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Erin Burnett Outfront
Now: 11th Vote Underway, McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat; McCarthy Huddling With Key Negotiators Amid Apparent 11th Loss; Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On 11th Speaker Ballot; House Voting On Motion To Adjourn After 11th Speaker Vote. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 05, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Is there a deal for speaker in the works? And how many votes would they even get?
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And, Erin, I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington.
Right now, we're at a key moment in this totally grueling fight for speaker of the House. We're told negotiations are under way at this moment as an 11th vote is now under way.
BURNETT: Eleventh vote, it appears. It appears that Kevin McCarthy has lost, lost 11 votes, five just today. Despite, now the longest speaker contest in generations, and as we're watching this, we're told that McCarthy supporters and his critics are at least talking. They've been behind closed doors trying to hammer out a deal in an attempt to show some progress.
But what might that deal look like? Because McCarthy has already essentially given them everything that they want. He is promising votes on term limits, allowing just one member to force a vote to oust him, just one. And there are four in the never Kevin camp, so I guess they could raise their hand any day. I mean, if there's just one more Republican that McCarthy can't get the gavel without help from Democrats.
So, there is so much to get to tonight. Let's begin, though, with Manu Raju, because he's there on Capitol Hill.
Manu, we know there has been this deal circulating around. There was a change in this round and nominations. Yet, it appears yet again McCarthy's failed.
So what do you know to be happening right now?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. This is actually a very key moment. Kevin McCarthy is behind closed doors with some of the main holdouts that have denied him to the speakership, as they're trying to hammer out an agreement. I'm told by number of those members who have gone in and out of that room that they're close. They believe that they can reach an agreement as soon as tonight.
Now, that would not assure him the speakership. In fact, it would still be 208 -- short of the necessary 218 votes to get the speakership. But what it could do is it could essentially allow the House to adjourn, adjourn for the night. Let them finish up the negotiations and then potentially get back.
If they get back tomorrow and continue the voting then, and that is the challenge right now. If the house does not adjourn, they need to keep voting one ballot after the other. That is the rule. This is the first order of business of the 118th Congress that came into session on Tuesday, is to elect a speaker. They weren't able to do it on Tuesday.
They were unable to do it on Wednesday. They've been unable to do it on Thursday, which is why we are now on the 11th ballot in which Kevin McCarthy will suffer a loss, the only other option is to vote to adjourn. Kevin McCarthy wants to adjourn this house, but a number of the holdouts have not agreed to do that because they are pushing for other changes, changes that would give them more power over the speakership. They have won a number of key concessions giving them more say on the legislative process, more efforts, ability to oust a sitting speaker but they want others, other key committee assignments and the like.
And those negotiations have been furious going on all day long, and now at a critical juncture in as McCarthy is meeting with these key holdouts, including Byron Donalds who's been nominated multiple times to run for speaker. He is part of these negotiations. The question is, does he sign up?
Does Congressman Chip Roy of Texas who is also part of these negotiations, does he sign up? As well as Scott Perry, another key holdout.
So all major questions as Kevin McCarthy trying to get the votes still won't get there tonight. But they hope they can get closer -- Erin.
BURNETT: Manu, can I ask a question about adjourning. So, if they're able to get the votes to adjourn and I understand that's a big if? When do they adjourn to? Because obviously they don't have the math to get this and tomorrow, we understand from your reporting, there's going to be several McCarthy backing Republicans who are not there because they have to go for family issues or whatever back home. So, the math seems to be even harder tomorrow.
So, what does that mean for adjourning?
RAJU: Yeah, that's a really good question. It's uncertain at this moment. The hope among the Republican leaders is that if they adjourn, perhaps they come back tomorrow. Perhaps they would try to get -- show progress on the next speaker vote. And then come back in the next week, essentially adjourn up until Monday.
[19:05:06] They really hope that they can get enough agreement among the Republicans. They can adjourn tonight until Monday. That seems unlikely. It's still possible. But that is one thing that is being discussed.
But the other idea is to come back tomorrow, maybe for a briefer session and then let members go home for the weekend. Let these negotiations finalize and deal with the fact that, yes, several of the members are gone dealing with some family issues. So they won't be there.
This was why all these things are very complicated at the moment because of these razor thin majority, 222 seats. You can't lose more than four Republican votes on any vote, and
Democrats don't want to vote to adjourn. They want to have this vote over and over again and embarrass Kevin McCarthy.
So, it is up to the Republicans to adjourn this House, to finish their negotiations. And that's where we're at this moment, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.
OK. So, what do you make of that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I was cringing a little when I heard Manu describing McCarthy being behind closed doors getting last minute requests. I mean, just the idea the store is open and the looting has commenced.
BURNETT: But the shops are empty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing to give away.
JENNINGS: He can't -- yeah, they're giving away the ice cube tray out of the freezer. He cannot get the 218 tonight, and he's basically dealing now to get to a deal on adjournment.
