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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: House In Session After McCarthy Rejected Three Times As Speaker; Fourth Speaker Vote Expected As McCarthy's Path Remains Uncertain; Second Term GOP Rep. Nominated For House Speaker. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired January 04, 2023 - 12:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The impasse means total paralysis in the U.S. House of Representatives. No members of Congress, no members elect. Will be swan in, no legislation could be considered. No committee assignments can be doled out. There are no rules. That's one of the reasons I think why we're seeing all these cool shots by C-SPAN. Nobody's blocking them from doing it.

Source is now telling CNN that McCarthy dispatch top lieutenants to negotiate with the opposition now up to 20 members, opposing McCarthy to see if there is any deal that can be made. In this moment, it's unclear if there is any concession that the hardliners will accept beyond Kevin McCarthy, taking his name out of consideration.

And it's unclear if the House adjourns as soon as it gavels in, or if the opposition is going to force McCarthy to stomach another vote and likely public humiliation. CNN's Capitol Hill team is tracking every development on very little sleep. Let's check in with Manu Raju. Manu, McCarthy allies remain worried. And now they're worried that they might even begin to hemorrhage, even more support on a potential fourth ballot.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And that's been the reason why there have been active discussions to try to delay today's vote, moved to adjourn the House immediately as they come into session here at noon. But here's the problem. They don't have the votes to do that.

And I just talked to two Republican members of the leadership team who just left Kevin McCarthy's office, Richard Hudson and Tom Emmer, both of them said the vote is going to happen at noon. They expect that to happen. And the reason why they don't have the votes to delay it, because Democrats don't want to supply them any help. They want Kevin McCarthy to go through this again, where he's almost certainly expected to lose the votes to become speaker.

One of the problems has been that the McCarthy emissaries have been dispatched over the past day to try to get a deal with these dissidents, have had a hard time actually nailing down the exact demands of those opponents. They want to understand what exactly they want, come back to the rest of the Republican conference and say, can you all agree to this. But they have not been able to get those in writing, which is why they are in a position where they are now, where they're expected to lose this vote again. And the, Jake, the real fear of among McCarthy allies, is that the opposition will grow and will undercut any effort for McCarthy to regain any momentum here, which is why this moment so critical for McCarthy, the House and the Republican Party.

TAPPER: All right. We're listening to the Clerk of the House, the Honorable Cheryl Johnson on the left there - and there, here comes the morning prayer. Dana Bash, we don't know what's going to happen again. We have no idea what's going to happen. And let me just say, like, usually we have an idea. Usually, we have some sort of idea.


TAPPER: Usually, they have some idea, exactly.

BASH: They have absolutely no idea. But what we do know is that, you know, sometimes when you have up to 20, people who are intransigent and are preventing something from happening, like this vote, some the person who's in Kevin McCarthy's position, says, OK, uncle, and that's what he did in 2015. He didn't have the votes, he gave up. He is doing the opposite this time, and in a very ugly way. Obviously, we're seeing it play out.

But it's not just him doing it on his own. He's doing it, because he is being pressured and encouraged by so many members, so many of his rank and file. Again, we need to underscore this, not necessarily because they're all dying for Kevin McCarthy to be speaker of the House. But because they see this as a tool for beating back those rebels, who are from the perspective of most House Republicans just doing this for their own notoriety, for their own power, and not necessarily for a greater good of policy, or even politics.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's symbolic on both sides at this point. And that's what makes it so hard to resolve this standoff. I do think that we are at the point now, where the reason this is so hard to figure out a path out is because a lot of these members who are in the 20 don't actually have anything that they want. So, there's therefore nothing that Kevin McCarthy can give them.

Their demands are sort of like opaque there, you know, beating back the swamp and what does that even mean? And I think that if you're trying to find a path out, you have to first at least know what that means. And I think that's why so many people are at a loss for words right now. You can't negotiate with people who are just sort of talking about rainbows and butterflies.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Could I just say, I think we do know what they want. They don't want Kevin McCarthy.

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: It is personal. And you know, not to use the joke twice, but welcome to day two of the Republican majority. This is a mess. This is a disaster.

TAPPER: Let's listen in to the Clerk of the House.

(Video Playing)


TAPPER: OK. So, it's a quorum call right now. Jamie Gangel, I'm sorry. Please continue.

GANGEL: So, this is obviously a disaster for Kevin McCarthy and no matter how many times he walks by the cameras and says to Manu and the rest of our team, you know, we have the votes, we're going to get there. Yesterday, we saw it move in the opposite direction. I think it's also important to speak today about Donald Trump, who Kaitlan pointed out all day yesterday, he was quiet.

