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Now, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Appears To Suffer Defeat On Tenth Speaker Ballot; Source Says, Negotiators Pushing For Deal Tonight To Show Progress; House About To Vote For Speaker For 11th Speaker Vote; Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On 11th Speaker Ballot. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. House of Representatives still without a speaker after ten votes. Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. This is a special edition of The Situation Room.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, Wolf, and to everyone, I'm Erin Burnett, tempers and frustration, well, mounting, if you can say that, possibly at a peak. The race for speaker dragging on now for a third day, the last time the race for speaker, Wolf, of course has gone on this long was more than 160 years ago. And here we are tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's amazing what's going on. What's taking place right here on the nation's Capitol is truly stunning, 21 Republicans declining to vote for Kevin McCarthy today, leaving the California Congressman without the votes needed to finally grab the speaker's gavel.

The humiliating losses come despite McCarthy privately offering up even more concessions. And we're now learning negotiators between the two camps are pushing to strike some sort of deal tonight in an attempt to show progress. But what will that progress look like? And will it be enough to give McCarthy the support he needs?

Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, where do things stand right now at this moment?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is actually a key moment, Wolf, because they are finishing up the tenth vote in which Kevin McCarthy will have lost once again the effort to try to become the next speaker of the House. Remember, this has been 100 years since we have gone to multiple ballots. Now, it's going to be since the mid 1800s we have had this many ballots to elect a speaker, Kevin McCarthy going to lose his tenth ballot.

By why is this a key moment? Because there have been negotiations that have been happening behind the scenes between pro-McCarthy forces, as well as the McCarthy opponents, even happening all day long, furious talks. I am told they are making good progress. There's an expectation, a hope that there could be a deal tonight between these two camps.

If they're close to a deal, they feel they are close to a deal, then we could see the House move to adjourn right now after this vote is officially called. If they move to adjourn, that is a positive sign for those negotiations. That means that enough conservatives agree to vote to adjourn. Remember to adjourn the House, you need 218 votes a majority of the House. Democrats are not planning to vote to adjourn. They want to continue this process. They want McCarthy to twist in the wind.

Republicans are divided about the adjourning. They same conservative who are pushing or denying McCarthy to speakership have yet to give McCarthy those votes to adjourn. So, if they do vote to adjourn right now, that would suggest that they believe a deal is within reach.

Now, this deal would essentially amount to a number of concessions that McCarthy has offered to empower some of those members on the far- right. One of the big chief demands is to give them more power over the speakership, allow for one individual member to call for a vote to oust a sitting speaker. That used to be a red line for McCarthy. Not anymore, he has given in on that.

He has also agreed to give two -- at least some members of the far- right freedom caucus seats on the very powerful House Rules Committee. That is the committee that sets the parameters for floor debate, determines what legislation can come to the floor, that those concessions among other issues appear to be enough to win over some Republicans, assuming they sign off on all the details that they've been haggling about all day long.

But, Wolf, that is still not enough to get Kevin McCarthy the 218 votes he needs. It could close the gap, but Republican sources tell me tonight, Wolf, that still McCarthy will have to go member by member. There's some incoming freshmen, some other members who still have concerns. He has to alleviate those concerns, get them on board and then eventually he could get to 218 votes.

So, Wolf, this could stretch into next week. There are at least four members of the Republican conference who have to leave town for medical issues and family issues tomorrow, which means that they probably are not going to have 218 votes tomorrow. So, we could see these drag into next week and who know if it goes longer than that.

So, a key moment right now for Kevin McCarthy as he's pushing to lock down the votes, which he does not have just yet, but he believes once there's a deal, then things will start to fall into place. Wolf?

BLITZER: We shall see. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill watching all of this unfold.


Let's get some analysis right now from our political experts, and we have great political experts with us right now. Dana Bash, you covered Congress for a long time. What do you make of what's unfolding right now? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, where do we start? It's just -- I feel like I've lost -- I've come up with so many ways to describe it and I've lost the ability. There really isn't, because it's inevitable.

What is happen right now on the floor, yes, you have the some of the 20 getting up over and over again and saying, this is democracy, this is what it's supposed to be. No, it's not. People elect their representatives because they think that there is some modicum of hope that they are grown ups, who could get in a room, as hallowed as the House, and figure things out.

And this isn't even the hard stuff. This isn't even like raising the debt ceiling or, I don't know, immigration reform. This is just electing the guy who's going to run the place. It's really -- at this point, the level of disgust is absolutely palpable.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And I've heard McCarthy and some of his allies say, oh, were going to get the hard stuff. This is going to be the hard moment now. We're going to get this out of way. And then all that other stuff, it's like, not a chance. I mean, this is just a preview of what is going to happen when the hard stuff actually presents itself.

