A congressman added a dramatic flair to his voice vote during the first Friday attempt to elect a House speaker.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) walked a few rows down the aisle before casting his vote. “Kevin,” he said before adding a pregnant pause.
“Hern,” concluded Rosendale with a smug look on his face as he retraced his steps to return to his seat.
The obvious inference was an attempt to troll the congressional Republican gaining the most votes, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
California’s Republican candidate for speaker of the House gained more votes in the 12th voting round than he has in the previous 11 votes. The 213 votes he received are still five short of the 218 needed to replace California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as speaker. He could accede to speaker if five opposing members of Congress are absent or vote “Present.”
McCarthy faces stiff opposition from members of the House Freedom Caucus who reportedly consider him too much a part of the established order. Many of the 35-40 Freedom Caucus members have said they want change and McCarthy would represent the opposite of change.
The speaker candidate has made many concessions to the Freedom Caucus members blocking his election. He has granted their request to allow one member to call for removing the speaker. McCarthy has reportedly offered to add more Freedom Caucus members to the House Rules Committee.
Some moderate Republicans have expressed concern that McCarthy may give away too much of the speaker’s powers which would make him unable to effectively govern the House.
A 13th round of votes late Friday afternoon saw McCarthy gain one more vote, upping his total to 214 votes, according to a CNN report. The House was adjourned until 10 p.m. to allow two McCarthy supporters time to return to Washington, D.C.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt (R-TX) are McCarthy supporters expected to get him within two votes of winning. Pressure is reportedly being placed on six holdouts to vote for McCarthy or vote “Present,” which would lower the number of Yes votes needed for a McCarthy victory.