republicans from defecting.

Right now, that map is not there. The question is, can any closed-door talks tonight break the stalemate. That is one question.

And, Jake, the other great question is, they want to adjourn after this vote which, to adjourn you need 218 votes of the full House. It is still uncertain whether Democrats will assist them and whether they will get all the Republicans to agree to move forward. So, another question, can they adjourn. They want to, you and again with these talks for later tonight, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks.

Let's discuss with our panel.

So, what we're hearing right now, Abby, is Republican congressman McCarthy foe (ph), Bob Good of Virginia, said, this actually could take several weeks to resolve. Do you think that the public --


TAPPER: Do you think that Republicans in the House have the stomach for that?

PHILLIP: I don't know. I don't know that -- I don't really know that they have the stamina for it. I don't know that they have the patience for it.

As we talked about earlier, there's some real consequences to this getting dragged on. People don't get paid. People student loans don't get paid. They can't set anything up.

They can't -- they obviously can't do any business which they couldn't do until the Senate came into session later this month anyway. But, it is a huge delay. And I don't know that anybody really wants that should be the case, not to mention the fact that more time is not necessarily Kevin McCarthy's friend in the situation. I think that has become apparent over the last two days.

As this has gone on, each successive vote, he is losing support. His supporters are getting more frustrated with him. That's the opposite of what he thought was going to happen earlier in this week. So, for all of those reasons, I don't really think that McCarthy supporters will allow it to go on for weeks.

And it is not going to take all of them, by the way. I don't think that is going to be like, 70 McCarthy supporters. I think even if he starts to lose a handful, 10, a dozen, that has a huge psychological effect on this process and I think that will start to drive. How this goes.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Can we also acknowledge the Chip Roy was never a never-Kevin?

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: He was always looking for things to negotiate that were substantive. This was not about personal. He was hard-line.

TAPPER: He wants changes in the rules to make it an easier amendment process and to have it so that legislation isn't done in committees and there is an amendment process, et cetera. That's a big issue.

GANGEL: So the question to me is, it comes down to math again. Even though they may have these negotiations with four on each side, are any of those four never Kevins? Have any of the never Kevin's changed?

Right now, the numbers on the ballots have been 20 against Kevin and one present 21. He can only lose four.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right, and I think that is the critical number here still, Jake. I mean, we have talked a lot about, okay what is motivating all these people. Even as they try to get four of them in the room, it's not clear you can get one to represent each little corner of that universe.

But there are, to your point, Jamie, enough right now who have a personal problem with Kevin McCarthy that you start to really see a world come into focus where Steve Scalise or someone like him because a consensus candidate here.

I mean, I'm with Abby in that I don't see a universe in which this continues on for months, partly because I think that might ultimately starts to break the backs of the Republicans who actually want to see the government function. And that is really going to be people who support Kevin McCarthy. And I think just watching the dynamics on the actual floor today,

watching people's faces, watching the smile disappear from Kevin McCarthy's face, watching those interactions and negotiations become more animated in heated and playing out right in public on the House floor, shows you that the pressure is building to the point where it has got to go somewhere.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, let's talk about the Trump factor for a second here because Donald Trump has endorsed Kevin McCarthy. He kind of gave a tepid remark to NBC yesterday and this morning gave a stronger support, although I wouldn't call it strong in general.

He doesn't seem to be having any influence on this although Marjorie Taylor Greene said, if it had -- well, go ahead.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I was just looking at what she. Said she says that he does still have sway and that she actually believes he helped prevent more defections from Kevin McCarthy today. I don't know.

I mean, obviously, we've seen how this played out today and how these votes look like. Ken Buck then saying that he can't guarantee a vote for McCarthy for much longer, it's a big part of. This and I was just texting with a House Republican who said, they are going to have these meetings in small groups they believe after this vote. And four members of the House Freedom Caucus, four McCarthy allies, meeting with McCarthy to talk about this. But this House Republican said very few people believe that's actually going to break the impasse here and that it's actually going to really change anything.