And so, I mean, obviously, we're going to have to wait for them to come out n this round, as best I can tell, none of the anti-McCarthy votes have been yet switched, and there's still some voting to go.
But that was what I was looking for. Was there going to be any momentum on this? And it doesn't like --
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No one read the deal yet. The deal hasn't emerged yet.
BURNETT: But you're saying nothing changed. It doesn't mean the deal is rejected.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This whole thing, when you said no one's seen the deal yet. It sort of suggests there is a good faith negotiation going on. This is a hostage situation. And all the leverage is on the side of the hostage takers here and the
question is what are they demanding of McCarthy?
URBAN: I mean, you'll end up with Speaker Jeffries, right? I mean, that's the flip side here. You can end up with somebody, the moderate, I mean, you can blow up the whole House here.
BURNETT: You very well could.
URBAN: I'm saying --
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That could be -- look. As Kevin McCarthy gets subjected to his struggle session here, you know, the public humiliation being imposed upon him by this crew of folks, don't forget, two things, tomorrow is January 6th. And the vast majority of the folks were election deniers that voted to overturn the election.
BURNETT: In the 20.
AVLON: Among this 20. And whatever deals they're, quote/unquote, forcing upon him, will only ensure more dysfunction going forward.
So, at what point if he continues to give away what's left of the store, does the center right grow a spine, say stop, enough? There are 18 Republicans who represent districts Joe Biden won. We do not need to have our politics dominated by the extremes like the rest of us are helpless.
URBAN: But, John, once the toothpaste is out of the tube, these agreements are made, you can't put it back in there.
URBAN: You're not going to have the 20 be like ok, we didn't negotiate that, right? So Scalise comes in, he is stuck with the deal.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's exactly the point. Anybody is going to be stuck with this deal unless by some miracle there is an alternate plan B where there is some kind of a power chairing. I can't imagine that's going to happen.
But if you think about it -- I mean, the damage to the Republican Party has been done. This is what GOP leadership looks like. This is what it will look like tomorrow morning, January 6, as we remember one of the darkest days in our country's history.
AVLON: You know, let me push back on, David, right? You're originally from Pennsylvania, right? Deeply divided Republican Party, Doug Mastriano, and deeply dysfunctional politics. The state legislature got together on January 3rd and with Republicans having a slight edge, they nominated centrist Democrat to be speaker who reregistered as an independent with a bipartisan governing coalition that isolated the far right. Same thing happened in Ohio. Same thing happened in Alaska. Take a
URBAN: I think it's great. Could it happen here?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No.
URBAN: You know, is Brian Fitzpatrick going to be the speaker?
JENNINGS: I mean, you said there were 18 Republicans and Biden districts. There are 200 Democrats that would vote with 18 Biden representing Republicans for --
URBAN: For who?
JENNINGS: I don't know.
AVLON: Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Upton, those are the names that have been floated. And that would actually represent the will of the people and the results the last election. Better than this hostage taking by --
BURNETT: I also have to raise, again, I know I bring up the psychology of it, but if you're going to have a, quote/unquote, deal and then adjourn for a few days, that's not a good position to be in. All people are going to do is think and say, no, maybe -- I mean all you're doing is finding way to rip it up.
URBAN: If I was Kevin McCarthy, I wouldn't let anybody go home until this is done. Nobody leaves.
AXELROD: I think -- I think there are Democrats that would consider helping in this situation under the right set of circumstances. These guys say that the conditions would be too steep. But they've been told McCarthy is not interested in them. McCarthy is not interested. And he's governing this.
Meanwhile, he goes into the negotiations. I know this is unfair and people will protest maybe even here. But all remember the movie "Animal House"?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never heard of it.
AXELROD: It feels like he's going through the negotiations and bending over and getting smacked on the butt with a paddle and saying, thank you, sir, I want another. I mean, this feels like right now. I mean, he is not -- he is running to be the speaker of the House and he is not in control of the House or his caucus or this situation. He is weak. HOOVER: He continues to send a note to the four holdouts that won't
budge. And frankly, why should they? All they need to do is remember what they want. At the end of the day, I mean, committee chairmanships are still on the table.
You say he's given the whole house away. He hasn't. I mean, they can still get more. And that's exactly the way to look at it.
JENNINGS: But 200 that are for McCarthy and at some point you start leaking on the other side of the aisle.
BURNETT: And what happens then? It seems like he said you're at this crucial moment. You're at a hinge. Once you're past this hinge, if you don't get there, then you're in the great unknown.
JENNINGS: There were two buckets that had to get done. A group that said they want to negotiate and try to get. There then the other group of people who say they'll never get there. And trying to corral the entirety of the people who want to get there, that was the plan for the day.
McCarthy is behind closed doors now. Can he show progress on bucket one tonight?
BURNETT: That's the question. He briefly appeared on the floor but went right back out to your point.
All right. We're going to take a very quick break. Our special coverage -- no, we're not taking a break.
Okay. Good for us.
BURNETT: Guys, give me a break. I've been sitting here all day.
