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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: House Taking 13th Speaker Vote After McCarthy Flips Holdouts. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 06, 2023 - 14:00   ET




REP. JAMES COMER, (R-KY): Those of us who had kids in the public school system can testify that our kids have lost a year of their education because of the force of virtual learning that so many of our schools put our children through during the COVID pandemic. Congress ran the dept up, at least $3 trillion in the name of COVID-19. Yet as I mentioned earlier, there has not been a single hearing in the Oversight Committee to deal with potential waste, fraud, or abuse as COVID funds, not a single hearing.

And we all know despite what Dr. Fauci said, American tax dollars were sent through the eco Health Alliance to the Wuhan lab in China for a gain of function research. But yet, Dr. Fauci hasn't come before Congress in the House of Representatives. The American people deserve answers of COVID-19. And speaker Kevin McCarthy has given the Republican majority the tools necessary to make that possible.

The Democrats have spent the past six years investigating a president for potential wrongdoing in Ukraine and Russia. And let me say this loud and clear. The Republicans will also investigate a president for potential wrongdoing in Ukraine and Russia, as well as China. The American people have a lot of questions for Dr. Fauci, Christopher Wray, Merrick Garland, Secretary Mayorkas. We can't have those questions -- we can't ask those questions until we get organized and elect our speaker.

The role of the Oversight Committee under Speaker Pelosi was a full- time committee to harass the previous president, a committee to advocate for wage social issues to which the Oversight Committee has absolutely no jurisdiction, and a committee totally uninterested in the American taxpayer. In a Republican majority under speaker Kevin McCarthy, and many of my friends embedded in these negotiations, the House Oversight Committee with strong members -- members, like Byron Donalds and Andy Biggs, and Jim Jordan, will return to its original mission of identifying waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government and holding unelected bureaucrats accountable.

In a Republican majority under Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the forgotten working men and women's voices will finally be heard and represented. And in a Republican majority under speaker Kevin McCarthy, this broken Congress will only be fixed and we will return to regular order, and we will drag those senators kicking and screaming along with us every step of the way. We will return to regular order. We will get the backs of the American taxpayer. This is the people's House. Let's get to work. Madam Clerk, I'm proud to nominate Kevin McCarthy to be the next speaker of the United States House of Representatives and I yield back.

CHERYL JOHNSON, CLERK OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Texas rise?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR, (D-TX): Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate a great leader, a unifier not a divider, Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

JOHNSON: The gentlewoman is recognized.

ESCOBAR: We are on day four, the 13th vote, and House Democrats continue to stand united with Hakeem Jeffries, with him and for him because he is a uniter, not a divider, and a positive force of nature. Two days ago, during the fourth, fifth, maybe the sixth roll call, a nominator claimed this process should not be considered dysfunction.


Madam Clerk, their process didn't begin this week. They've had months to figure this out. And Americans should have profound concerns about what this portends as we gather here in this chamber on this solemn day, the second anniversary of January 6, when members of law enforcement were under siege when there was an attempted coup, an insurrection that will live in infamy. What we lived through was an assault on our republic, and on our democracy from within.

On that day, when my colleagues and I were trapped in this gallery, the terrorists who assaulted our police officers could be heard banging on these doors, breaking these windows, and they were here to prevent the certification of a free and fair election. I shudder to think what a Republican majority's inability to govern would have meant on that day, and what it could mean in the future for those of us who believe in defending our democracy abroad, and now more than ever, here at home. On this painful anniversary, thankfully, the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries made sure that we came together to mark the moment to honor our law enforcement, recognize the lives lost as a result of that day, honor the families and the survivors, and to ensure that we recommit to our republic and our democracy. That is the kind of speaker that our nation needs.

We are now four days into what should be the 118th Congress and the House of Representatives has no committees, no rules, no classified briefings, no members who have taken their oath to serve our country. There are no debates happening on this floor about addressing the challenges we face at home or around the globe. No votes on legislation to tackle the challenges facing the American people.

Madam Clerk, they told the American people they wanted to win the majority to fight inflation. The only thing they're fighting is each other. These four days have tested House Republicans' ability to govern and they have failed. With Hakeem Jeffries as our speaker, Congress can continue to deliver common sense, bipartisan solutions for the American people.