I also think another thing to think about here is we are soon going to talk about alternative voices and who that could be. Is this what it looks like if McCarthy does become House speaker? How is he going to negotiate with his conference when it comes to a government shutdown and avoiding now when it comes to the debt ceiling? When it comes to all these huge factors that they're going to have to be dealing with if he did even get it?

It just shows the chaos that it's going to be and saying today, this is what the next two years are going to look. Like it's going to look like what you saw yesterday what you've seen today.

TAPPER: Because the rules are being changed and the speakership itself, no matter who ends up winning it will be weaker is the point that Congresswoman Massie is making.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson of South Dakota who is a supporter of Kevin McCarthy for House speaker.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

It does not look like Kevin McCarthy can become speaker. He is losing votes instead of gaining votes and the opposition is gaining votes instead of losing votes.

What is the path forward? REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Well, Jake, keep in mind, a lot of this is

a negotiation. I would caution everybody not to draw too many conclusions from the swing of one vote, or the swing of one vote yesterday. The reality is that 200 is still a whole lot bigger number than 20.

And you talked about -- your guest talked about the animated conversations on the floor. I have certainly been a in a number of them but I think effect that those conversations are still ongoing shows that people are trying to get to yes.

Byron Donalds is not going to become speaker of the House. Everybody knows that. Hakeem Jeffries is not going to become speaker of the House. Everybody knows that.

There are still real active conversations going on today on that floor about how to make Kevin McCarthy be the speaker.

TAPPER: I guess the question I have is, I know that all 20 votes against McCarthy are not never Kevin votes. And I know that the vote present from Congresswoman Victoria Spartz is just a vote, she says, to have negotiation, not a vote against Kevin McCarthy.

But it does seem that there are five definite hard-line never Kevin votes. There were at the beginning of this process and I don't know that Matt Gaetz cares that much about rule changes. I don't know that Lauren Boebert cares that much about whether or not the rules committee changes the amendment process. It seems to me like they just will not vote for him.

And if he can't get those five, isn't that game over?

JOHNSON: Well, a lot of this is posturing because it strengthens someone's leverage.

Now, listen, do I expect Matt Gaetz to in the end vote for Kevin McCarthy? I do not. In that way, you're right, Jake.

But I would tell you, everybody I'm talking to the exception of two or three members on the floor, wants to be done with us this week. Every Republican out there knows that we've got the southern border we got to deal with, we've got inflation, we've got crime and drugs.

There are people that you may think are never Trumpers that are actively trying to find a way to yes. And I would say this also -- there might be a pretty good number that might even today describe themselves as never -- I said never Trumpers, I meant never Kevins, Jake -- who might describe themselves as never Kevins. The reality is emotions are running high right now and I think once we can calm everybody down focus on what we've got to do for the next two years, you' bre going to see some people come around.

TAPPER: So, let's assume that that happens. And there is a further liberalization of the rules, weakening of the speakership, which some might argue is actually better for democracy anyway. That's certainly the position Chip Roy has, where it is easier to amend legislation. It's easier to demand a vote on something as opposed to the structure rules that are in place right now.

Will that be a speakership that prevents further chaos? We're seeing a lot of chaos right now. Might this just be a preview of what the House Republican majority looks like with these weaker rules for the speaker?

JOHNSON: Listen. News flash, it doesn't matter what the rules will be, and it doesn't matter who the speaker will be, it is going to be a chaotic two years, when you have a majority that is this narrow and a Republican Party that I think doesn't take orders well, lots of independent thinkers -- it's going to be messy.

One of the reasons that I have continued to vote for Kevin McCarthy is that I think he gives us the best opportunity to have a functional majority and keep the chaos down to manageable level.

TAPPER: So that's an excellent point. One thing that I think a lot of people in the House of Representatives in the Republican conference are not necessarily thinking right now is, whoever we can speaker with this Republican majority, in order to achieve anything, you will need to deal with Democrats in the Senate so you can get to 60 votes there or even 51 votes there. And you will need to have a president who was willing to sign that legislation.

It seems to me that -- you talk about how this is going to be chaotic no matter what, there's also the factor of, if you want any of this actually become legislation, it needs to be palatable to Democrats as well.

JOHNSON: Well, I hear you loud and clear. I'm chairman of the Main Street caucus. That's between 70 and 80 pragmatic conservatives who want to get things done. We're acutely aware of what you're saying, Jake.

