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Top US Republican Kevin McCarthy fails in three votes to become ...

Top US Republican Kevin McCarthy fails in three votes to become
The US House of Representatives adjourns in disarray, failing to pick a new speaker after a group a of hardline Republicans refused to back the party's frontrunner Kevin McCarthy.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has failed in three rounds of voting to become House speaker, a historic defeat with no clear way out as House Republicans dig in for a long, messy start for the new Congress. 

Key points:
  • Mr McCarthy is the leading candidate to replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi but is struggling to win the support of a small group on the right of his party
  • Even with an endorsement from former President Trump, Mr McCarthy fell short
  • He became the first nominee in 100 years to fail to win the gavel from his fellow party members on the initial vote

The House adjourned for the day without voting in a new speaker, agreeing to meet again at noon on Wednesday (local time). 

Needing 218 votes in the full House, Mr McCarthy got just 203 in two rounds — less even than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber.

A third ballot was even worse, with Mr McCarthy losing 20 votes as night fell on the new House GOP majority, tensions rising as all other business came to a halt. 

Mr McCarthy had pledged a "battle on the floor" for as long as it took to overcome right-flank fellow Republicans who were refusing to give him their votes.

But it was not at all clear how the embattled GOP leader could rebound after becoming the first House speaker nominee in 100 years to fail to win the gavel from his fellow party members on the initial vote.

Before the second vote, rival-turned-McCarthy ally, conservative representative Jim Jordan from Ohio, who got six votes in the first round, rose to urge his colleagues to drop their opposition.

"We have to rally around him, come together," Mr Jordan said of Mr McCarthy.

Mr Jordan got six votes in the first round, 19 in the second round and 20 in the third.

A white man in a blue suit stands in front of a group of smiling people in suits at a news conference.
Kevin McCarthy with House GOP leadership after the party's midterm wins.(AP Photo: Jacquelyn Martin)
Votes lost in protest 

Without a speaker, the House cannot fully form — swearing in its members, naming its committee chairmen, engaging in floor proceedings and launching investigations of the Biden administration.

"We all came here to get things done," second-ranking Republican Steve Scalise said in a rousing speech urging his colleagues to drop their protest.

Railing against President Joe Biden's agenda, Mr Scalise said: "We can't start fixing those problems until we elect Kevin McCarthy our next speaker."

It was a chaotic start to the new Congress and pointed to a tangled road ahead with Republicans now in control of the House.

While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, barely, House Republicans are eager to confront President Joe Biden's agenda after two years of Democratic Party control of both houses of Congress.

A new generation of conservative Republicans wants to upend business as usual in Washington, and was committed to stopping Mr McCarthy's rise without concessions to their priorities.

Nancy Pelosi
Mr McCarthy was considered the Republican frontrunner in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi.(AP: Andrew Harnik)

Smiling through it all, Mr McCarthy huddled briefly with aides, then appeared intent on simply trying to wear down his colleagues.

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Earlier, he strode into the chamber, posed for photos, and received a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle after being nominated by the third-ranking Republican Elise Stefanik of New York.

Ms Stefanik said the Californian from gritty Bakersfield "has what it takes" to lead House Republicans.

But on the first vote a challenge was quickly raised by Representative Andy Biggs from Arizona, a conservative former leader of the Freedom Caucus, who was nominated by a fellow conservative as speaker.

In all, 19 Republicans peeled away, denying Mr McCarthy the majority he needs as they cast votes for Mr Biggs, Mr Jordan or others in protest.

Mr Jeffries, the Democratic leader, won the most votes in the second round. (AP: Alex Brandon)
Viable challenger yet to emerge

The mood was tense, at least on the Republican side, as members rose from their seats, in lengthy in-person voting.

Democrats were joyous as they cast their own historic votes for their leader, Mr Jeffries of New York.

Mr Jeffries had the most with 212 votes, but no nominee won a majority.

In the first-round tally, Mr McCarthy won 203 votes, with 10 for Mr Biggs and nine for other Republicans.

In the second, it was 203 for Mr McCarthy and 19 for Mr Jordan.

A viable challenger to McCarthy had yet to emerge.

Mr Scalise of Louisiana could be a next choice, a conservative widely liked by his colleagues and seen by some as a hero after surviving a gunshot wound suffered during a congressional baseball game practice in 2017.

A speaker's contest last went multiple rounds in 1923 when MPs took several days and nine ballots to decide.

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Kevin McCarthy fails to secure majority in House Speaker vote

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