Speaker of the House position remains empty following 11 rounds of voting

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-05 21:19:49-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After 11 rounds of voting, members of Congress still cannot agree on who should serve as Speaker of the House.

The stalemate has pitted Republicans against one another as they square off over U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s nomination. At the center of the debate is Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who has been one of the 20 holdouts preventing his win.

On the Democratic side of the Colorado congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Diana DeGette have all voted for U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries 11 times, along with Congresswomen-elect Brittany Pettersen and Yadira Caraveo.

On the 11th round, Neguse was chosen to nominate Jeffries for the speakership.

On the Republican side of the Colorado congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn have both consistently voted for McCarthy.

In a statement, Lamborn said he will continue to strongly support McCarthy and called on the Republican hold-outs to stop with the delays.

“Right now, as the vote for speaker is being held hostage by a small faction of our party, the Biden administration is going unchecked. There is no oversight of the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, or the intelligence community. And the border remains open. We cannot let personal politics place the safety and security of the United States at risk,” the statement read.

While his vote has remained consistent, Buck missed the vote in the 9th, 10th and 11th rounds to fly back to Colorado.

"Congressman Buck returned to Colorado this afternoon for a planned non-emergency medical procedure. He hopes to return to D.C. as soon as possible and get back to work for the American people,” said spokesman Joe Jackson.

At this point, it is unclear when Buck will make it back to Washington, D.C. to be able to participate in voting once again. However, with his absence, the threshold for electing a new speaker lowers slightly to reach a majority. McCarthy also loses a vote with Buck’s absence.

On CNN Wednesday, Buck said his understanding is that the 20 Republicans who are voting against McCarthy have made a blood oath to all move together or none of them will move at all. He said the ones who have sworn not to vote for McCarthy can still keep their word by voting present or skipping the vote altogether.

However, if it’s clear McCarthy cannot get the votes, Buck told CNN he may consider voting for someone else.

“I certainly would consider it. The only person I would not consider nominating for the worst job in America is Ken Buck, other than that I am wide open,” he said.

Boebert, meanwhile, has cast three votes for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, four votes for U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds and four votes for U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern.

Time and again in interviews, Boebert has said she is looking for a consensus candidate who can lead the party. However, fellow Republicans have accused the 20 voting against McCarthy of consistently moving the goal post with their demands anytime a concession is made.

In an interview with Fox News Channel on Tuesday, Boebert said she has been asking for common sense concessions since the summer, like putting forward a border security bill and one dealing with term limits. She also called for a single-member motion to vacate the speaker position.

Those are concessions that McCarthy said he agreed to in negotiations overnight. Nevertheless, the 20 have continued to vote against McCarthy in Thursday’s votes.

Then on the House floor Thursday, Boebert said McCarthy has threatened to pull committee assignments from those who are continually voting against him.

“I understand that threats have been made about committee assignments, that you won't receive committee assignments if you do not vote for Kevin McCarthy. That is true. It happened in conference, and that is exactly what we were told. But we don't govern in fear. We govern for the people on principle. Don't be afraid to do the right thing,” Boebert said.

Pettersen, who has not yet been sworn in as an official member of Congress, described this moment in U.S. history as disappointing and unprecedented.

“I’m definitely not feeling positive about how the first week is starting and what that means for the next two years. I'm frustrated as somebody who worked really hard to get here to get to work for my community,” she said.

Pettersen's husband and son had flown out earlier in the week to watch her get sworn in, but had to fly back to Colorado because of the delays. She doesn’t believe they will be able to fly back out for the ceremony because of the uncertainty around when that will happen.

On her official account, Pettersen tweeted a picture of her son sleeping on the House floor as the voted continued to pour in over the speakership.

More importantly, Pettersen said the delay in electing a speaker is having real consequences on the country, including uncertainty about committee makeup, rules for governing and even paying staff.

“It also poses a security risk when you think about the House not having an identified speaker, and the national, international and national security risks that that we can potentially face,” she said. “I don't know how long this is going to go on, and how long we're going to be held hostage here on the floor without an identified leader to move forward with the business of the country. And so, I am disappointed with the current situation.”

While she has not been in the room with Democratic leadership, she says there are no real discussions among Democrats that she’s heard of about members abstaining from voting to help McCarthy cross the majority threshold.

For now, the stalemate in Congress continues. The question now is who is going to blink first.