I mean, it seems to me today was a day of -- a study in contrasts of public and private, right? So, in public, there's been zero progress for Kevin McCarthy. In private, he and his allies claim there is progress. Manu, just described what a critical moment this is at right now, to see a potentially deal on paper and for people to see if there's actually something for them to actually move for. But whatever momentum exists today is only what we're about is happening behind the door, there's been zero momentum for Kevin McCarthy on the floor.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Could I add to the word disgust, dysfunction at the highest degree? And to your point about there's now supposedly a deal in the works, there was supposed to be a deal earlier today. And Chip Roy said he had ten votes and we're still at 20 plus 1. The concessions that Kevin McCarthy has made, at least publicly, have not made a difference thus far.

Let's assume for a moment there is now some real progress being made behind the scenes. Again, the question is, will that extend to the never-Kevins, that people who are not interested in rules changes or committee assignments. They don't like Kevin McCarthy. It's personal.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you mentioned, Wolf, how shocking it is, it is shocking but it shouldn't be surprising. Remember back after the 2010 election, the 2014 election, a lot of people in this town were somehow shock or surprised that the tea party people said they were going to vote -- they were voting against -- they're voting to no on everything. Well, campaigned and say they were going to vote no on everything. So, we should not have been surprise then.

These, especially the never-Kevins, have said they're anti- establishment, anti-system, they have made pretty clear, if you listen to the mega media universe that they speak in, if you listen to Matt Gaetz on his own podcast, that they're going to vote no, even against their own leadership. That's what they say they're going to do.

So, Jamie makes the key point. Kevin McCarthy can cut the deal with some of them. There's a chess game they can play. He has to get to 213 because the Democrats have 212. So, he has to get to 213 and then can he negotiate with the never-Kevin's to vote present or go on vacation, or go out of town. So, this is incredibly complicated.

They keep saying they're making progress. They keep saying they're cutting a deal, but the speaker of the House is the guy who runs the place. Leadership team are the people who are supposed to count the votes. They have been wrong. They have been wrong everyday so far. If they finally gotten it right? We'll see. But they've been wrong every time.

BLITZER: John, Kevin McCarthy is a very conservative lawmaker. So, these other conservatives who are totally against him, why do they hate him so much?

KING: I'm not even sure we could use conservative, moderate, left- right anymore on this town. Kevin McCarthy came to Washington as a California Bakersfield, chamber of commerce, farm economy conservative, less regulation, less spending, lower taxes, (INAUDIBLE).

But in the age of Trump -- this started before Trump, but it's been put on steroids under Trump of this just no, no, no, no rabble-rouse, break the glass, no. Who is Kevin McCarthy today? He has given away so much. He is the guy who helped rehabilitate Donald Trump by going down, you know, to Mar-a-Lago, and yet these never-Kevins who are closer to Trump view him as the establishment.

So, he has no identity anymore. That is his problem. He has no identity. He's viewed as some who is willing to give away the store, and he has given away the store. He has given in them in the last 24 hours, things that 48 hours ago he said he would never give them.


And so --

BASH: Still hasn't gotten them.

KING: Right. And so if you are -- this is a hostage crisis, and he's negotiating with people, he keeps giving to them, and they keep looking at it and say, good, let's get more. And there's still no evidence even if he keeps saying yes and they keep asking for more. They won't take yes. They won't take yes as an answer.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: And to David's, point this is supposed the easiest vote that they are taking. And the idea of what it looks like when it comes to the debt ceiling, when it comes to funding the new government, when it comes to all these other issues that come before the House of Representatives, that is going to be the problem. So, Ryan Zinke, the congressman-elect, as he still is because he hasn't been sworn-in yet, was saying earlier today, this is supposed to be the easy when it comes to this vote.

And I think what kind of perfectly encapsulate to all of this, if people have been watching this minute-by-minute, like we have is, when, John James, the freshman from Michigan, went and was nominating McCarthy earlier, he cheered that fact that they had a big Republican victory yesterday, that they had the votes to adjourn. And that is about to be the next breakthrough they're making now. You could see the kind of bewilderment on people's faces, that that is now being touted as a victory, that they can adjourn and then go back behind closed doors.

BLITZER: McCarthy would like to adjourn right now, but he doesn't have the votes.

COLLINS: Yes. He's about to suffer his tenth defeat. I mean, I was telling John last time we saw someone go, oh, in ten, it was Alabama in 1955, and it wasn't a great year.

But in all seriousness, I mean the question is, is what we're hearing from these members emerging from the closed-door meetings, are they actually making progress or is Kevin McCarthy going to get to the point where people feel like, all right, these are people are never going to vote for him, who is next?

BASH: As you're speaking, I get a text from as former Republican House member. The speaker vote is supposed to be the easiest vote of the session, not the hardest. You say it there, it comes out there.