There are areas of common ground. I don't know how any one in the Senate or in the House could look at 2 million folks crossing the southern border in a year and say, oh, that's fine, we don't need to do anything.

Increasingly, Democrats are coming to me and they are saying we have to do something at the border. They know that we have to do something about inflation. They know that we have to do something about crime and drugs in our cities.

There are things we can get done. But to get any of that done, Republicans, we have to get our act together, because committees can't form and legislation can't move forward without a speaker of the House.

TAPPER: And is this going to end with Speaker McCarthy or might it end with a Speaker Scalise, or someone else?

JOHNSON: Still, far and away, the person in the best position to get 218 votes is Kevin McCarthy. It's not going to be easy. It's not going to happen quickly, but he is still the guy best positioned to, A, do the job, and, B, get the votes. TAPPER: Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson, a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much, sir. Good luck to you and your conference.

As voting continues, it is a sixth apparent defeat for Kevin McCarthy on day two. Our special coverage of the drama for House speaker continues right after this quick break.



TAPPER: A sixth vote for speaker of the House is happening right now and they are calling the people who haven't voted yet. There are only a couple left. It looks like another apparent defeat for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on day two, vote six of this chaotic process to elect the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Dan Bishop from the great state of North Carolina. He's a member of the House Freedom Caucus. He supported Congressman Byron Donalds for speaker on all three ballots today, voted against Kevin McCarthy all three times yesterday as well.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

So, we've had six votes now, although the sixth one is not official yet. But it looks like he's not going to win again. And his vote total has actually decreased since the first ballot. Not by much, by a couple of votes.

Is there any way to get you to "yes" when it comes to Kevin McCarthy as speaker?

REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): Hypothetically, conceivably, as far as I'm concerned, Jake, it's a question of, can we build guardrails so that we're more confident, sufficiently confident that the House of Representatives will deliver for the American people?


It's view of many others -- I think this is really widespread in America, Jake, that the place is broken. That, you know, we just did this big $1.7 trillion omni. Now, this has happened constantly for a decade and things need to change.

The group of people I'm working with, we began back in the summer, before the election. We try to talk about how we could change rules and procedures in order to improve the place. And we have been in a constant state of work to -- and good faith to try to get to a point that we can be confident that we're going to do the right thing.

Obviously, Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes at this time. And I don't know what -- you know, it seems to be a question of what is the magic idea? A new idea was suggested to me on the floor today by a moderate member who I'm good friends with, and have had good interactions with. So, hope springs eternal. I am prepared to continue working. I think

if we work the right way, we could have gotten the satisfied before -- dealt with before we came to the floor on January 3rd.

TAPPER: What was the new idea you heard today that you like?

BISHOP: Well, I would love to share that. But I'm afraid if we say -- if I say it out loud, Jake, I'll jinx the process in terms of what it represents. You can understand that. People get wedded to a single idea. It's sort of a problem.

But I think what's interesting is there's a dynamic sort of quality, different people are talking to different groups of people. And there's going to be some more meetings after we finish today. So, I think -- I'm optimistic we're going to solve this problem for the American people.

I think it's very important. You described it as chaotic, and you can say that, but I really think this is democracy in action. If you're not satisfied with Washington as it is, then you can't just be satisfied doing the same thing as we begin this new Congress. So, I'm very optimistic we're going to solve problems here.

TAPPER: Well, just for the record, I described it as both chaotic and democracy in action.

BISHOP: OK, fair point.

TAPPER: So, Kevin McCarthy's team says that they have acquiesced to a lot of the demands, and that they've had trouble getting the further demands from members opposing him in writing.

Can you give me just two or three items that you want in order to vote for McCarthy, in order to get to some sort of end to this process?

BISHOP: Something that is very important to many members with whom I'm associated, but it's not that terribly important to me, is they want to restore the motion to vacate the chair in precisely the manner that it existed in the rules before Nancy Pelosi took it away in effect. And McCarthy is deemed to compromise over that, do sort of an echo of Nancy Pelosi's approach, I think it probably ought to go back to the way it was. Some members are really stuck on that.