Instead, what we've seen unfold before our very eyes is exactly what's in store for the country over the next two years under Republican control. And this should be deeply concerning to the American people who expect us to do our jobs and fulfill even the most fundamental functions of this institution, like voting on the debt ceiling to fund expenditures we've already made. What if this happens then? What if we default on our debts because of the Republican majority's inability to govern? What impact will that have on our economy or on the global economy? And in less than nine months, in September, we have a vote to fund the government, to pay for our military, Social Security, Medicare, and other obligations. What happens on September 30 when government funding runs out and they're in charge?

With Hakeem Jeffries as our speaker, we can continue to advance an agenda that puts people over politics just as we did in the 117th Congress with a majority as slim as theirs. (Speaking in a foreign language). Madam Clerk, as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and in accordance with a vote of the House Democratic Caucus, I'm honored to present for election to the Office of Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress, the name of a man of integrity and intellect, who is bold and brilliant, and most importantly, a man who leads with love, the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, a representative from the state of New York.


JOHNSON: The reading Clerk will call the roll.


REP. ALMA ADAMS, (D-NC): Jeffries.

COLE: Jeffries. Aderholt. Aderholt. Aguilar.

AGUILAR: Hakeem Jeffries.

COLE: Jeffries. Alford.

REP. MARK ALFORD, (R-MO): Kevin McCarthy.

ALLI: McCarthy. Allen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): And it has begun with the announcement of Alma Adams of North Carolina voting for Hakeem Jeffries. The 13th ballot has started. The big question, of course, can Kevin McCarthy, who finally came in first, although not with enough votes to become speaker, can he pick up any more votes he needs? We're not sure whether it's three or four, I believe it's four more votes to become Speaker of the House from his 213 total right now. Can he get any of these seven holdouts to change?

Right now, there is obviously a huge effort going on, as Dana Bash says arm twisting. Also, I'm sure it's some encouragement in terms of reelection races and from committee posts and every possible tool at their disposal. I'm told Congressman Patrick McHenry of North Carolina who is a Kevin McCarthy deputy is doing yeoman's work out there trying to convince some of these reluctant individuals. There's Congressman Barr who is one of the big flippers.

And we'll see what happens. I am not hearing right now of any news from my sources about any potential flips, but I guess for the McCarthy camp, I hope springs are turning.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: It's happening. I mean, it's happening, you know, whatever you want to call it. You can even call it good old- fashioned bribery. Yes. And it's all happening on the floor right now. And I got a text from a lawmaker -- a Republican lawmaker in the McCarthy camp as this is starting saying finally, now we just grind it out.


KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I can't say this is going --

BASH: I think they want us to listen to her.

HUNT: Yes, hold on.



COLE: Biggs. Jordan


BASH: So, Biggs, that's a -- that's a critical one.

TAPPER: Yes. That was one of the seven that we're looking at.

HUNT: One of the seven that we are keeping an eye on, and one that they really feel like they need to flip if, in fact, they're going to get where they need to go.

BASH: I can't say this is all going according to plan. It was certainly at least a few days.


COLE: Jeffries. Bishop of North Carolina.

REP. DAN BISHOP, (R-NC): McCarthy.

COLE: McCarthy. Blumenauer.


TAPPER: The one that we're looking for now after Congresswoman Blunt Rochester is Lauren Boebert. Will she flip? Let's listen in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLE: Boebert.


COLE: Jordan.


TAPPER: Jim Jordan. So, right now, two of the seven rebels have stayed rebels.


COLE: Jeffries. Bost.


COLE: McCarthy. Bowman.


COLE: Jeffries.


TAPPER: We're going to listen in to see if Congressman-elect Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma is going to stick with his flip to McCarthy. Let's listen in.


COLE: Brecheen.


COLE: McCarthy.


TAPPER: McCarthy. So, he has.

BASH: So, the next one is going to be Crane, alphabetically who's a holdout.

TAPPER: Right. We have a little bit to go.

BASH: So, we have a little bit to go before him.

TAPPER: That's Cloud actually who will the next one to vote here.

BASH: No, Cloud already turned for McCarthy.

TAPPER: Well, we're --

BASH: We're double-checking.

TAPPER: We're double checking to see if they're sticking -- they're sticking with their flip. Yes.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the one thing that is true -- look, there are the seven holdouts, let's see if the blood oath that we heard some members talk about yesterday holds. But the fact that today, McCarthy won over 14 is extraordinary. And I don't think they expected 14. I kept hearing this will go on until Monday.

Bash: Yes.


TAPPER: It still might.