He has now made statement, a statement in support of Kevin McCarthy. He has made calls and guess what, it doesn't seem to be changing a thing. Nobody is scared of Donald Trump. No one is influenced by Donald Trump. And I think that says a lot about Donald Trump as well as about McCarthy.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is so much, and also it was a statement in support of Kevin McCarthy, but it also kind of wasn't. I mean, he did say that Republicans should vote for McCarthy. But then he said, Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, maybe even a great job. Wasn't this really big (crosstalk).

Yes. It was like is one of December. And I was talking to people who were speaking to the former president yesterday, as he was watching all this play out. They thought there was a real risk where he may backtrack on what this is going to look like.

TAPPER: It look like from the comment he gave NBC as well.

PHILLIP: I think McCarthy was worried about that too because they (crosstalk).

COLLINS: So, they absolutely worried. And Kevin McCarthy notice came out last night and told Manu, I still have the support of the former president. I was told yesterday. They were trying to get Trump to put that statement out yesterday. He declined to do so until this morning at about 7 am.

And I do think it speaks to the fact that Trump does not have a lot of influence in this because you saw Brian Mast this morning saying, I don't think that's going to be the end all be all. It's not going to get these 20 Republicans, a lot of them who are loyal to Trump to come across the line. It just shows the complication (crosstalk).

BASH: One of the big reasons Kevin McCarthy is in this mess is because he gave the former president oxygen after January 6. He went down to Mar-a-Lago and open everything back up for him when he could have done the opposite.

TAPPER: There's McCarthy right now, trying to make his way through a throng of journalists.

BASH: Right. But the calculation, Trump would always - Trump would always be incredibly popular with the base. And now, what you're seeing is, I talked to an ally of Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, who said that the former president is calling some of these 20. And he doesn't have the juice anymore. Right?

TAPPER: When he saw Matt Gaetz, Congressman Matt Gaetz actually even made fun of Trump in a comment that he made to Fox, when Trump put out the statement back in McCarthy-Gaetz, one of the leaders of the rebellion, wrote sad, making fun of how Trump tweets.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right? No. I mean, look, I think at this point Trump would have more influence in the process, if he were to suddenly say that they need to get rid of Kevin McCarthy or something along those lines, because it's very clear that he doesn't have the power anymore to actually give Kevin McCarthy the speakership. And, you know, I think the - I don't know if it's an irony or exactly how to put it.

But this is a moment where Kevin McCarthy, the anger among his supporters, at this group of rebels, is at an all-time high. There are a lot of people who are supporting Kevin McCarthy, who are saying, you know, we cannot give in to them again, because they feel like they've spent the last however many years, giving in and giving in and giving in and these rebels or the Freedom Caucus.

Or however you want to kind of characterize this group, keeps moving the goalposts, keep saying, OK, we've got what we want. Now we want more. And a lot of the rest of the governing wing of the conservative are - they're fed up with it, but Kevin McCarthy has indulged them at every single turn. And this is the fruit of that.

TAPPER: So, there are - let us acknowledge that there are legitimate things that this group of rebels has asked for some other things. 72 hours between introducing a bill on the floor and voting, right?

HUNT: But like, Kevin McCarthy has given them that.

TAPPER: Right. No, I know that. But here's another one from one of the rebels. Congressman elect, Josh McKean (Ph), who one of the things in his press release yesterday says that, when his mentor Tom Coburn served in the seat, more than 50 percent of all major bills operated under open or modified open rules and could be amended on the floor, a balanced budget was accomplished in that era, today 0 percent of major bills can be amended on the floor, absent permission, blah, blah, blah.

But the point is, that's actually like a very detailed request. I want this rule that would allow us to amend the bills in an open process without the speaker just automatically denying it. That doesn't seem like no, it's certainly a recipe for more chaos. But it doesn't seem like an unreasonable request.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That particular request is actually a request for a better democracy. Some of the requests, you know, we want a special committee to investigate Biden and we want Matt Gaetz to have the gavel or somebody like Matt Gaetz, you know, Kevin McCarthy is never going to agree to that.


Something like that, God forbid, our elected representatives, Democrats or Republicans actually have to go to the floor and debate policies, and vote on amendments, right? But the leadership doesn't want that. If you're Kevin McCarthy, you don't want that because your majority is so narrow that the Democrats could actually pass amendments. They would only need to find a handful of Republicans to go with them to pass amendments. So as a power play, speaker McCarthy doesn't want that.