For me, otherwise, Jake, it's a question of what I said earlier, we always deliver these omnibuses. We don't get to the point of doing 12 appropriations bills. We don't take each one separately. We don't have the budget involved for that.

And so, I am focused primarily on some mechanisms that might just align McCarthy's incentives, with the speaker's incentives with what would represent performance for the American people. Let's get it done instead of just having an aspiration that every time fails.

TAPPER: So, just for our viewers at home to understand, usually -- well, about a decade ago, it used to be that each individual committee would pass an appropriations bill and each one of those would be a separate vote. And it doesn't really go like that anymore. It's done in these giant, massive packages.

And one of the reasons, though, Congressman, as you know, is that a lot of people found that process, A, very grueling, which I know is not an excuse, but, B, landing itself to further dysfunction. I'm playing devil's advocate here.


TAPPER: But the idea was, by doing it in a streamlined process, having one big vote, everybody can vote on this, then we'll actually pay for the government to function as opposed to the way you want to do it.

You understand that argument, I would guess. You just disagree with it.

BISHOP: I do get it and I don't know, Jake. Certain people would say that and some really aren't going to say it very much, but they'll probably believe it. But the American people see it every time and these bills are full of trash.

I detailed a lot in this bill that just came forward, having a more arduous process gives more opportunities to expose and use public, you know, spectacle or public attention to try to prevent that or bring better discipline to bear.

And one of thing that certainly is true that Americans recognize is as this process has gone, our debt is climbing into the stratosphere. It can't be the answer to say we're going to keep doing that in an undisturbed way.

I'm in favor whatever efficiencies we can develop. But we've got to approach it differently and I think the omni is about the biggest symbol of how broken Washington is.

TAPPER: So, let us assume that Kevin McCarthy or a different candidate, but let's -- I guess let's stick, since I'm just doing a hypothetical, let's stick with Kevin McCarthy. Let us assume that he is willing to acquiesce to a lot of these demands, which in your view would democratize the process, allow more amendments.


Have more happened on the floor of the House instead of in committees. Have individual spending bills, not a massive, big omnibus spending bill.

Would that be enough? Or does Kevin McCarthy himself have to agree to, for instance, refused to vote to raise the debt ceiling? I mean, does he need to agree to think and vote the way you do? Or is it enough to just democratize the process?

BISHOP: He doesn't have to think and vote the way I do.

And those who have made the accusation that people are trying to control it from a group of a handful of people and everything we do -- that's not true. What I encouraged Kevin to do two months ago right after the election was to seize the opportunity, take control of the situation, identify some wins that we will pursue, specifically, that we're going to go to the mat for them together. Bring us altogether around those.

I was saying -- I was talking to a member who is a moderate just earlier today, there are lots of points on which he and I agree, and others that we have talked to in a group together. We could come up with -- but the fact that you never see a specific agenda that you know Kevin McCarthy is going to go to the mat for as opposed to sort of a pablum or just sort of poll-tested language indicates the problem.

And it's been that way for all 14 years he's been in leadership, with all due respect to him.

TAPPER: Right, and there is a lack of trust that a lot of the 20, especially a lot of the core never Kevin five have when it comes to McCarthy.

Is there possibly somebody in Republican leadership who you would trust in such a situation? We heard Congressman Buck float the name of Steve Scalise today.

BISHOP: Well, one of the things, Jake, about the place is, you know, the fact that we questioned, why are we talking about Kevin McCarthy, why is he the guy? Because he's been at the top of the pecking order.

So, do we -- are we consigned to advance the pecking order one notch every time? Is that -- I think there would be a much better process if we just said, okay, let's open the consideration. Who in the conference would be the most effective person to bring -- to carry us forward? To lead? To have a pro -- a legislative policy plan that we're going to fight for? Who would have the greatest conviction?

And I'll tell you this, Jake. There are a variety of people who fit that bill. I would prefer to see that.

TAPPER: Well, tell me who? Who would get 218 votes? Seriously.


TAPPER: Who could get 218?

BISHOP: If I said the name of a person who would be perfect to do it other than Byron Donalds who we've got on the floor right now, it would discredit them just because people get mad.