CHALIAN: The question also, if these concessions are agreed to, if Kevin McCarthy finds a way to get the speaker's gavel, what is the governing of this House of Representatives going to look like? How is the functioning of the House going to look like? Because, when the debt ceiling comes up, Kaitlan, or when other votes come up, first, they may have to vacate the chair and go through a speaker's vote first, I mean, because of the way the rules will be agreed to.

So, is this going to -- I mean, many people might say the House of Representatives wasn't so functional before this, but this to me begs the real question. If indeed all these rules go into place, what is the actual reality of how the House is going to conduct its business as representative democracy?

BLITZER: By the way, we're about to hear the gavel. The session is resuming right now. We'll get the results, but go ahead.

GANGEL: There could also be a tipping point where he gives away too much to the chaos caucus group. I've spoken to Republican members, and one said to me, I think normal members will reach a point where they aren't willing to live with the concessions Kevin is making to this group. And that's a problem for him, too. Apart from dysfunction, he could start losing votes if he goes too far.

BLITZER: And let's not forget, John, as long as there's no speaker, the House of Representatives is totally irrelevant. They can't do anything. KING: Right. They are all congressmen or congresswomen-elect until they are sworn-in. And so, again, they keep trying -- Kaitlan mentioned sending out to Congressman-elect James. Kevin McCarthy keeps sending out stars, people who have credibility with the holdouts to try to make the case enough. You've made your point, enough.

Today, the Republicans who would be the leaders of the intelligence, the armed services committee were saying, hey, wait a minute, we need sensitive briefings. We need to have to get oversight the government. And we can't get that until we take the oath.

CHERYL JOHNSON, CLERK, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 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 received 212.

The honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California has received 200.

The honorable Byron Donald of the state of Florida has received 13. The honorable Kevin Hern of the state of Oklahoma has seven.


With one answering present.

No member-elect having received a majority of the votes cast, a speaker has not been elected. For what purpose does the gentleman from Arkansas rise?

REP. FRENCH HILL (R-AR): Madam Clerk, I rise tonight in the spirit of 1923 to address the House, Madam Clerk, to nominate Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

HILL: First, let me express my deep appreciation, the appreciation of everybody in this room for the work you are doing, Madam Clerk.

Our clerk has stepped up and reflects our House's best tradition of preparation and dedication to it institution, and we are grateful. From the first speaker of the House, the honorable Frederick Muhlenberg, to the one that will be elected next, Kevin McCarthy, the role of speaker of the House is one of the most beloved in the American history.

The speaker's mission is to carry out the principled goals and objectives of his or her party while at the same time protecting this institution and the traditions of the people's House, all the while remaining faithful to that imperative in our preamble of the Constitution to promote the general welfare.

It's a difficult job. It takes a special personality with deep affection for the House, robust courage, a sense of humor and great amounts of humility and patience. I've watched Kevin McCarthy for longer than my eight years serving in this chamber. And I can say, without hesitation that Kevin has brought these foundational traits of leadership to bear for good of this institution and for the good of the American people.

It's said that a nation not in control of her finances cannot control her destiny, and I agree. And from our many conversations over many years, I have no doubt that our next speaker, Kevin McCarthy, agrees. And the Republican commitment to America, Leader McCarthy charged our Republican conference with taking on his two biggest concerns facing this world and this nation, China and our domestic national debt and deficit.

Over the past two years, we have lost our way on spending, printing too much money at our Central Bank and spending here in Congress like drunken sailors. This bad policy-palooza has gone into overdrive in the past two years with some $5 trillion of new spending demanded by President Biden and now delivered by the House minority, who's own budget chair famously said their effectively no limit to what America can print, borrow and spend.

Of course, this is madness, and it's not anchored in any economic tenet. And there's not a single one of us here that isn't demanding a return to fiscal discipline. And who can deliver fiscal discipline? Kevin McCarthy.

On the point of spending, let me show you a list of everyone who has written me in the 2nd congressional district who has asked me to cut spending. I'm holding up a blank piece of paper. No one has asked me to cut spending in writing. And there are not many people who get a lot of mail in this House to cut spending and to set spending priorities. In contrast, we get hundreds of letters asking us to increase spending.

But we're at a critical point in this nation's fiscal health and there's one person to help us see through it, Kevin McCarthy. How do I know? Because he set it himself and he's identified to how to do it. In 2018, then-Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy brought a balanced-budget amendment to the floor of this House.


Mr. McCarthy said, by our actions, we have shown Washington's spending problem can't be boiled down to a lack of will. It's a problem of structure and process, and everyone knows the process of government funding in Washington is broken.