FINNEY: We're with you, Erin. That's the difference. We got you.
HOOVER: He briefly appeared on the floor, McCarthy, to vote for himself and go back out in order to continue to negotiate.
BURNETT: When he's back and in these negotiations himself, right, I mean this is now, as you pointed out, the importance is this is principle to principle and that principle includes Kevin McCarthy, does that in any way change the way you see it?
AXELROD: Look, I think that it -- it suggests progress because he had a terrible meeting with his caucus on Tuesday. And in the intervening days, he sent negotiators to talk to the people because they didn't want to talk to Kevin McCarthy because they don't trust Kevin McCarthy. Now, I think the conversation is, how do we structure something where we can trust you to live by the commitments and how we lock you in to the commitments that you're making? And I suspect that's the conversation that's going on right now.
JENNINGS: One other person we haven't talked about much today, just looking at the reporting and texting that's going on. Eli Crane --
BURNETT: We have not talked about Eli Crane, right?
JENNINGS: Is apparently, according to some, has become an emerging problem for leadership here. No one is talking about him as being one of the holdouts. So, we've been talking, are there five or six or seven? I mean, we don't really actually know how many people aren't interested in a deal.
I mean, we've been talking about this deal as though -- there may be more than enough who don't want to talk about any deal. And then what can you do to them if you do get, you know, the deal with some of the 20?
So, anyway, this guy's name has come up some. The point is there are people out there that just -- they're not looking for a piece of paper.
BURNETT: It's an interesting point. We haven't talked about his name. Of course, he's been voting against. You know, when we had Pete Sessions on a few moments ago, David, he put the number of never Kevins at seven or eight.
URBAN: Yeah, seven or eight.
BURNETT: And we've been saying five, six, so, I wonder perhaps --
URBAN: Nobody knows. There is no roll call, right? There has been a roll call but not a roll call of who is serious. Chip Roy is not a never never. He's a never, but not a never never, right?
It's clear that Matt Gaetz is a never never until he's not a never never, right? I mean, I think Matt Gaetz is like all over the place.
BURNETT: The new nomenclature of the conversation, never nevers, never, never, never.
AVLON: The taxonomy of this insanity is amazing.
And, don't forget, you know, with these never -- the never nevers, that four, do not include Paul Gosar and Scott Perry.
AVLON: You think they're going to be the voices of reason who really bring people together?
URBAN: Scott Perry has been in the room negotiating. He has been in there according to the --
AXELROD: One signal that's been sent is the bazaar is open and if -- this is the time you have maximum leverage. If you are not a never- never, this is a time when you want to cut the maximum -- you know, some subcommittee chairs maybe even committee chairs maybe being born in these rooms.
BURNETT: That's a double negative.
FINNEY: That's the other tension point. At some point where is the rational to be, you know, for Kevin McCarthy when being a never never gets you a lot more?
JENNINGS: When does the random person by the way who never would walk in just wander in and go, you know, I was considering my options?
JENNINGS: The carpet in my office is rather shabby.
BURNETT: All right. We are going to take a break now. Our breaking coverage will continue here because the House is in progress for that 11th vote today as Republicans are trying to hammer out a deal. So can they get there at this pivotal moment? We are live on Capitol Hill.
Plus, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna is my guest. He has said he's open to supporting a moderate Republican speaker. He's put names out there.
So, could this happen? Who would it be?
BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of "OUTFRONT. Our breaking coverage of the speaker vote. The 11th round of voting is under way right now.
As you can see on the screen, Kevin McCarthy is on track to lose that ballot as Republicans are trying to hammer out a deal to bring some votes over although not enough. It doesn't appear.
One of the Kevin McCarthy holdouts just telling CNN that the latest deal has the, quote, changes that we want but called it round one.
Some might say we're about to go on round 12.
But Melanie Zanona is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.
So, Melanie, what is the latest you're hearing about a deal?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: So there is an offer on paper. We're told. One of the members that went into the meeting, Ralph Norman, he's been a key holdout. And he said he and some others were invited into one of these meetings to review the offer. When he came out, he did offer a few details about what is in there.
He said mostly revolves around rules changes including having 72 hours to read bills before they come to the floor. There is also promises about votes on term limits for members of Congress. That is something that Ralph Norman was pushing for, and also a more open amendment process.
But he did say that what was not in the deal is promises about committee assignments. However, it doesn't mean that Kevin McCarthy is not making promises. They may not be on paper form. That is something in a rules package, all these rules things. So committees may not be in the actual rules package. But as you noted, Erin, he said this is just round one.
So, you know, right now, what they're really trying to do is get an agreement to they can adjourn. That's what they're pushing for right now. So even if they get an agreement on this deal, it doesn't mean Kevin McCarthy is going to have the votes tonight or even tomorrow.
There is also an incentive to wrap up the work pretty quickly because there are four members who might be out tomorrow on the Republican side. That's what we're hearing. It may be more difficult to get work done tomorrow. So that's why you're seeing them work furiously tonight with negotiations.