BASH: And I think this might -- this vote might be just buying us -- buying them some time to continue to work. They probably don't have the votes to recess. They just need to hold the status quo, maybe another vote may be more while they work behind the scenes to get a couple more holdouts. But this is what they had hoped would happen which is that they could divide and conquer (INAUDIBLE).


TAPPER: And they have. That -- they have succeeded in that.

BASH: Yes. I mean they have succeeded in them.

TAPPER: Yes. And then in the -- in the 21, including Congresswoman Victoria Spartz voting present. In the 21, they have picked off most of them. Their most 14 flips is big. That is a big achievement. It is not enough. He still needs four more. And we can see what's going to happen.

Eli Crane is the one that we're all keeping an eye on right now because cloud and Clyde that we're going to listen to in a second, they already flipped. But Eli Crane is still a holdout despite being a freshman, despite being somebody that Kevin McCarthy helped get elected.


COLE: Casar.

REP. GREG CASAR, (D-TX): Hakeem Jeffries.

COLE: Jeffries. Case.

REP. ED CASE, (D-HI): Jeffries.

COLE: Jeffries. Casten.

REP. SEAN CASTEN, (D-IL): Jeffries.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, I'll say the former president wasn't making tools with those 20 hardliners I'm told. Let's not get ourselves. That's not the reason that they're voting but I think it's that deal-making that happen overnight. Maybe they are offered something and you know a last-minute push by the former president. He's incredibly popular with a lot of their bases. He could be part of that. And I am told this morning Trump was making calls to these lawmakers.

BASH: And those some interesting comments from McCarthy this morning when he was talking to reporters who asked about whether Steve Scalise could get to 218 and he said I'm not so sure.


BASH: And I wonder how many -- how much conversation has been happening behind the scenes about what that number for McCarthy alternative would really look like and whether that would actually even be a way out of this.

TAPPER: Let's listen in. We want to see if Michael Cloud and Andrew Clyde are going to stick with McCarthy from their flips.


COLE: Cline. Cloud.


COLE: McCarthy.


TAPPER: Cloud, McCarthy. He stuck with the flip.


COLE: Clyburn.


COLE: Jeffries. Clyde.


COLE: McCarthy.


TAPPER: Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia sticking with his flip to McCarthy. So, right now I think all eyes -- I think it's fair to say all eyes are on Congressman-elect Crane of Arizona who will be going to come to in a -- in a minute or so because he seems the most likely to flip off the seven rebels, being the most vulnerable, being somebody that actually owes Kevin McCarthy. PHILLIP: And he needs something. He's new here, so he can either be in the fold or out of the fold. I think that for someone like him, threats might be actually quite effective for someone who needs to prove that he's doing something in Washington, given that he just got here.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I think that's a great -- that's a great framing in the sense that for some of these members --

TAPPER: Hold on. I'm sorry to interrupt.

KING: NO, I like it.

TAPPER: Let's listen -- let's listen on Congressman-elect Crane.


COLE: Crane.


COLE: Jordan.


KING: And there's the choice, right?


KING: So, these -- the new members who ran as sort of Trump acolytes, who ran as rebels, who ran as different than they come into the club and they've been here for a few days now and everyone's trying to tell them you know, listen, that's not the way to succeed here. You got to -- you know you to join the Club. You got to make the trades.

And some of -- Congressman-elect Crane there clearly saying at least not yet. No, not yet. That's the choice for the new members. Do I join the Boeberts and the Gaetzs, or do I realize I want committee assignments, I want to courthouse back home, I want to go to some ribbon cuttings, I better make friends and he has decided for now to stay in the outcasts?

BASH: These are different flavors of Republicans to say --

KING: Yes, that's a good way to put it.

BASH: To say the least. The next people we're going to be listening for are Bob Good, I don't -- does anybody here think that he's going to change his vote?


HUNT: And then Andy Harris.

BASH: The -- I think one Republican, maybe there are two Republicans now from the state of Maryland. And the question is whether or not he is -- he is going to flip. I would look at him maybe more than any of the others left on the -- on the holdout list. And the other thing I just think we need to -- and we're not -- we don't know exactly right now. You're going to have to keep focusing on what else did McCarthy promise.

KING: Oh, that's the huge -- that is the huge deal.

BASH: What did he give?

KING: Yes.

BASH: Melanie Zanona, our colleague on the Hill is reporting about a promise to cap defense spending.