He went on to say, when you change structure, you change behavior. And that no matter what, we know that the structure set up by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has only worked to its successfully completion four times in 44 years. We have nothing to lose by making big changes. That's your next speaker on the floor of this House in 2018.

Kevin McCarthy is committed to making big changes. We've heard it in our conference meetings. We've heard it in our rules debate. We know this becomes to reforming the budget process, fighting to bringing all 12 appropriations bill to the floor into regular order and on time and crafting changes to structurally rein in spending in this House.

These changes will bring sanity back to our fiscal process. I'm committed to bringing sanity back to the fiscal process and I hope every member on this floor will be and follow Mr. McCarthy's lead.

Much has been said by our friends on the other side of the aisle, my good friends, the so-called popcorn caucus this week, if you will. Over the past few days, about 1923, and they were having a robust discussion here among House Republicans as to who will be the next speaker of the House.

Back in 1923, the insurgency among Republicans then was from the center-left of the Republican Party. Today it's from the center-right. But there's more to the story in that fight 100 years ago. And I want to remind you of that history.

When Fred Gillett was elected speaker on the ninth ballot in 1923, the outcome was a more robust, more unified Republican conference, one that would go to work with President Calvin Coolidge, cut government spending, balance the budget, cut taxes while paying down the debt. House Republicans 100 years ago unleashed a pro-growth agenda.

House Republicans under Speaker Kevin McCarthy will unleash a pro- growth agenda to get this economy moving. That pro-growth agenda benefited families in the 20s. The McCarthy pro-growth agenda will benefit families across this country today. A century later, under the next speaker, Kevin McCarthy, mark my words, this party will come together to unleash American energy, make the Trump tax cuts permanent, rein in runaway government spending and fight for a balanced budget.

So, I stand before you today with unqualified support to nominate my friend, the next speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy.

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

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the House.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

NEGUSE: Madam Clerk, we've heard a lot today, yesterday, the day before, about the potential history that may be made in this chamber, but it is worth repeating to the American people watching, the history that has already been made by the elevation of the dedicated, talented, passionate and committed public servant and leader from the state of New York, the first African-American, the first person of color to lead any political party in the House of Representative in the history of our country, and that is Hakeem Jeffries.

Madam Clerk, it is with great pride that I rise to nominate the gentleman from New York, the man who has been the lead vote-getter ten times and counting to be the speaker of the House.


Madam Clerk, the last several days have been difficult for the country and for the American people, as they have watched what has unfolded in this chamber, as they have seen the dysfunction laid bare on the other side of the aisle. And I suspect that some Americans watching will recall the dysfunction of years past.

My colleague on the other side of the aisle talked about history, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and the like. I'd like to take folks through more recent history. Because I can tell you, that as a member from the great state of Colorado, this is not their first rodeo, as far as dysfunction is concerned.

Four years ago, today, I was sworn in with my colleagues from the class of 2018 during what became the most difficult and the longest government shutdown in the history of our country. Why? Because of the dysfunction and the chaos on the other side of the aisle.

The country then did what it has so often done. It looked to House Democrats to govern and to lead, and under the leadership of one of the greatest speaker in the country's history, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, that is exactly what we did.

If we want to talk about history, let's talk about recent history. Two years ago, tomorrow, I stood here with so many of you in this chamber as our democracy was attacked, as our colleagues on the other side of the aisle tried to overturn an election. And the country yet again did what it has done before. It looked to House Democrats to lead and to govern. And that is exactly what we did when we certified the election and we safeguarded the transfer of power.

So -- and so here we find ourselves again in unprecedented times, in the early days of the 118th Congress, first time -- first time -- in over 100 years in which the House of Representatives is unable to organize because the House Republican conference cannot select a speaker. It's a sad day for this institution, but the country will do what it has done before it will look to House Democrats to govern and to lead. And under the leadership of Hakeem Jeffries, that is exactly what we will do.

Now, you have heard from so many over the course of the last three days about the wisdom, the leadership and the talents of this extraordinary leader from Brooklyn. But let me tell you why I believe that he is the person for this moment.

Centuries ago, our nation's second president, John Adams, laid bare his fear that members of this body would gain influence by, quote, meanness, not greatness, by noise and not sense, by ignorance and not learning. Hakeem Jeffries' leadership is rooted in greatness and not meanness. It is rooted in learning and not ignorance. His approach is rooted in common sense and not the empty and jaded cynicism and noise that we see so often in our political sphere. He is a leader for our times, which is why I believe he is leader for this time.

The bottom line, my colleagues, is this. It is 6:30 P.M. here in Washington, D.C. [18:30:01]

The House of Representatives, this sacred institution needs a leader. It needs a speaker. It needs a leader who will inspire us, a leader who knows that our best days are yet ahead, a leader committed to our communities, and our constitution, and our country. And I am here to tell you that leader is Hakeem Jeffries of the great state of New York.