And so, I won't do that but I'm telling you, there are at least eight or nine people that would be acceptable to me, I believe.

TAPPER: Acceptable to you but --

BISHOP: And they're not -- they're not in the Freedom Caucus, not of Freedom Caucus. How about that? TAPPER: If the process continues to drag out and there's a stalemate

after stalemate, and Kevin McCarthy is still getting the most number of votes and your candidates are still getting double digits, low double digits, as Congressman Donalds is getting right now, would you ever consider blanking or even voting present just to lower the threshold so that he could be elected speaker and you could move on with the people's business?

BISHOP: I intend to pursue this to the correct outcome for the American people.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, Congressman Waltz says your party is turning into a laughingstock because of this process. Do you disagree?

BISHOP: Well, I don't. I completely disagree. We'll see how voters react. The reaction coming to my office runs about 10 to 1 in favor of the effort that we're making.

The American people are fed up. I mean, you can look at polls and no doubt about that. And they didn't wholeheartedly jump on the Republican Party. They gave us a narrow majority.

I think they want to work hard and fix things, and I intend to put forth the effort. I don't think just continuing to do the same old thing and the same old way is going to be what the American people want to see or what satisfies them.

TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman Dan Bishop of the beautiful state of North Carolina, thanks for being with us, really appreciate it.

BISHOP: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: CNN special coverage of this historic and dramatic vote for House speaker continues right after. We're going to squeeze in a very quick break. Don't go away. Thank you.



TAPPER: And welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the -- well, I don't know, what you would call it, the chaotic fight for the speaker of the House. There's just been a vote of some consequence.

Let's bring in CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill to tell us what just happened after Kevin McCarthy suffered the defeat on his 6th ballot over the last two days.

What's next, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's now the discussion within the Capitol Hill about adjourning. And that's what happened, they're adjourning until 8:00 p.m. tonight, that's what the House Just agreed to. And that's not as long as some of the members have been talking about for the course of the day. They had been hoping to adjourn until tomorrow, especially the McCarthy camp to give them more time to get an agreement.

But, now the adjournment is to 8:00, what happens now? The members will go behind the closed doors, there's a discussion about a negotiating group of four members that are aligned with Kevin McCarthy, four members who are part of this group of 20 members who have been denying Kevin McCarthy his path to the speakership.

They're expected to go behind closed doors and try to trade offers, try to see whether they could come to some sort of resolution, and if they can, perhaps it can change the dynamic, because, at 8:00 p.m., the house will gavel into session.

And if there's not the 218 votes to gavel the session close or adjourn, they will automatically go on to the next ballot. And if it hasn't changed is Kevin McCarthy will suffer another loss.

So, all this means is the next few hours absolutely critical for Kevin McCarthy to get the votes because negotiations are taking place and there's optimism that they could get a deal. Scott Perry is walking towards Kevin McCarthy's office. We'll see if that's part of the group. Of course, he's one of the 20 Republicans who have been vocal in their opposition to McCarthy. But, there's been some suggestion of potential movement, Chip Roy, the Republican of Texas, and Dan Bishop, another Republican who is opposed McCarthy signaled an openness to supporting him if there are certain changes made, I believe the talks have moved in a positive direction today.

But, one other Republican, Andy Biggs just told me he's still a hard no. So, there's not much room for error, there are only four Republican votes McCarthy can afford to lose. We'll see, and the next few hours will be critical whether he can peel off any support or win the detractors, the challengers not moving too much to the right, because if he does, that will alienate others in his conference. So, a big moment for McCarthy and his future as they try to get a deal in the next few hours.

TAPPER: All right. Manu, thank so much.

Let's bring in my panel, let's start with Alyssa Farah Griffin who before she worked for the Trump administration, worked for Republicans in the House, including some members of the Freedom Caucus.