But to the Trump point, Trump is popular with the base, and he's popular in most of us House Republicans, there's a huge difference between popular and powerful. Trump is not powerful anymore. They don't see him as powerful. They do not fear him. The other message, yes, the main thing they want is Kevin McCarthy to gavel, because they view him as K Street.

But they're also sending a message, Jake, to everybody else, that we will have a speaker of the Month Club (Ph), unless you give us more power, because we will have the votes to remove whoever gets the job.

TAPPER: Let's listen in to the Honorable Cheryl Johnson, who is the Clerk of the House. They're bringing the tellers up, these are the individuals that help count and figure out how many people have voted and for whom, they are assigned members of Congress. I believe, former congressman Rodney Davis was one of them two years ago. And let's listen.

(Video Playing)

TAPPER: All right. We are waiting for the House of Representatives to get its act together. In more ways than one, we are waiting for that to happen. John King, I'm sorry. I cut you off before, please continue.

KING: Just these rebels, you keep asking what do they want? Kevin McCarthy has keeps giving and giving and giving. And they have to come to the realization on team McCarthy that what they want is him to step aside. But the reason so many of his own people are so far refusing to say, OK Kevin, you have to look in the mirror and do the math.

And presenting an alternative is because the message those rebels are sending to Kevin McCarthy is also a message to anybody who steps up to replace Kevin McCarthy. That with this narrow majority if we don't like the way things are going, and we will come after you next. And so, the Republicans have a fundamental problem here because you have 19 of the 20.

Who, more or less don't care about governing, don't care about the party, don't care about the institution, don't care about Washington, or not thinking that the American people actually just voted for normal. And they're being anything but normal. They won't, you know, they can't pick a leader because they don't care. Most of them go home to very safe districts. Most of them believe this is what their constituents want, or this is the brand they want, win or lose.

And they show no - at the moment, absolutely zero inclination play unless Kevin McCarthy puts them in charge of everything. And that's what everyone around Kevin McCarthy says, we cannot let this happen if you give them anymore that we will (crosstalk).

TAPPER: Let's listen in Congressman Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER, (R) WISCONSIN: Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate the gentleman from California, Mr. Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.

CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: The gentleman is recognized. The gentleman is recognized.

REP. GALLAGHER: Let's all take a second. Take a look around. I know people are getting frustrated. Take a look at this chamber and realize how lucky we are to serve this country in Congress. How lucky we all are, Democrats and Republicans to be citizens of the greatest country in the history of the world.


He's definitely out of order, Madame Clerk. I say that because I know last night people were frustrated. They wanted to go to parties. They want to take pictures with their families. But honestly, we find ourselves here in this chamber for the second day. We know we got work to do, but in some ways there's no place. I'd rather be with the possible exception of Lambeau Field on Sunday, no place I'd rather be.

But maybe with the excitement, some of you hadn't had an opportunity to check what's happening online. Let me fill you in on what's happening on Twitter, what the press is writing about, in some ways, they're salivating, there's headlines about the chaos, this and that.

Yesterday, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, were tweeting their bags of popcorn that they had out, they love it, the shot in Freud (Ph) is palpable. But I think my friends on the Democratic side misunderstand what's happening here. Sure, it looks messy, but Democracy is messy. Democracy is messy by design, by design. And that's a feature. That's a feature, not a bug of our system.

We air it all out in the open for the American people to see, because at the end of the day, the president is not in-charge, the Supreme Court is not in-charge, speaker of the House is not in-charge, the American people are in charge.

I'm proud to be part of a party that welcomes debate that invites different views that isn't afraid of that. Now I listen to some of my colleagues yesterday. Mr. Roy from Texas, my good friend, he knows I respect his views, I have been his partner in anti-proxy voting crusades, pro regular order crusades. I understand, I know that his intentions are pure. I know a lot of people are just frustrated with the way Congress works.

But and Chip, you know, I believe that in my bones, nobody has done more to lay out a plan for how we restore the basic functioning of this institution, then Kevin McCarthy, nobody, nobody has done that. Now, you may not have gotten everything you want. There are things I want, that I know, which is not possible to get done in this Congress.

But Mr. McCarthy has gone above and beyond in terms of listening to people with concerns and laying out a plan for how we restore the basic functioning of the House of Representatives. Furthermore, I believe no one has done more to bring us into the majority than Kevin McCarthy.

I wish we had a bigger majority, right? I wish we could do everything over the next two years. But the American people gave us an opportunity. They gave us Republicans an opportunity to inject some basic common sense into the federal government to pull the emergency brake on a lot of the crazy we've seen in the last few years.