BLITZER: Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado nominating Hakeem Jeffries to be the speaker of the House.

Manu Raju is watching all of this unfold. Manu, for those viewers who are just tuning in right now, tell everyone what is going on.

RAJU: Yes. This is actually not a very good sign for Kevin McCarthy, of course, who has suffered ten losses now, the most amount of losses for any speaker candidate since the mid-1800s. But the reason why this is not good news is that they had hoped, the Republicans had, that they could adjourn, the vote to adjourn the House. But they don't have the votes to adjourn the House. There are not enough support to do that because a number of Republicans simply will not go there. They say they will not adjourn the House until they are comfortable with an emerging agreement between McCarthy foes and McCarthy allies to give them more power over the speakership.

You see Matt Gaetz is on floor right now.

BLITZER: All right hold on. Yes.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): When Donald Trump was president, taxes were cut, regulation were slash, energy was abundant, wages were rising, capital was returning from overseas to fund the dreams and ambitions of our fellow Americans and the economy was roaring. What a contrast to what we have seen from this administration now.

And so I rise to nominate Donald Trump for the position of speaker of the House. And for all of the vitriol that we hear from the media, in the Times and the left, there were great moments of bipartisanship under the Trump presidency. And the Democrat nominee for speaker knows that well because he led valiantly on the efforts for criminal justice reform and I was honored to join him. And I know no matter who's sitting in that speaker chair, we've got a lot of work to do on that very issue. We took a first step, but there's a second and a third steps to take and I'm glad that we were able to work with President Trump, with Republicans and with Democrats to provide real outcomes for Americans to create greater prosperity and more opportunity.

I also care deeply about President Trump's focus on our nation's veterans. It seems for far too long on the campaign trail, veterans were disregarded, forgotten about. When we would get elected to office, their issues would not always rise and get center stage, but we were able to pass veterans accountability measures. We were able to actually get people fired at the V.A. who weren't doing their job. What a great idea that would be to extend and continue and to continue to nourish. President Trump oriented our views on trade so that we could actually put the American people first, not foreign interests abroad or special interest here at home. President Trump knew that we had to confront China, that China had already engaged in a trade war against us but it was a war that we were surrendering, and so we started to fight back. He stood with our farmers.

And on foreign policy, we stopped trying to find a new Jeffersonian democracy to build out of sand and blood and Arab militias in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, President Trump, I believe, is the first president in my lifetime that didn't start new wars. This is an issue that I know unites some elements of the right and left for the benefit of our communities.

JOHNSON: Will the House be in order?

GAETZ: This government for far too long has been deeply corrupt. This town has been deeply corrupt. The way people get leadership positions and chairmanships and opportunities to be able to morally preen has been be accepting lobbyists and special interest money and redistributing that money as currency for favors. And that is not a criticism of either political party, it is a criticism of what we have allowed to happen in this place. And if we just go next man up on our side of the aisle, we will redefine (ph) that corrupt system and we will abandon the people who are expecting us to fight for them.

I have heard from my colleagues about all the important work we have to do and it is my sincere fear that if we were to allow Mr. McCarthy to assume the speakership, that would not get done, that it would be business as usual and the very same things that have paralyzed progress for both parties would continue to shackle us to never-ending failure. We can be better than that. We can raise or our gaze indeed.

We also have to restore to the speaker's office an actual person that ought to be in the speaker's office, not the squatter who is currently there.


And if the architect to the Capitol is listening, I sent a letter, now I would like to knows what the basis is to allow somebody to occupy the speaker's office who comes in second place ten straight times? Is there like some basis in law or rule or precedent for that?

And so I nominate President Trump because we must make our country great again and he can start by making the House of Representatives great again.

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

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Madam Chair, I rise for the purpose of placing a name in nomination.

JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

GOOD: Thank you, Madam Chair. What a privilege we all are enjoying tonight. We are all enjoying as elected members of this great body, the people's House, as it has been said. And what a great representation of the constitutional republic in which we enjoy living, the greatest country in the history of the world, as we play out, as the people's representative in selecting the all-important position of the speaker of the people's House.

I was out at the southeast balcony here just a few moments ago looking at the Supreme Court, looking at the flag flying above this Capitol building, looking at the Jefferson and Madison, both Virginians, by the way, libraries of Congress, and pausing to do what probably most of us recognize we fail to ought to do, to take it in, this high privilege, this distinct honor that we have to be the people's representatives from our respective districts in this House here in this Congress.

This is the greatest nation in the history of the world. With all of our imperfections and all of our imperfections, as people and as a nation, no nation in the history of the world has freed more people, has rescued more people, has ministered to more people, has evangelized more people than the United States of America.

