Kevin McCarthy comes up short on 14th ballot for Speaker seat

Kevin McCarthy comes up short on 14th ballot for Speaker seat

Kevin McCarthy comes up short on 14th ballot for Speaker seat

Americans got a four-day lesson in how grueling politics can be as they watched members of the House of Representatives struggle through the 14th ballot late Friday night -- and still come up short on choosing a Speaker for the 118th Congress.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy edged to the cusp of becoming House speaker late Friday night as the weary but energized members pushed through a tension-filled, historic 14th vote. McCarthy made an extraordinary surge, laboring to end the grueling standoff that has tested American democracy and the GOP majority’s ability to unify behind one House leader.

Before the vote, McCarthy had flipped 15 conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, leaving him just a few shy of seizing the gavel for the new Congress.

The House gaveled in late in the night, giving time for last-minute negotiations and for absent Republican colleagues time to return to Washington if their votes were needed. But the chamber drew tense and still as the roll call fell short by one vote.

Even after two key Republican holdouts voted present to lower the tally he would need, it was not enough. McCarthy strode to the back of the chamber to confront Matt Gaetz sitting with Lauren Boebert and other holdouts. Fingers pointed, words exchanged and colleagues stared on in disbelief.

McCarthy had declared to reporters earlier in the day that he believed “we’ll have the votes to finish this once and for all.”

The day’s stunning turn of events came after McCarthy agreed to many of the detractors’ demands -- including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.

After the roughly hour-long process, the House considered adjourning until Monday, but that vote failed ... setting the stage for a 15th ballot.