TAPPER: Cap it or cut it? I thought it was cut 75 billion.


TAPPER: Let's hold on and listen to see if Congressman Byron Donalds, a former rebel is sticking with his McCarthy's backing.


COLE: Donalds.


COLE: Donalds. Duarte.



TAPPER: Yes. So, Congressman Donalds is apparently not there.

BASH: Not currently in the room.

KING: He's been involved in the negotiations, so you've seen that some -- you know some of them are in the meetings they when they realize their name was called then come in and they cast their vote. A couple of different ways to look at this. One is, Jake, you made the point earlier that Chip Roy delivered his group.


KING: He said he had them and that they wanted substantive policy rules changes.


KING: So, one way to look at that is Ken McCarthy's made huge progress today. Another way to look at that is he -- why did he -- you know if he knew the -- if he did the math if he had a good sense of the math, why weren't those deals negotiated between Election Day and you know the new Congress convening? There's certainly been miscalculations by the McCarthy camp as to this -- you know, 10, 12 humiliations. However, however, with significant progress today, you hope all that from the rearview mirror if you're in the Kevin McCarthy camp. The question is if you have the good Boebert, Gaetz, Crane, and a couple of other nevers, is there any way? How do you do the chest then? There's never mean you will always vote for somebody by name or can you convince them OK, we get it, vote present, you know lower the numbers, play the chess. That will be the next negotiation. If they refused to come over like the other holdout, is there any way to negotiate for them to go out of town --

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Go vote present --

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Or do something that might sound ridiculous, but it would -- it might be the only way to get Kevin McCarthy to the number. He has made significant progress today but he has not made enough. He is still not a speaker.

HUNT: Well, and this is part of why the next couple of hours are so incredibly critical for Kevin McCarthy here because if for whatever reason he cannot make any more movement here, we are going to start to learn more about those concessions that Dana was talking about. What is it exactly that has been given away? And that risks angering all of these people that have stood with him so far through all of this.

Right now, it seems like the ball is rolling. If they can keep it rolling, there's still a chance. And again, we're waiting to hear for Harris to be -- to be called here, in the Hs. We're currently in the Fs. He would be kind of the last one I would expect to potentially change on this vote. I mean, the others seem to be absolutely never, Gaetz obviously, at the top of that list. But if there's no movement on this vote, and these are -- these holdouts still are refusing --

TAPPER: Hold on one second, let me just interrupt. We need -- here's Matt Gaetz.


COLE: Gaetz.


COLE: Jordan.


TAPPER: Voted for Jim Jordan. Sorry, keep on.

HUNT: No, no, it's -- I mean, that's exactly to the point that we were just making here. I mean, I just think that the next couple of hours are so incredibly critical. And if they let this Congress walk away from Washington over the weekend, as there's going to be increasing pressure to do, I think all bets may be off in terms of what we've seen, kind of unfold today.

PHILLIP: What also strikes me about what we do know -- what little we do frankly about some of the concessions is some of these are not things to keep for Kevin McCarthy to give away. He cannot unilaterally decide what defense spending levels are. He also cannot unilaterally decide --

HUNT: Such a good point.

PHILLIP: Whether there's going to be a clean debt limit increase. So, he's kind of giving away maybe the case that he's going to fight for these things on their behalf but he cannot really promise some of those things, which might be a great loophole if you're Kevin McCarthy, or it might be a straitjacket.

TAPPER: Well, he can say I'll support it -- I'll support it.

PHILLIP: Yes. But --

TAPPER: But that's not to say that the Senate --

PHILLIP: That's not to say that it's going to happen.

TAPPER: The Senate won't put that money back --

PHILLIP: And there are all kinds of things that he can say he supports that may not ever.

TAPPER: Let's hold on and listen for Bob Good, a never-Kevin from Virginia who comes after Vicente.


COLE: Good of Virginia.

REP. BOB GOOD, (R-VA): Jim Jordan.

COLE: Jordan.



TAPPER: Jordan. So, that's it. Already, McCarthy has lost five votes and I believe he's only able to lose four to become a speaker of the House. So, it looks like he will lose on the 13th ballot as well, although he has made some progress. And it looks as though all the people who flipped in the 12th ballot are staying with him in the 13th ballot. Still, no indication that he has picked up any of these seven rebels and he needs at least three or four of them to become a speaker. I believe it's four, although the math depends on how many people are actually on the floor of the House, and then he won one ballot.


COLE: Green of Texas.