And now would be e a good time to respond with some applause.

There's a reason why people from all over the world are trying to get into this country, many of them illegally due to the policies of the current administration. But people from all over the world are literally taking on a treacherous journey, risking life and limbs, subjecting themselves to abuse to try to sneak their way into our country, because they know this is the greatest country in the history of the world.

No country in the history of the world has provided more upward mobility, more advancement opportunity to people of all races, all nationalities, all ethnicities like the United States of America. But however we as a nation, we're teetering on the brink, aren't we? Isn't there just a window of opportunity to save the republic? Crisis after crisis, $32 trillion in national debt, equates to $90,000 per citizen, almost $100,000, now per citizen, some $300,000 per household.

When I said on this very floor, a few months ago in a budget debate, that then-chairman of the budget committee said, stop saying that. We're not asking anybody to pay it back, as if it's not real. This was not monopoly. As I heard someone says, don't tell the other side what happens at the trillion. What comes after trillion? And we just spent $1.7 trillion both parties, Republicans joining in the Senate, a few in the House to passed $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Sadly and unfortunately, part of the reason why I stand here today, the kind of bill that has been a supported by our former minority leader, every time it's come up on the House, no matter who is in control in the 12 years that he has been in leadership, contributing to the $32 trillion in national debt.

Yes, the other side is better at raising the debt than we are, but we have been participants. We're in crisis. We're in crisis with 5 million illegals having invaded the border in the last two years. When is it too much? We're in crisis with the state of our education system, K through 12, college campuses, indoctrination of our kids. We're in crisis with the weakening of our military with these NDAA bills.

We're in crisis with trembling on our most basic and essential freedoms over the last two years in ways we couldn't imagine, pre- 2020. Whether we can assemble, whether we can worship, whether we can earn a living, whether we can travel, what we have to put on our face, whether or not, we will have to take into our body. Whether or not we have to disclose what we've taken in, trampled in ways we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago.


The greatest reflection of where the people in the country are is the House of Representatives. And the people spoke back on November 8th and gave the majority by some 3 or 4 million votes to the Republican Party.

It's not the White House, it's not the Senate, it's the people's House that reflects where the American are, and they trusted us on this side of the aisle with the leadership of this House. And we have a window of opportunity to validate that trust, to do whatever we can to save the republic, to earn them giving us the Senate and the White House and this House back in 2024.

We have got to have a leader who not only has true conservative convictions that reflect the majority of Republicans who sent us here but, yes, a courageous leader. It doesn't matter what you believe, by the way, unless you're willing to take risk to yourself personally to fight for it. We need a leader who has proven to do that very thing. We have an opportunity to make history. We will live with this decision on this side of the aisle for the next two years.

We will answer for how we voted. And I know how people in your respective districts, like mine, Madam Chair, all the respective districts, how they're telling you to vote. They've been telling me how to vote for three years, to vote for transformational change in our leadership of this Republican Party. They have told me not to vote for the status quo, not to vote the next in line the establishment creature of the swamp cartel, but to vote for transformational change. And they're watching us. They're wondering if we'll hang in there, or will we cave, or will we give in, or will we let them down one more time. And I say we're not going to do that. They're looking to us.

You look and see what a great job a recent businessman did in the White House, did things no one else has ever done in the White House, did things that no one else has ever done to try to change country, showed courage and common sense and judgment that we have not seen before. We need a businessman as the speaker of the House. We need a businessman like Kevin Hern as speaker of the House.

We need a businessman like Kevin Hern, who has led the Republican study committee's budget task force that I have served on for two years and put forward the only balanced budget that I have seen here, heck, the only budget that I've seen in the two years that I've been here, who fought alongside us to say, why don't we adopt the Republican study committee's budget for the Republican Party. And we didn't get agreement to do that. We need someone who will do that and we need someone who is the head of the largest caucus in the Republican conference, someone like Kevin Hern.

So, it's my privilege to put an official nomination, Kevin Hern for speaker of the House. Thank you and I yield back.

JOHNSON: The reading clerk will call the roll.

BLITZER: All right. So the 11th round of voting now begins. We'll see what happens. The last round they just made it official. So, once again the Democratic minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, he got the most votes 212.

Kevin McCarthy the Republican leader, he got only 200. You need 218 to be elected speaker of the House. We'll see what happens in this the 11th round right now.

We'll continue to follow all of this unfolding. This is history that's unfolding on Capitol Hill right now, the deadlocked speaker's election. There's so much at stake with what's going on. Stay with us. This is a special edition of The Situation Room.



BURNETT: Welcome back to our breaking coverage of the vote for speaker of the House.

One of the key holdouts refusing to support Kevin McCarthy just telling CNN there's an offer on paper to try to break this Republican stalemate being reviewed by members in the whip's office right now. Right now is the 11th round of voting. It is the fifth round today.