Alyssa, it is 4:36 is there any chance that you think there could be any deal possible that could be brokered between the 20 rebels and the 201 or so Republicans who support Kevin McCarthy to end this process?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, yes and no. I think there's about five members of the no-caucus that is intractable. I don't think Kevin McCarthy can get to 218. I am hearing talking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill about some potential concessions he may offer to peel off some on the margins and one that's floated, and again, this is speculation from members who are kind of just trying to come up with what he may be able to do, is to commit to a certain term limit of a speaker, so, to do it for one term, to get to have opportunity to be speaker but then step down after two years. To me, that sounds like an incredible long shot but it's a massive

concession, it could pull folks over. But, at the end of the day, Kevin McCarthy has had months to come up with the votes and do the arm-twisting behind the scenes to cut the deals that he needed to. And the fact that he's let it go this far is just -- is truly a strategic failure at every level.

TAPPER: I guess one of the questions I have for you, Alyssa, because you know Kevin McCarthy? How did this happen? How did it happen that he went to the floor of the House without having secured the votes, without having the promises to vote for him if he goes along with the demands. I think there are 17 out of 20 individuals who voted against him, he helped to fund their campaigns for Congress.

Did he just take it all for granted? Does he have a staff around him that doesn't tell him the truth? Does he not listen? Tell me how this happened.

GRIFFIN: I suspect that when he was anticipating there was going object had red wave and he raised a ton of money, he had contributed quite a bit to House Republicans, he would have had a closer shot at the speakership, it still would have been an uphill battle, but what he never did to my understanding is recalibrate when he got the slimmest of slim majorities after the mid-term elections.

And I think that he thought the former president's support would be enough to put him over the edge, but, as we saw with Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, they're saying we're not with the former president, it's actually a mistake for Trump to back McCarthy. He should be with us, which also speaks to just how weaken Donald Trump is.

But, it was a strategic calculation at every term. I keep thinking of the fact that Steve Scalise, you know, former whip, would have counted these votes and known 31 nos in conference does not amount to 218 on the floor, and somehow, Kevin McCarthy botched that.

TAPPER: Jonah Goldberg, what's your take of the day? Did you anticipate today would be pretty much the same as yesterday, except Kevin McCarthy actually lost a vote?

GRIFFIN: It does have the feeling and you could ask the engineers from the control rooms to put a tape on and replay it, and a large swath of Americans wouldn't notice.

Yeah, look, on this point about, I've heard this all about how Nancy Pelosi would never bring a vote to the floor and all of that, and I understand the point, but the Constitution mandates January 3, like it was a hard deadline to go.


And so, you know, he should have done a better job strategically to get the votes in order. Part of the problem is, it is very difficult to have a plan to deal with people who do not have a plan either, right? The people who oppose him had no concession -- conception of what victory would look like. You can see how he was left with no choice other than this theory, large numbers of whom have no sense of shame, could be shamed if they were forced to -- it was a terrible miscalculation.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDNET: To add to what you are saying, I mean, there are some people who have some conception of some things that they want here and there. But Melanie Zanona earlier reported earlier today that one of the demands that was being made by Matt Gaetz, who I think a lot of people believe is a hard now, is that he wanted a subcommittee gavel. He wanted a specific job handed to him by Kevin McCarthy, which if you are one of the other, you know, 200- plus Republicans, that is an untenable demand, that is a ridiculous, untenable demand. Because what it means is that, just because he is holding out, he would get more power, just due to that fact?

So it is problematic for McCarthy to be dealing with those kinds of demands and I think as we go along with this, one of the big questions that will emerge is let's say, it's Steve Scalise, does he go along with all the concessions that Kevin McCarthy has made up until this point, which are a lot? Does he go further in order to get the votes to be speaker?

I think it's -- for all of the other potential speakers, Republican speakers, they have to ask themselves, under what circumstances will I have this job? What kind of rules are these people going to demand because I think we don't actually know the answer to that yet and they're probably going to spend the next couple of hours figuring that part of it out, too.

TAPPER: Let me play devils advocate about Matt Gaetz, OK? I'm going to defend Matt Gaetz.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can we roll the breaking news banner?

TAPPER: Stand back, I'm going to defend Matt Gaetz. OK, when -- and I'm also going to date myself further. When Tom Daschle in the Senate was running for Senate minority leader against Chris Dodd, neither of them are in the Senate anymore, he switched the vote of Senator Carol Moseley Braun by saying, you can have my seat on the finance committee, and that is how he became the Democratic leader in the Senate.