REP. AL GREEN, (D-TX): I cast my vote on behalf of the thousands of black people who are (INAUDIBLE) in our country.


HUNT: So, next is Harris.

TAPPER: Yes. Harris, who was -- who flipped last time, we expect him to stick with McCarthy. While we're in this chasm of predictable votes, let us throw us to our friend Anderson Cooper back in New York.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake Tapper, thanks very much. As they continue to watch the counting of the votes, it doesn't seem like -- I mean, obviously, he's already got enough against him on this vote. So, what happens, David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, look, they've got -- this is where -- this is the point we always thought we might reach which is that there were those who are gettable and there were those who may not be. And you know, you heard Gaetz earlier -- Representative Gaetz, we don't know -- you know how much credence to put in this saying he'll not have the vote today, tomorrow, next week. And The question is will they hang together?

COOPER: What is happening?




KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that seems to be -- that's going to have to be the strategy for the rest of the day, just try to pick one by one by one by one.


AXELROD: There may be some subcommittee chairs and committee chairs born in the next 48 hours.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One guy I'm watching is Rosendale with Montana. I just think you can't -- you can't downplay the significance of the Senate primary politics going on. Montana will be one of the biggest pickup opportunities for the Republicans in 24. Zinke and Rosendale from Montana, the two reps are circling each other on that race.

If I were Ryan's Zinke, and I wanted to be a mischief-maker, I get on the phone with Montana media right now and say every time Rosendale casts a vote to prolong this, he's essentially voting with the Democrats to protect Joe Biden from our subpoenas and our investigations, of all the issues going on out there that are motivating for the Republican base. The notion of somehow delaying or not investigating Joe Biden would be the most agitating. So, you want to get like hyper-local and how to twist the knife here in Montana, that's a way.

AXELROD: Yes. Well, that's the drum Marjorie Taylor (INAUDIBLE). The leader of the -- the leader McCarthy forces.

FINNEY: I don't want to get it or argue that is exactly what the American people voted against. I mean, again, we have -- we're going micro to macro. You're right. That's a smart Senate strategy if you're running in Montana. But again, I think this is a misreading of the results of the election by, no surprise, by Marjorie Taylor Greene and others. And the question becomes, you know, as we've been talking about this, in terms of negotiation it's not just how do we get to yes, but the question is for the seven, what is a win look like?

JENNINGS: Can I ask you a question? Do you really think the American people want no oversight of the administration? Because while I hear you on is it the only thing you do, I do think voters expect Congress, a coequal branch of government can do something which the Democrats have done nothing for two years. Don't you think there's some of it is real?

FINNEY: Actually, I would -- I would challenge you on that and say that the January 6 committee has actually completely re-established what it is to do oversight by holding a series of hearings where we actually learn fundamentally new, expository information that changed our understanding of what happened.

JENNINGS: Address?

FINNEY: I do not think that we're going to hear that in any hearings regarding Hunter Biden's laptop, nor do I think it's going to be when we're looking at whether or not the FBI is looking too much in the white supremacy.

JENNINGS: Karen, I think Americans want to have an exposition and a full-throttle explanation of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that's something that America deserves to have. So, I think that there's -- you know you can't -- you can't throw the baby with the bathwater.


AXELROD: Look, I agree. I think oversight is legitimate and important if it's -- if it's entered into in good faith. If it's become sort of a search and destroy mission, then I think people -- and this is what people fear. And --

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: When we had a House of Representatives that was Republican that conducted an oversight in the last administration, the Benghazi oversight, right, run by Trey Gowdy, a totally responsible lawyer who had respect from both the extreme wing of the Republican faction then, and the moderates. We saw where that led. You've got an entirely different makeup of the Republican House of Representatives coming into this Congress, and you're going to get a very different caliber and quality of exposition. And, frankly, oversight, which is going to be, you know, on steroids in terms of its performative value, in terms of its -- of its seriousness, or lack thereof. So, you're just going to see a very different kind of "governing." And that is, frankly going to play into you all hands in a very positive way.


AXELROD: The thing about McCarthy is he is very good at some elements of this job, which is why, you know, he is where he is right now at least in a position where he might become speaker of the House. He raises money, he takes care of the needs --the political needs of his people. The question is that -- and Nancy Pelosi was very good at that as well. But there's also a leadership dimension, the ability to kind of tamp down things when they get out of hand, to put together the votes when you need to put them together, and so on.