Kevin McCarthy has been all over the Capitol. He's been in the speaker suite and the ceremonial office and meetings on the floor, meetings in the dining room. Just to give you a sense of how many moving pieces there are right now. So all signs right now are they're moving closer to a deal. A deal that might not even get Kevin McCarthy speakership but at least a deal where Kevin McCarthy can fight for another day -- Wolf.
BURNETT: Just a few -- get him a few votes but not enough. What is so amazing from her reporting though talking about what's in the deal is what isn't, right? When she says that at least on paper committee assignments have not been discussed. We know for some of the holdouts that is crucial. So whether that is a strategic thing that he is planning to give out later or whether that would cause to lose support people that have been supporting him. That stood out from the list.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yeah. A lot of these people, they want to see it in writing. It's one thing to hear about a deal. They want to make sure it is something they really want.
Let's get some analysis right now.
John King, what's your -- what's your reaction when you hear the latest development that's Melanie just reported?
KING: It's just fascinating to hear. It shows you the leverage, the never Kevin or the anti-Kevin people think they have for Congressman Norman to say this is just round one. They've been at this for months. They've been talking about this for months throughout the whole election year if we win what happens? Put that aside. They've been that for three days. So that they can --
that the never Kevin or anti-Kevin or holdouts, whatever you want to call them, it's just proof they're going to keep asking for me. Every time they get, they ask for more.
If you look at the vote count, they believe they have the leverage even though they're in the minority, they have the leverage.
One other quick point, you see Donald Trump up there with just one vote and how embarrassing that is to him. But Matt Gaetz would nominate Donald Trump for speaker of the house on January 5th hours away from the second anniversary of January 6th just tells you thou is not a serious enterprise, how at least many of the holdouts are not serious people.
Two years ago tomorrow Donald Trump tried to steal the country, tried to overturn the election, try to subvert the democracy that lives in that building. So it just shows you that this for some of them is just not a serious enterprise. It's a protest. It's a sport, call it what you will. Matt Gaetz can choose his own words. But it's not serious. It's not about governing.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's repugnant. I mean the idea that you have a sitting member of Congress standing in the place where at the time the speaker was hunted and --
KING: The vice president of the United States.
BASH: The vice president of the United States was hunted by people stirred up by the president and now he's officially, formally nominated by one of the people who helped to turn that anger and that violence is absolutely repugnant. Yes, it's not serious. Yes, it shows how, you know, how kind of out to lunch this whole process is, but it is worse than that. It's just gross.
BLITZER: It's interesting that you don't have to be a member of the House of Representatives, Kaitlan, in order to be nominated to become the speaker of the House. To be the speaker, you don't have to be a member of -- I'm sure Trump is looking at the screen right now and sees he's got one vote and Hakeem Jeffries has 205 votes.
You covered Trump for a long time. How is he reacting to that?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I imagine he's fine with being inserted into this at all. This had been an idea that people had been talking about in his world, the idea of nominating him for this. It's less to do with Trump, more to do with the fact that they are trying to block Kevin McCarthy. That's what the focus of this from that group of Never Kevins. There is another Kevin on the board now. They're voting against him.
And, of course, Trump has been looming over all of this. But not in the way he wants. He had urged other Republicans to vote for Kevin McCarthy. It changed nothing. And so this seems to be a way for these hard-liners who are not voting
for Kevin McCarthy to get back in his good graces after they ignored his advice, which was to vote for Kevin McCarthy. Trump predicted that this would end today. That's what he wrote on Truth Social, late last night or early this morning. That has not happened obviously. This is not anywhere close as you heard from Melanie's reporting.
I think what strikes me is to see from the back room negotiations happening we're not getting details of exactly what they're agreeing on is how frantic all of this is and it speaks to the fact that this majority is so slim, a year ago, Kevin McCarthy was predicting they could flip 60 seats in the House. Look how slim the majority is that is causing him to give up all the power he would really have if he did ultimately become speaker.
BASH: And it's connected to what we were just talking about. If you look at the reason why they didn't get to where they wanted to get and people predicted they were going to get, he himself predicted, he's largely because they had so many members who were not electable, and in large part, in many cases, because of the election denialism.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's not just Matt Gaetz showing disrespect for what happened in these hallowed halls on January 6 by nominating the guy that stirred it all up. You remember a couple weeks after January 6, it was Kevin McCarthy that went down to Mar-a-Lago and said to the country overall but to the Republican Party this is okay. This now has license to be part of our DNA, the guy that stirred up January 6.
So Kevin McCarthy did that. In a lack of respect of what happened in those hallowed halls on January 6. We said this many times over the years, he didn't really seem to live up to the title of minority leader. You know, his actual title as leader. He seemed to be McCarthy, more of a follower. I think that is fully on display this week as to why this was not locked down. Why you're seeing what Kaitlan is describing a frantic process right now.
