House leadership vote in chaos as Kevin McCarthy fails on third ballot to secure speakership

Republicans walked out of their 9:30 a.m. conference, with both parties sticking to their positions just before the new Congress was called. McCarthy told reporters afterwards that the meeting was “intense” but that he would not be held hostage by the Freedom Caucus and said he was ready for a battle on the House floor.

“There are times when we’re going to have to argue with our own members, if they’re considering — for positions just for themselves, not for the country,” McCarthy said. He added that over the past two months, Republicans have worked to craft rules that empower all members of Congress, “but we’re not empowering some members over others.”

He also said of the proposal by far-right Freedom Caucus members: “I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals who want something for themselves. So we can have a battle on the floor. But the battle is for the conference in the country, and that’s fine.”

Gaetz reiterated his opposition, saying, “Everything I’ve heard has strengthened my resolve that this city desperately needs change. And if it’s a few of us who have to stand in the breach to force it , we’re ready to do it for as long as it takes.”

McCarthy told reporters before heading upstairs to the House floor that he’s “not going anywhere” when asked if he would stay in the race. “We had an intense conference and it’s intense for a goal,” McCarthy said. “We worked for a long time.”

McCarthy said that last night a group of Republicans offered him the opportunity to get into 218 “if I provided certain members with certain positions, certain hammers to take over certain committees in order to have certain budgets.”

“Well, it’s not about America, and I will always fight to put the American people first, not a few individuals who want something for themselves,” McCarthy said. “We can have a battle on the field. But the battle is for the conference and the country, and that’s fine with me.”

Rebecca Kaplan, John Nolen

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