This is not new. I am sorry. Like I get that Matt Gaetz is outrageous in so many ways. But asking for an armed services committee subcommittee chairmanship is not outrageous.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Except that they are anti-swampy, and this seems like a swampy move.

BASH: Exactly. We were talking about when this whole process started yesterday afternoon, which is in some ways, this is the ultimate Washington -- it is wheeling and dealing and it is the kind of thing that we used to see on the regular. With Nancy Pelosi, it was more heavy-handed. With Tom DeLay, when the Republicans had control in the 90s, it was heavy-handed.

But previously, this is the way it worked. Remember when they were earmarks? This is a different situation. That is the whole reason earmarks tended to work for a leader because you could get things out of your members that you want it, but you are exactly right.

I will give you another example, Jim Jeffords. When he was a Republican, he agreed to switch parties, or at least to become and independent, and flipped control of the Senate in 2001 because he was promised a chairmanship. It's the same --

TAPPER: Of the Education Committee.

PHILLIP: That is the kind of thing they don't want.

BASH: They don't want, which is what they are asking for.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESOPNDENT: There is another dynamic here and that is personal. Steve Scalise may not have to make some of the compromises that Kevin McCarthy has because Kevin McCarthy's problem is it is personal. There are these people who do not like him, who do not trust him.

Steve Scalise and many of these members -- they feel that he will keep his word. They will go with him because he is not Kevin McCarthy.

HUNT: Right, one of the things about Kevin McCarthy and one of the reason why -- Paul Kane put this very well in "The Washington Post" this morning -- is what Kevin McCarthy loves is campaign strategy and tactics, right? And to Alyssa's point, he failed at the tactics of getting himself the gavel here in the house, which means he failed everything that he has the best at. Those failures began with the midterm elections. But also, it went right up to that conference meeting yesterday morning.

TAPPER: There is no doubt he does not do it well.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It is important to note there is a lot of distrust between Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy's camps.


Like they work together a lot, but there's a deep -- there is a whole other layer there to add to this conversation here.

TAPPER: The House of Representatives is taking a break until 8:00 p.m. We are not. But this does happen after three successive defeats -- six really total if you are including yesterday, for Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy trying to become the speaker.

Up next, I'm going to talk to a current member of the Republican Congress about the stalemate. Is there a way out?

Stay with us.


TAPPER: The breaking news of this hour, the House of Representatives is that they have adjourned until 8:00 p.m. Eastern, later today. The House Republicans remain deadlocked over a choice for House speaker.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky. He supports Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

McCarthy has now lost six times in a row. What's next?

REP. ANDY BARR (R-KY): Well, you can look at that way or you can look at it from the perspective that Kevin McCarthy won the vote amongst Republicans over 200 members to 20 six times.


It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a mathematician to figure out that is a landslide victory within the Republican conference. Of course, it's not enough to earn the speakership. But it just goes to show, this is a lopsided, vast super majority within the Republican Congress to elect Speaker McCarthy -- to elect Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House.

And when is the last time -- I'm from Kentucky. When was the last time you saw Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump on the same page? That means a wide swath within the Republican Party is supporting Kevin McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy has done more to earn this majority for the Republican Party than any other member.

So, look, at the end of the day, we need to make some reforms to fix a broken Congress and I agree with a 20 or so members who want to make those reforms. McCarthy is making those reforms. So, I think at the end of the day, I think he will be -- he will be elected speaker.

TAPPER: Do you think these reforms, these changes to the legislative process, these changes to the appropriations process. We just talk to Congressman Bishop of North Carolina, who does not want any omnibus spending bills. He wants individual corporations bills, as used to be the case like ten years ago. Do you think that it is possible to cut this deal before 8:00 p.m. tonight?

BARR: Well, I agree with Representative Bishop and so does Kevin McCarthy. None of us want a broken appropriations process. We're all fundamentally on the same page.

Yes, I do believe that we can make some process. I think the members who have voted against Representative McCarthy recognize that they are not within the mainstream of the conference. The bulk of the conference, over 200 members, are sticking with Kevin McCarthy. And those pro-McCarthy members do not want to reward a dysfunctional process that actually enables the Democratic majority or minority, rather, the Democrat minority.