It is a failure of leadership, the actual position he is seeking. He's already shown this week even if he ends up with the gavel just the way this process is going that he doesn't have the credentials for that in terms of being able to effectively run this place.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's not forget one of the reasons he went to Mar-a-Lago was exactly for today because he wants Donald Trump's blessing because he thought he wouldn't be in this position with Donald Trump's blessing, it would take him over the top.
I just want to talk about some texts I've been getting from members who are either allies of Kevin McCarthy or have been voting with him. One of them said to me we don't know what's in this package. There is already concern that Kevin McCarthy is giving away the store and that apart from the chaos and dysfunction that it is likely to bring as they go forward, they don't know what's in the works.
I just want to come back finally to that one vote for Donald Trump. The votes against Kevin McCarthy are all protest votes at this point. They could have more of them voted for Donald Trump. They didn't.
I think it is very significant. They're not scared of him and it speaks to how his power has really diminished, at least with this group.
BLITZER: It's interesting, John. All 11 -- now 11 role calls have had the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives do better than the Republican leader even though the Republicans have majority in the House.
KING: It's -- yeah, it's hard to remember sometimes that it's a majority Republican house. Because the Republicans are a family divided. And, you know, some Republicans out there say well it's only 20. But when you have 222, you cannot afford to lose. Kevin McCarthy cannot lose more than four votes. If people go home, maybe that number moves a little bit.
But it is a stunning reminder, and the circumstances are different, I get it.
But Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats were able to pass very significant legislation, very significant legislation. Some of which became law. Some of which then died in the Senate. But they were able to pass very significant controversial legislation within the Democratic Party with 222 votes. The Republicans have 222 votes and they can't even pick a leader.
So this is just chapter one. Whoever gets that gavel then has to lead a very unruly, disruptive, many of them anti-governing sheep. And so whether it's the debt ceiling, whether -- let's say, for example, Joe Biden actually gave -- he's going to go to the border tomorrow. They've been telling him forever, he should go to the border.
What if Joe Biden actually proposed a reasonable border deal? I'll give you border secure things that Democrats will be mad about, but I will give me a guest worker program, if you finally make this Dreamers citizens of the United States. A bill that would if everyone is on truth serum have giant bipartisan support.
They wouldn't vote for it. They would vacate the chair. If any Republican speaker would try to sign on, they would kick them out. Then there is the debt ceiling and then there's more.
BLITZER: We just heard from the negotiators trying to come up with a compromise that it doesn't look like the votes right now to go ahead and adjourn which is what Kevin McCarthy would like to see happen. So they can do all of this in private.
Erin, lots going on right now. I covered Congress for a long time. I certainly never seen anything like this.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean, it is incredible. As Wolf is saying, it sounds like they don't have the votes to adjourn. Patrick McHenry is saying that. I want to bring in now Republican Congressman Troy Nehls. He stood to nominate Kevin McCarthy if you've been watching us today on the ninth ballot.
Congressman, here we are. I just mentioned Patrick McHenry, a key negotiator. He is trying to lock in support for McCarthy for speaker he just said the House is not going to adjourn any time soon. Are you prepared go all night?
REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): I'm a combat veteran and served in law enforcement for 30 years. I can be here until July.
BURNETT: And are you -- is that -- is that a metaphor for how you feel about this? Is your support for Kevin McCarthy -- there is nothing that can break or shake it at this point?
NEHLS: Listen, I don't know if you are aware of, young lady, but I'm also a member of the House Freedom Caucus. So, I am one of those America First patriots. I said to my friends, my colleagues in the Freedom Caucus that I don't believe that this is the battle we should be waging. I think the real battle starts when we start drafting legislation and policy in the 118th Congress under a Speaker McCarthy.
And you have to understand, the viewers have to understand, there is 35-40 of us in the house freedom caucus. If we have a simple small thin margin of 222 Republicans, it takes 218 of us to pass any legislation, right? The House Freedom Caucus is more relevant than ever. So I believe that is the battle. Those are the conversations that should take place.
Because Kevin McCarthy understands that in order for him to pass anything in this 118th Congress, he's going to need support and endorsement from the House Freedom Caucus. That's when I believe we should have these conversations.
BURNETT: So, I assume when you called me a young lady, that was a compliment.
NEHLS: Of course, it was. This is my first time in the Clinton news network, absolutely.
BURNETT: OK. That I was will say was a bit, in my opinion, rude. But I'm glad you're talking to me and I will treat you with the respect that you deserve.
BURNETT: Do you believe that there is going to be any sort of a deal that will get those five holdouts? And let me ask you, how many holdouts do you count there are? Are there five? Are there seven? Are there eight?
NEHLS: Well, that's what's being reported. You know, you have five or so that have said they will never be McCarthy. But we have to understand, too, that Kevin McCarthy has a large majority of the conference. He has their support. There's 201 or so that support him. Now let's hypothetically say there's 160 that are saying nobody else but McCarthy. That's what I think the four or five have to look at. I mean, majority of the conference supports Kevin McCarthy. He came up with a great plan with the Commitment to America to help secure our southern border, fix the inflation, look at all the crisises we have going on in this country and I believe we have a road map to fix those.