This is not something that McCarthy had wanted. They wanted to adjourn, didn't have the votes for that, but here they are in this 11th round.

Joining me now, Republican Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio. He is among the Republicans who have nominated McCarthy in one of these now 11 rounds.

Congressman, I really appreciate your time. I just want to start with what happened on the floor, something we had not seen, and that is, you saw Bob Good stand up and nominate Kevin Hern. Byron Donalds was not nominated, right? This is the person who had been carrying 20, those 20 votes.

What does that mean? Is Byron Donalds in on this deal?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R-OH): Yeah, he is. I think he agreed to draw support for a bigger number than 20. Obviously they were not able to do that. And Kevin Hern continued to build some momentum. They said, right, we could lean on Kevin Hern as a consensus builder. But meanwhile, as you alluded to, there's a sign of hope that there is consensus emerging, some framework that we can get across the finish line. We've been fighting the good fight. We've been keeping the faith. Now we got to finish the race and get this done.

BURNETT: So, just to be clear, your understanding is that Representative Byron Donalds is in. He's now on board with McCarthy. He's on board with this deal that we understand has been circulating?

DAVIDSON: Well, I don't know if he'll vote for Kevin McCarthy at this point, but I doubt that he'll vote for Byron Donalds this round. So we'll see how the votes go.

BURNETT: And what is your understanding of how many people if -- you know, of this deal we understand is circulating? Congressman Norman said it was an offer on paper and he was taking a look at it. How many people are in on any deal, as you understand it, to switch their support because of the deal and back McCarthy?

DAVIDSON: Well, I can tell you, as of last night, I think there were probably somewhere greater than five members who have no plans to ever get to yes with Kevin McCarthy.


And that's the challenges. Can we find a way to overcome the fact that he's at least five votes short of a true majority of the 435 full number of the House? There are a couple ways we can accomplish that. And then there's maybe a sign that, yeah, well, I never thought this would be on the table. And, okay, maybe I can get behind this deal.

BURNETT: So you are still hoping -- or do you believe that there will be some psychological impact on that group of five or as Congressman Sessions was just saying, he was describing it to me as up to seven on eight, that they will -- because there is some sort of a deal and a few of the 20 start to back McCarthy, that that psychologically is going to make a difference? I mean, is that -- is that what you're hoping on right now?

DAVIDSON: I don't know if it is psychology. I think just cool reason looking at it. And, you know, I think you're going to get at least ten. And, you know, maybe 15 of those votes. But, you know, there are a couple people at least that are very anchored in not supporting Kevin. So I don't think there will be unanimity.

But I do think that you're going to be able to win over a lot of votes. Hopefully, we'll get there. And we'll see soon, I think.

BURNETT: So I just mentioned Congressman Norman, and he just walked out of that meeting. What he had to say, Congressman Davidson, to CNN is this is changes we want. He then continued to say this is round one.

Does that make you feel good or bad?

DAVIDSON: I don't think we got a lot of rounds left. I think there is one more round left in this fight. We'll see where people's patience goes.

I think what you'll see after this vote is probably support for a motion to adjourn. People will have dialogue about what's in the deal, not just the people that have been at the negotiating table but the whole conference has to come up to speed on this deal. And then at some point, whether it's later tonight or sometime tomorrow, we'll probably have another vote. And then we'll see, where does everyone stand?

But on this vote, I wouldn't expect anything to change on this outcome but when it's just been called now as they're working through the roll.

BURNETT: All right, Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And you see the vote board there now, U.S. speaker's vote. As we're in round 11.

So, Scott, let me start with you. What do you read into that? When he says nothing is going to change -- I mean, obviously, something going to change. People could still vote, of course, for Donalds, but he wasn't nominated.


BURNETT: So what are we looking for here? If there is a deal that's going to peel off a few people, let's hold off for a moment that's not going to be enough, what you are going to see in this vote that's going to show you that?

JENNINGS: You want to see if somebody got offered a deal, got briefed on a deal and said like it. Now I'm switching my vote to McCarthy. And so, that's the question.

Now, it looks like Biggs has voted for Hern. Bishop voted for Donalds. Boebert voted for Hern. Brecheen voted for Hern. Cloud voted for Donalds.

So, we're obviously going to go to another ballot here. But did one, three, four, five people switch over to McCarthy, that's what we've been waiting for all day. Can Kevin McCarthy grow this thing? That's the purpose of the supposed deal. It hasn't been socialized enough to bring it in.