We need to stick together. Unity is required to actually advance the conservative cause. Disunity is the enemy of advancing the conservative agenda. Every day that goes by where Kevin McCarthy is not speaker of the House is a day we don't defund seven -- and we don't secure the border. It's a day we don't deal with 40-year high inflation.

It's a day we don't get to conduct oversight over this Biden ministration that has to date been unchecked and there has been no checks and balances with the regulatory agenda of this administration. So we know we need to get on with electing a speaker so we can actually advance our agenda. I am -- I am floating a few ideas with those members who have flooded again speaker McCarthy to continue to try to find reforms that would bring them along and to unify our conference.

One of those seems to be continuing to reform the steering process. Most of the concerns that I am hearing from the members relate to their access to appointments to committees. But no member should have special treatment. And so, we could do a few things to the steering committee process, to give the freedom caucus a seat at the table, to give the Republican study committee, the two-state group, the moderate members, each a specific representative, a delegate to the steering committee. So that everybody feels like to have a fair and equal shot at committee assignments.

TAPPER: So, obviously, the red wave that Kevin McCarthy predicted did not happen. Republicans won back control of the House, but by a very slim margin. One of the reasons for that, analysts say, is that there were a lot of extreme candidates, people on the far-right of your party.

And I am wondering if you think these 20, although certainly not each individual one, but these 20 being further empowered in any way, might actually exacerbate that problem and make it as though all you guys care about is a laptop investigation, for example, as opposed to the issues that you just talked about, immigration, inflation, fentanyl and on and on, and oversight, which is obviously important. I am wondered if you are worried about that?

BARR: I am not worried. I spoke with those members with whom I disagree with about wanting to reform the institution -- I agree with him on that. In order for us to advance those reforms, to actually lock in the wins that they have achieved in proceeding leadership to make these changes to the rules committee, in order to lock in those wins, we have to elect a speaker. We have to advance our agenda. We need to be unified to actually serve as that check and balance.

So, I am appealing to my colleagues to, look, take yes for an answer, except the fact that we have made some successful reforms here, lock them in, and bank those wins and let's keep fighting.


TAPPER: Yeah, don't tell me. Tell Congressman Bishop and Matt Gaetz and all the others. I mean, what did they say when you say that to them? Hey, we have acquiesced on so many of these things. Kevin McCarthy and I and everyone else also want to reform the process. We also want individual procreation bills. We also want a more open amendment process.

What do they say when you tell them that?

BARR: Well, again, a lot of these grievances center around what they perceive us their access to an appointment to a committee. And they feel locked out of the process and there is a lack of trust. So, I think if we reform the process and create a steering committee where everybody feels like they have an equal shot, I think that could move votes in favor of Kevin McCarthy, those who have not voted for him right now. I am actually getting some positive feedback from members that I have had personal, private conversations with. I've relayed that back to Kevin McCarthy and his staff.

And I will continue to work. And listen to all sides. Listen to those pro-McCarthy members, who say, look, I'm never going to change my vote. And I'm never going to reward dysfunction. And I'm also going to continue to listen to my colleagues who are skeptical of Kevin's candidacy and listen to what it is that they actually feel like they need to get the reforms that they need to open up the process.

One thing I have emphasized to my colleagues who are opposed to Kevin a speaker of the House is that no group should have special treatment. Every -- we are the Republican Party. We believe in merit-based appointments.

TAPPER: Right.

BARR: We don't believe in seniority. We believe in merit. That means that everyone should be able to go in front of the steering committee and persuade them that they deserve to be on this committee or that committee.


BARR: No speaker, whether it's Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Byron Donalds, Jim Jordan, no speaker of the House can guarantee any individual member a spot on a committee. It is the steering committee.

If we can open that process, reform that process so that members have confidence in that process and not trusting a single individual person, I think we can make some progress and get this thing resolved so we can move forward with our agenda.

TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman Andy Barr, thanks so much. Good to see you, sir. Good luck.

BARR: Good to see you. Thanks, Jake.

Today, No House speaker still. How will this? And more drama from the house floor soon.

Stay with us.