The American people gave us the gavel on January 8th because they're begging for leadership. They're giving the Republicans a gavel. Let's lead.
BURNETT: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
NEHLS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And as we were speaking, I just want everyone to know that Matt Gaetz and Joe Neguse were actually involved in a conversation on the House floor. As we're watching the tea leaves and every single conversation, I'll just bring that one to everyone's attention.
Of course, Congressman Gaetz just nominated Trump to be speaker.
As we continue our breaking news coverage, we're now learning President Biden has been watching the chaos surrounding the race for speaker. He's been getting briefed on it regularly. We're going to go live to the White House with more on that next.
BURNETT: And welcome back to our special coverage. The House now in the 11th round of voting for the House speaker -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's very dramatic, Erin, with Kevin McCarthy right now on the verge of officially suffering his 11th -- 11th defeat including five defeats today. The chaos on Capitol Hill, something that President Biden and his White House are paying very close attention to and for good reason.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly.
Phil, what you are hearing from the White House about how this is all unfolding?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Wolf, there are practical reasons to be paying attention. There are obviously legislative and political reasons to be paying attention. But one thing that so striking is when you contrast the drama on Capitol Hill in that House chamber with what you're hearing from White House officials here.
There's a sense of normalcy to some degree. That is very, very noticeable given how things are playing out on Capitol Hill. When you talk to advisors, they make very clear they don't want to weigh in on what's happening on Capitol Hill. They are certainly watching. The president has tuned in at various points throughout the course of the last three days. He's been briefed on how this process is playing out or to some degree not playing out over the course of the last three days.
And they're keenly aware of the dynamics at play here. But they also had the view when you talk to White House officials that their job at this point to some degree at least according to one official I spoke to was to show that they're the adults in the room. This official said we're going to keep showing that we're here to get stuff done. There was obviously a very noticeable split screen when he appeared with Mitch McConnell in Kentucky to talk about his infrastructure law.
But today, to some degree, was no different at all. The president holding a meeting with his entire cabinet. Talking about the implementation of the major laws he passed in the first two years and also holding a notable immigration speech on a very difficult issue for this administration to grapple with before heading over to sign a condolence book for Pope Benedict earlier tonight.
It is just a regular schedule to some degree. And that is intentional. When you talk to officials leading into this house Republican majority, they continue to reiterate that they wanted to show that contrast as much as they possibly could, the political sense of things but also on the policy side. And that was what the president was going to be continuing to focus on throughout the weeks and months ahead.
To some degree, it will be central focus of his state of the union when that occurs. The speaker needs to actually invite him to do that. I don't think anybody thought it was going to be this acute, this dramatic this early on.
One final thing I would note, Wolf, the president talking about immigration, giving a speech about immigration, deciding to go to the border on Sunday, something Republicans have called for for the better part two of years and something the president resisted because he's viewed it primarily as political theater, this is a moment that Republicans have an opportunity to engage on an issue they have attacked the president and his team on relentlessly over the course of the last two years.
They're nowhere to be found. And that wasn't necessary intentional. White House officials made clear they've been planning these immigration related items for several weeks now. But the fact that they are engaging on this, the president is confronting this issue at the border and going to physically go down there and House Republicans are battling among themselves who knows what this is going to mean weeks or months from now.
But there is a dominance of the message right now when it comes to the day-to-day policy aspects of what's happening in Washington, what's happening in the country and House Republicans are not even in the game to some degree. They can't get their stuff together on the House floor, Wolf.
BLITZER: Curious what you're hearing from your source officials there at the White House, Phil. Is there any chance that the White House might actually step in and try to help the Republicans at any point deal with this crisis that's unfolding in the House of Representatives?
MATTINGLY: Yeah. I asked about this probably 24 hours ago. And I was greeted with a laugh and absolutely no chance. So it seems very unlikely. I think, look, it's been interesting to watch the president. He's engaged on this even while his team chooses no to over the course of the last three days several times with reporters. And his response has kind of evolved over the course of the last several days. I think there was initial concern when Democrats were amused enjoyed certain aspects of things.
It demonstrated the U.S. government once again was having problems with just the basic function, something he long raised concerns about in terms of how that looks to foreign leaders, how it looks to countries around the world.
But earlier today after those immigration remarks, he was asked if he was still monitoring things and the president said I've been monitoring them with great -- and then paused and looked at Kamala Harris and said -- attention. And he said attention. Smiled, shook his head, shook his head and walked out. There is a level of befuddlement at this point, Wolf.
BLITER: Yeah, befuddlement, good word.
All right. Thanks very much, Phil. Appreciate it.
Erin, this is still unfolding. We don't know what's going to happen in the next hour or two.
BURNETT: No, we don't. I mean, it is a complete unknown. We know that Kevin McCarthy wanted to adjourn. Maybe didn't have the votes. Then, Patrick McHenry said they're going to be there a long time.
