Congresswoman Kat Cammack riles up Democrats during chaotic House speaker vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The chaos in the U.S. House of Representatives continued Wednesday as Congress still didn’t have a speaker of the House following numerous votes.

Republican frontrunner Kevin McCarthy has been unable to secure the 218 votes he needs to become speaker as a group of Republicans, led by Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, continued to vote against him. One nominee some of those Republicans are pushing forward is second-term Congressman Byron Donalds from Southwest Florida.

At about 8:30 p.m., the House — amid shouting — passed a motion to adjourn for a second day and return at noontime Thursday.

RELATED: GOP’s McCarthy voted down time after time for House speaker

Since the process started Tuesday, McCarthy had seemed to lose ground in his push to be speaker of the House. McCarthy needs 218 votes, but with the Republican party only holding a slight majority at 222 seats, he can’t seem to get to the magic number.

“Both sides are dug in. Right now, what’s been so frustrating, is we can’t get a clear ask or series of demands,” said Rep. Mike Waltz, a Republican who has stood fast behind McCarthy for each vote.

“There are 202 of us that have voted to go in this direction and that’s what we need to do, and I’ll be voting for McCarthy as long as he’s on the ballot,” Waltz added.

Just before the sixth round of voting Wednesday afternoon, Florida Representative Kat Cammack, a Republican, nominated McCarthy. When addressing members of the House, she said, “They want us divided, they want us to fight each other, that much is being made clear by the popcorn and blankets and alcohol that’s coming over there.”

Democrats replied, shouting for her comments to be struck, clearly not happy about her accusations. Order was eventually restored.

Earlier Wednesday, in a fourth round of voting, Donalds was nominated as an alternative by a group of around 20 Republicans who want someone other than McCarthy.

“I believe Byron Donalds is the man to lead us to that path of getting America on track and uniting the Republican party,” said Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

RELATED: ‘Florida man’ leads GOP revolt in House speaker vote

Democrats continue to unanimously support their pick in New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who likely can’t get the majority. But after numerous votes with no resolution, questions were swirling about whether Republicans will start moving away from McCarthy and rally around another pick.

“Can Kevin McCarthy pull this off or if there are too many votes like this, does he start to see it slip away?” News4JAX Political Analyst Rick Mullaney said. “The conventional wisdom was, is that he was going to have a difficult time but he was going to be speaker. That conventional wisdom is now out the window.”

Mullaney also said something like this hasn’t happened in the House of Representatives in well over 100 years. Meaning, in the modern era, this is unprecedented. Mullaney suspects it would be on McCarthy to make the decision to withdraw if he feels he can’t get to a majority.

When asked if average Americans care, Mullaney said, “I don’t think average Americans follow the nuances of the first ballot, the second ballot, third ballot. But they do see this as a self-inflicted wound for the Republican party. They do see that this is a challenge for them governing.”

All members of Congress from Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia have supported McCarthy. That includes new Congressman Aaron Bean who had planned to go up to Washington and be sworn in.

Bean tweeted two days ago, “Less than 24 hours until I’m officially sworn in!”

But that can’t happen until there’s a speaker, so it’s unclear when he and other new representatives will be sworn in.

Representative John Rutherford sent News4JAX this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“In November, Republicans ran on our ‘Commitment To America’ – securing our border, ending IRS overreach, blocking wasteful spending, and holding the Biden Administration accountable. Now with a majority in the House, a small minority of obstructionists are holding Congress hostage from delivering on our promises.

“Kevin McCarthy has proven himself a strong leader of the Republican Conference. His guidance, work ethic, and vision delivered a Republican majority in the House that is committed to achieving real results for the American people. There is no one in Congress more deserving of this role than Kevin McCarthy, and I am proud to support him for Speaker.

“It is time for Congress to get to work for the American public and rally behind our Republican nominee for Speaker.”

About the Authors:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.