BURNETT: Well, it sounds like what he is saying and what Congressman Norman said coming out of the room, even if it is this deal, you're not going see any change on this vote.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's been reduced to writing yet, right? My guess is that it's still reduced and hasn't been socialized yet. Maybe some people read it. Maybe many some people have been read on it. I don't think you'll see numbers change on this vote. Maybe the next vote we'll see some numbers change, but I don't think


BURNETT: OK, let's get into the fact, John, that we don't have the other -- even if it does change, eventually, and say this vote stays the same. That doesn't mean there is no deal. You have another vote, put a pin in that. You have a problem with the numbers tomorrow.

But you still have these five, six, you don't have enough.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. You don't. The math doesn't work.

Now the question is a question of momentum, right? That's what the McCarthy people hope.


AVLON: If this deal can pull over another 10, you can say momentum shifting back to Kevin McCarthy's direction and that's a reason to keep on fighting. Now, Davidson just said this is a 12 round fight tonight. That's what he said. But he acknowledged that you're not going to hit the necessary threshold even if everything breaks his way.

So, we're looking at this going into the weekend, potentially tomorrow at least. And those numbers get more complicated. So, look, it will give Kevin McCarthy an argument for why he shouldn't give up. But it's not enough to get the job done.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's the problem. Kevin McCarthy is now essentially -- you have and his team. This is beat the clock, because as we said, starting tomorrow, you start to lose members. And then the numbers shift all over again. So even if they feel like they may be gaining some momentum throughout this, the course of this vote, they're still running up against a very hard deadline of just not, again, the math. The math is not there.

BURNETT: Not formally, by the way. But we are appearing -- we are can formally say it appears that Kevin McCarthy has lost the 11th round.



That wouldn't be surprising. He lost the other ten. It looks exactly like --

BURNETT: Right, it's going to look --

AXELROD: But I think there are two aspects of this that -- we shouldn't lose sight of the other one. Yes, it is still, I think John is right. The thing here is to keep him in the ring. Just extend the boxing analogy. He's been beaten and beaten and there's been speculation that he couldn't make it. They want to show momentum to keep him in the ring. But, you know, to

get out of the sports analogy, there are real life implications of what is going on.

A lot of people want to know what is on that paper. A lot of people want to know what commitments have been made to get these votes, because that's a big concern to people, to Republicans in that caucus, to Democrats in the Congress. And it should be a concern to Americans.

How much has Kevin McCarthy been willing to give away beyond the really extensive concessions he already made and what's left other than the gavel?

BURNETT: Yeah. And when you hear Norman say, this is round one.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You guys must know the folks who run the master class series, right? Because they could just cut to the House of Representatives. They don't even need to create a master class on appeasement.

This is the master class on appeasement, watching Kevin McCarthy try to negotiate his way into the speakership. Everything the hard-liners want, they are taking notes that the holdouts are getting it. And everything Kevin McCarthy said, he would never give away, motion to vacate, the Jeffersonian ideals, five is the number. Boom, it's gone to one.

AXELROD: I'm relieved. I thought you were going to say a master class on legislating. What is she talking about?


HOOVER: This is appeasement. And this is exactly how -- I mean, this is exactly how you don't get strength and respect to have an effective speakership. And to the question is, forget about how he's going to rule ever gets there. He's giving it all away.

URBAN: So, Margaret, my question to you, is so who could take that rein? Who could take the rein --

HOOVER: He is ruining it for anybody who could get it.

URBAN: No, in this current environment, right, with the never Kevins, let's call them that, right, who could straddle the two groups, right, and rule effectively?

HOOVER: If Kevin McCarthy cared about the institution he wants to lead, he would have taken the note three, six, five rounds ago.

URBAN: Who do you propose? Who is that person?

HOOVER: The problem is the more and more he gives away, David, the more and more and likely it is that anyone can rule this Congress.

URBAN: You make completely opposite argument. If you give in, right, and give into the folks completely, right, then they win. If Kevin goes away, then the inmates are running the asylum completely.

FINNEY: Wait a second.

AXELROD: Well, that horse may have left the barn.

FINNEY: Where we started -- I was going to say, where we started several hours ago with my colleague David Axelrod saying the 20, they've already won. The fact that we are still here on round 11, 12, we're talking about going into tomorrow, they've actually already won because no one, anyone takes it over at this point --

BURNETT: And then just to emphasize, Scott, if it goes into tomorrow, the numbers are done totally different. You lose McCarthy support because people are away for the weekend.

JENNINGS: Exactly. We don't have a handle on that. So what we're looking for right now is any switches on this, then do they try to adjourn and do they even have the votes to do that? When do the absences start to kick in? And do the intransigents stay above five? That's really the four things I'm looking for.

BURNETT: Right. And when do they adjourn, too, given those absences?

All right. All staying with us. We're staying on top of this unbelievable drama unfolding on Capitol Hill. McCarthy right now huddled with his key negotiators. So will this deal work?