12:37pm Tuesday January 10: The House rules package that was proposed to get the far-right Republicans to vote for McCarthy has passed the House by 220-213. Just one Republican voted with all Democrats against this package.
4:47pm Rep Kevin McCarthy has been elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives. In the 15th and final round, he defeated Dem Jeffries by 216-212, with the six previous holdouts all voting “present”. That lowered the requirement for a majority to 215 votes, with 428 total votes for all candidates.
3:47pm McCarthy may have done a deal with Gaetz. It was proposed that the House adjourn until Monday US time, but Reps changed their vote against adjournment, so there’ll be another vote today.
3:18pm Two of the remaining six holdouts voted “present”, but the other four voted for other candidates. McCarthy won 216 of the 432 total candidate votes, which put him one short of a majority (217). The present votes were Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.
9:25am Saturday: It’s been a great day for McCarthy as he flipped 15 of the 21 Rep holdouts in the two rounds this morning, and now leads Dem Jeffries by 214-212 with six votes for another. That’s McCarthy’s first plurality, though he’s still three short of the current 217 needed to win.
The House has adjourned until 10pm US eastern today (2pm AEDT). Two McCarthy supporters were absent this morning, and are expected to return. That will give McCarthy 216 votes, but the votes for a majority will also increase to 218. So McCarthy will need two of the six remaining holdouts to win.
12:17pm House is adjourned until noon Friday US eastern (4am Saturday AEDT).
11:45am Friday There have now been 11 rounds of voting, with five conducted today so far. Dem Jeffries still leads with 212 votes, with Rep McCarthy on 200. McCarthy lost a vote from the absence of Rep Ken Buck. The current threshold to win is 217 votes. There may be a deal between McCarthy and some of the holdouts, and we could see movement to McCarthy in votes later today or tomorrow.
Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
To win the US House of Representatives Speaker position, a candidate needs a majority of all those voting for a candidate. This is not necessarily a majority of the overall House because abstentions and those voting “present” are not counted. As in Australia, the Speaker position must be filled before the House can consider other business.
At the November midterm elections, Republicans won the House by a 222-213 majority over Democrats, and the death of a Democrat increased that to 222-212 until a by-election is held in February. Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) was the first sitting of the new Congress since the election.
There have been six rounds of voting for Speaker in two days – the first time the Speaker election has gone to multiple rounds since 1923. Democrat Hakeem Jeffries has united the Democratic caucus to win 212 votes, and is ahead of Republican Kevin McCarthy, who has had between 201 and 203 votes.
McCarthy’s problems are coming from his right, with 20 Republicans voting for another candidate in the latest ballot, and one voting “present”. McCarthy has dropped two votes since the first round to be on 201 votes. In the first three rounds the threshold to win was 218 votes, with that reduced to 217 owing to the “present” vote in the last three.
The longest Speaker election occurred in 1855, when it took 133 rounds of voting over two months for a new Speaker to be chosen. Without a Speaker in place, the House cannot set up committees or start investigations into Joe Biden’s presidency. Republicans want these investigations, so surely they will work out some deal for a Republican Speaker soon?
Senator Kyrsten Sinema switches from Democrat to independent
Most of this section is from this December 19 Conversation article. Shortly after Democrats won the December 6 Georgia Senate runoff election to seal a 51-49 federal Senate majority, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema defected from the Democrats to become an independent.
Slate reported on a September poll that showed Sinema was unpopular with all Arizona demographics sampled. Sinema was at net -17 overall, net -20 with Democrats and net -18 with Republicans. She performed better with independent voters, but was still at net -10 with them.
Sinema is up for re-election in November 2024. Democrats are likely to run their own candidate against Sinema and a Republican. A December poll for Democrat Ruben Gallego’s campaign gave Sinema just 13% running as an independent behind 41% for Republican Kari Lake and 40% for Gallego. If Sinema did not run, Gallego would lead Lake by 48-47.
Other news: UK, Fiji, Brazil and Israel
It’s over two months since Rishi Sunak became Britain’s PM. Labour continues to hold a massive lead over the Conservatives, with Labour at about the mid 40s and the Conservatives in the mid 20s. At a December 15 by-election in the safe Labour seat of Stretford and Urmston, Labour defeated the Conservatives by 69.6% to 15.9% (60.3-27.5 at the 2019 general election).
The 55 Fijian parliamentary seats are elected by proportional representation with a 5% threshold. After the December 14 election, three opposition parties formed an alliance to oust Frank Bainamarama, who had become PM after a coup in 2007. These three parties combined won 29 of the 55 seats, to 26 for Bainamarama’s FijiFirst. At the December 24 first parliamentary session after the election, Sitiveni Rabuka was elected PM with 28 votes to 27 for Bainamarama, with Bainamarama conceding defeat peacefully.
Following his victory at the October 30 runoff election, the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) replaced the far-right Jair Bolsonaro as Brazilian president last Sunday. And in Israel, a right-wing government was sworn in on December 29 under former long-serving PM Benjamin Netanyahu after four right-wing parties won 64 of the 120 Knesset seats at the November 1 election.