They're asking us to do a job. And nobody has laid out a plan, a proactive policy agenda for the direction we want to take this country in more detail than Kevin McCarthy, you all had an opportunity to provide input into that plan.

And the irony of this current moment, and this debate we're having is that on the big stuff we all agree, right? We want to secure the border. We don't want the executive branch to do everything through a pen and a phone. We want to work with our Democratic colleagues when it comes to standing up to our enemies abroad, right? There are basic things we know we need to do. It is time to get to work.

So, you might tweet out some more popcorn emojis, I get it. You might write your headlines. But what I see right now is energy. A tremendous amount of energy in this Republican Caucus who want to do the work of the people. Mr. McCarthy is not asking you to endorse business as usual in the House.


He's laid out a plan to renew the House of Representatives and once again make it an institution that we can credibly look ourselves in the mirror and say we are working in the people's House. For that and many other reasons, I nominate Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from California rise?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D) CALIFORNIA: Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate Hakeem Jeffries, the Speaker of this House.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

AGUILAR: Madam Clerk, make no mistake, there is no frustration on our side. We are focused on serving the American people. In order to do that, we have to unite behind the speaker and Democrats are united behind a speaker who prioritizes putting better paying jobs in industries of the future. Growing up in a working-class family, he knows that a good paying job and a good education are key to economic mobility.

He knows that to tackle the affordability crisis in this country, we need to make sure that everybody gets paid enough to live and work in any zip code. And he knows that by creating these jobs, we can once again make it in America. Madam Clerk, as chair of the Democratic Caucus, I am directed by that vote of the caucus to present for election to the 118th Congress, the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, Representative elect for the state of New York, for the office of speaker.

JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from Texas rise?

REP. CHIP ROY (R) TEXAS: I seek place nomination for speaker.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

ROY: Yesterday my first vote for speaker of the House was for Byron Donalds. Today I'm rising to nominate Byron Donalds for speaker of the House of Representatives. Byron is a dear friend, a solid conservative, but most importantly, a family man who loves dearly his wife Erika, his three children, has a proven track record as a businessman, public service in the Florida Legislature, and now as a member of the United States Congress.

Now, here we are. And for the first time in history, there have been two black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House. However, under speaker order or Madam Clerk order, we do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin but rather the content of their character.


Byron Donalds is good man, raised by single mom to moved past adversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21 and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and for this country. And he has done it admirably. But there's an important reason for nominating Byron, and that is, this country needs a change. This country needs leadership that does not reflect this city, this town that is badly broken.

The House of Representatives is the people's House. It represents the entirety of our country. And we each represent some 750,000 people. And we come here and here we sit in a room filled with those representatives. And my friend, Mr. Gallagher, and he is my friend. And I agree with him on many things. And I agree with almost everything that you were talking about.

But we shouldn't be in here having this kind of a conversation with this many people in the room about Ukraine. And we should debate the merits, and we should debate the ups and downs of being involved, we should debate the $45 billion, we should debate whether it should be more or less, we should debate whether it should be paid for, we should debate what the result we should demand. The only way you're going to get that is, is if you change the roles, and have the leadership to advance the roles to make sure that we can do that. Now, we've had a conversation for two months to try to advance the ball. And we have had success in doing that, but we're not there.

We're not at the place where we need to be to guarantee, to guarantee that we're going to be able to stand up in the face of the swamp that continues to step over the American people on a daily basis and spend money we don't have, and to continue to leave our borders open, and to continue to fund bureaucrats that are stepping over the freedoms of the American people.

Byron will stand up and do that. Byron has a track record of doing that. And importantly, when we're sitting here today, and we continue this debate with them have a vote. I just asked my friends on this side of the aisle.

Do you think that the American people support the status, "Yes or no?" Do you think that the American people want us to continue down the road of what we've been doing? Do they want us to continue to do the things since the leadership that's currently in place have been in place? Do you think they want us to continue down that path?

And the argument that I would make is that they want a new face, new vision, new leadership, and I believe that face vision and new leadership is Byron Donalds. And I'm proud to put his name into nomination and I yield back.

JOHNSON: The Reading Clerk will call the roll.

TYLEASE ALLI, READING CLERK: Adams, Jeffries, Aderholt, McCarthy, Aguilar, Jeffries, Alford, McCarthy, Allen, McCarthy, Allred, Jeffries, Amodei, McCarthy, Armstrong, McCarthy, Arrington, McCarthy, Auchincloss, Jeffries, Babin, McCarthy.