Scott, what are you hearing right now?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One member on the floor told me looks like the Republicans may try to get to an adjournment motion here shortly. I assume the Democrats are going to whip against that. So, if the Republicans were able to get the votes together to adjourn, that likely signals that McCarthy made some kind of progress in this meeting he's been having with the 20 holdouts. But I think this is going to unfold here in the next few minutes.
BURNETT: All right. And here's the thing, David. The details of adjournment matter. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.
JENNINGS: Noon tomorrow was what I heard --
BURNETT: Noon tomorrow?
JENNINGS: Yeah. BURNETT: Okay. So, if it's noon tomorrow, then you're coming back into session, by our understanding, you're going to have at least four Republicans who are not there and those four Republicans re McCarthy supporters.
Ken Buck would be the fifth. He's not there now. I don't know when he's returning. But that makes the math even more difficult. So you're coming back into session even if you're making progress with less support.
URBAN: And I don't think you're going to get. There I think they're going to continue to work.
I've been saying this since we started, don't let anybody leave the room. Keep everybody in the room. I think they'll come back and stay there on Saturday if they have to on Sunday and you'll get a deal at some point, right?
You may not come up with the five or six outstanding people but you'll get as close as you're going to get.
BURNETT: And you think --
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: God forbid they work over the weekend in this dysfunction and disgrace to our democracy. I mean, look, you know, let's -- I guess Kevin McCarthy needs credit. He made history already today. Not since the civil war have we seen this level of dysfunction under anyone's watch.
BURNETT: Only when the twinkle in your eye was visible that I knew --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's good of you to give him credit.
AVLON: I thought it was important to do right now. But in all seriousness, look, if the biggest win can you get is live to fight another day, I guess that's good for Kevin McCarthy. Not sure it's good -- it's not particularly good for the republic. There is still no end in sight and the compromises and concessions being made are going to further hobble this Congress' ability to get anything done in what let us not forget a divided Congress. It's going to require some compromise. If that is hobbled out of the gate, what is the important of running the race?
AXELROD: You know, I think, and those of that have been around the Congress and legislative bodies that understand if you rally your troops behind them, then you rally them against something else. And what he has been doing for the last few days is rallying his troops against this core group of opponents saying if they -- we can't let them win. And letting them win, he defines as me losing.
We can't -- no one else can win otherwise they win. So, you know, this is a tactic that he's -- URBAN: And again, we were talking about this before off air. Kevin
McCarthy lost an election night. He had 222 votes, we knew this was coming. He was never going to have an aggressive legislative agenda. You're going to have oversight, you're going to have problems with fund the government, basic, basic tasks. And you would need Democratic help to lift the debt ceiling, all those things are going to require working across the aisle as much as Republicans might hate to admit it. It's going to be what's necessary.
AXELROD: Yeah. Erin, I want to say something about Phil Mattingly and his report. You know, one of the reasons Joe Biden got elected is because he looked like an antidote to the chaos of the Trump years. The reason that Democrats did better than expected in November is because there was a sense that Biden was a calming influence.
BURNETT: All right. Let's listen in. She has just gaveled the House in again. So let's see what's about to happen.
URBAN: Most important woman in Washington.
BURNETT: All right. She did gavel.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what we're waiting on is to see whether the Republicans can put together a motion to adjourn here and can they get the votes to adjourn until noon tomorrow? And if they do, that probably signals some help for Kevin.
BURNETT: Gaveled again.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I --
CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: The tellers agree in their tallies that the total number of votes cast is 432, of which the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries of the state of New York has receive New York has received 212.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The Honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California has received 200.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The Honorable Byron Donalds of the state of Florida has received 12.
The Honorable Kevin Hern of the state of Oklahoma has received 7.
The Honorable Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida has received one.
(LAUGHTER) JOHNSON: With one recorded as present.
No nominee having received the majority of the votes cast, a speaker has not been elected.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Louisiana seek recognition?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Madam Clerk, I move that the house stands adjourned until tomorrow.
JOHNSON: The question is on the motion that the House stands adjourned until noon tomorrow.
Those in favor say aye.
JOHNSON: Those opposed no.
JOHNSON: And the opinion of the chair, the no's have it.
The yeas and nays are requested. Those in favor of the vote by the yeas and nays will rise. A sufficient number haven't risen. The yays and nays are ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device.
This will be a 15-minute vote.
BURNETT: Okay, 15 minutes. Can I just say, the drama of that moment was incredible?
HOOVER: It's incredible. The clerk giving it to the nos. I want to stay here and keep counting your votes over and over again. It was pretty unbelievable.
Look, one thing David said earlier was that, you know, if you're in Kevin McCarthy's position, you are in a position of saying if they win, I -- you lose, right? It's the us against them. It's the demonizing the opponent.
