Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries Fans House GOP Flames, Cheers on Chaos Anti-McCarthy Members Creating

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., joined by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-C
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Election denier and Democrat House leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) fanned the flames of the ongoing GOP battle for speaker of the House on Tuesday by cheering on the chaos Freedom Caucus members are creating.

On Tuesday, House members will vote for a new speaker. For McCarthy to win the gavel, he needs nearly all the Republicans to vote for him. But a few Freedom Caucus members are throwing a wrench into McCarthy’s path. Though McCarthy has tried to resolve his critics’ concerns, an impasse exists as negotiations continue.

Election denier Jeffries, the Democrats’ new House leader, told Spectrum News he is worried “extreme MAGA Republicans” could take control of the House.

“What is clear is that the House Republican leadership is catering to the extremes in order to get the votes necessary to be successful and emerge with the speakership in hand,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) listed demands he claimed McCarthy opposed, creating the impasse between McCarthy and the Freedom Caucus.

To win the speakership, McCarthy must win a majority of the votes of those members present on the House floor. Breitbart News’s Matt Boyle reported the specifics:

Any absences or “present” votes lower the threshold by a half vote below what full House attendance–435 members–would require to achieve such a majority, which is 218 votes. Since one Democrat died in late November, the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), the number is already down to at most 434 members for full attendance–and could drop lower if more Democrats do not show up or vote present. If all the other Democrats show up, it would still require 218 votes to elect a speaker–and Democrats have said they will be at full attendance.

While McCarthy’s team is confident he will get there, it is possible he might not. If he does not get a majority on the first ballot, Congress will be paralyzed until a speaker is elected. The last time a speakership election went more than one ballot was a century ago, and back in the mid-1800s one speakership election went more than a hundred ballots and took months. One of McCarthy’s top critics, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has said it might not be until the cherry blossoms bloom in the mid- to late spring at the end of March or beginning of April that a speaker is elected. While that would be a far-fetched scenario, chaos is certainly a possibility–or everything could go very smoothly for McCarthy. What happens on Tuesday remains to be seen.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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