Rep-elect Byron Donalds, R-Fla., sent the House into turmoil on Tuesday when he changed his vote for House Speaker from embattled Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio — as McCarthy struggles to reach the threshold of winning the hammer.
Donalds had backed McCarthy for the first two votes, which allowed neither candidate to reach the 218 votes needed after 19 Republicans defected – the first time in nearly a century that additional votes were needed for a candidate from the majority.
Some wayward Republicans had voted for elected Representatives Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, Jordan, Jim Banks, Lee Zeldin, R-NY and Donalds himself in the first round. Jordan got all the non-McCarthy GOP votes in the second and third rounds. Democrats, meanwhile, remained united around Representative-elect Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY.
In the third vote, Donalds was asked about his selection and chose Jordan, bringing to 20 the number of Republicans voting for anyone other than McCarthy. Jordan said he supported McCarthy.
MCCARTHY FALLS OUT IN THIRD HOUSE PRESIDENT’S VOTE AS JORDAN GAINS MOMENTUM
Donalds’ vote immediately drew murmurs throughout the chamber, as well as a round of applause from Republican lawmakers opposed to McCarthy’s candidacy. In the end, Jordan received 20 votes from the GOP, while McCarthy received 202 and Jeffries received 212 votes from his fellow Democrats.
In an interview on “Kudlow” after the vote, Donalds said he changed his vote because he didn’t believe McCarthy had all 218 votes yet.
“I voted for Kevin on the first two ballots, and it’s just not clear he has the votes,” he said.
MCCARTHY SHORT OF VOTES AS SPOKESPERSON CONTEST ENTERS LAST HOURS
He said McCarthy had the ability to hit the threshold but “there’s a lot of work to do”.
“I think if you’re asking members to vote over and over again to try and wear people out, I think it actually has the opposite effect,” he said. “My perspective has been for us to call a suspension, walk into a room, figure it out, have these conversations, and then head back upstairs.”
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Shortly after the vote, the House moved to adjourn until noon Wednesday, meaning the House will not elect a speaker until at least that time. No member has been sworn in and cannot be sworn in until a chair is elected.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares and Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.