That is the thing that is keeping this going. But the reality is that beneath that veneer is the narcissism and the egotism of one person, and that is Kevin McCarthy. All of this that we're watching, that we're covering, that America is watching, the White House is watching is frankly the erosion of confidence of one chamber of our legislative branch because of the ambition and ego of one man.
URBAN: I don't know, I would say --
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually. Let's just take a minute here. We didn't get here by accident. This moment has been years in the making. So much of what we have seen playing itself out today is a proxy fight for what we have seen playing itself out throughout the Republican Party. We sat here on election night. And I said this is the party that the
GOP has wrought. This is how we got here.
HOOVER: That is true.
CORNISH: Not just because of Kevin McCarthy.
BURNETT: They wouldn't have brought this to the floor if they didn't think they have the votes. But right now, I don't know what people think they have -- can I just say, play this out as we're waiting here for the next ten minutes, what if they lose? What if they do not get a motion to adjourn?
JENNINGS: This is a huge vote. I assume Steve Scalise thinks he has the votes or he wouldn't have done it, but this is a big vote and will tell us whether Kevin moved people in that meeting.
BURNETT: This is a crucial vote. All right. We're going to squeeze a break in as the electronic votes are happening. Please do not go anywhere.
Our breaking news coverage continues. The results of this vote will be on the other side of this break.
BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT in our breaking coverage of the speaker vote. The House voting now on whether to adjourn. It's a crucial vote. It's been a chaotic day.
Republicans battling it out over who will be the speaker of the House. It's completely deadlocked. One Democratic congressman now suggesting he could support a moderate Republican for speaker with some conditions, as we're now actually these kind of scenarios are possibly on the table.
Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California is with me now.
Congressman, let's just first start with this vote. This is a huge vote, whether Kevin McCarthy can succeed in getting Congress to adjourn until tomorrow. This actually is a huge vote.
Obviously, do you think he's got the votes from what you understand on the floor?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I haven't been able to predict anything this week. So I don't know if they have the votes. But I'll tell you, I voted no. I think we ought to stay here in the People's House until we have a speaker.
If we have to stay here all night, if we have to stay here all weekend, I don't understand why we're adjourning. In other workplaces, if you don't get the job done, you stay at work. You don't just get to go home. BURNETT: So we're in a situation where this is happening because the
Republicans are not able to get the votes together to pick a speaker. You have come out, Congressman, and said something early. You were bold in saying it, that you are open to crossing party lines to support specifically a moderate Republican for speaker.
You named Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Gallagher, or David Joyce. Have you had any talks today about this possibility?
KHANNA: Well, first, I said that I'd love to see six Republicans vote for Hakeem Jeffries. But I said at the same time that I'd be open to looking at a Republican if they made certain important concessions. If they agreed that they wouldn't hold this country hostage to a debt ceiling debate, if they wouldn't hold the country hostage to a shutdown, and if they wouldn't have a unilateral subpoena power where they go launch frivolous investigations against the president.
Now, some Democrats have criticized this. And here is my question to them. Would they rather have a Kevin McCarthy or whoever make deals with the far right, which is going to mean two years of utter division, possible default on the debt ceiling, or should we look to have someone who is going to work cooperatively with this president? I think we have to look at all alternatives.
BURNETT: So, in your conversations with your colleagues, your Democratic colleagues specifically, are there others who feel the way you feel?
KHANNA: Sure. But I don't think they are necessarily going to be public. And look, we've been very unified. We have voted for Hakeem Jeffries I think ten times in a row united. The first option can be can we get six Republicans to vote for Hakeem Jeffries? I think that would be the best solution for the country.
But if we can't, then we have to look at the alternative. And one of those alternatives is can we get some key concessions from a Republican and have a coalition that way?
That is far preferable to what's going on today, which is that Kevin McCarthy is moving further and further to the right, and basically, if he does succeed, is going to sell the House to the farthest right part of the Republican Party, where you have some members saying, we want to default on the debt. That's the only way we're going to vote for Kevin McCarthy.
I just don't understand how that is a good outcome for this president, for the country, or the Democratic Party.
BURNETT: So there is -- I mean, just to be clear here, to state what you're saying a different way, there is no way you would ever support anything like a rules change to allow a speaker to be picked by a simple majority that would help Kevin McCarthy or any other way that would help Kevin McCarthy given what you're saying?
KHANNA: No, no. I would certainly defer to Hakeem Jeffries in terms of any negotiation directly with Kevin McCarthy. But he could have come to Hakeem Jeffries, just like John Boehner came to Nancy Pelosi to save this country in the financial crisis.
He could have come to Hakeem. He has chosen instead to deal with the far right and make concession after concession. And that should be -- I get right now, it's a Republican mess. But, look, it's going to be a mess for the United States of America if we have a speaker of the House beholden to the farthest right.
BURNETT: All right. Congressman Khanna, I appreciate your time. Always appreciate speaking to you.
KHANNA: Thank you.
BURNETT: OK. 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.
And our special coverage of that vote and the vote for speaker continues now with "AC360".