The House of Representatives still had no Speaker of the House Wednesday as Kevin McCarthy (CA) failed a sixth round of votes, despite an endorsement from President Trump that drove a wedge between the former president and some of his supporters.
McCarthy has been unable to win the 218 votes he needs to become Speaker, a job he has long coveted, because of pushback from 20 right-wing Republicans like Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who say McCarthy does not represent the conservative movement.
In a speech explaining his position Tuesday, Gaetz called McCarthy "the biggest alligator in the swamp" and said he was no different politically from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
McCarthy failed another three rounds of voting on Wednesday, despite President Trump, who initially stayed out of the controversy, wading in with a vocal endorsement for McCarthy.
Trump exhorted Republicans to avoid turning "A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT."
"CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY, & WATCH CRAZY NANCY PELOSI FLY BACK HOME TO A VERY BROKEN CALIFORNIA, THE ONLY SPEAKER IN U.S. HISTORY TO HAVE LOST THE ‘HOUSE’ TWICE! REPUBLICANS," he wrote.
The controversy has driven a wedge between Trump and Republicans who are ordinarily aligned with the former president, such as Gaetz, who called the former president's endorsement of McCarthy "sad!" in a statement mimicking Trump's style.
But Gaetz emphasized that Trump's position "changes neither my view of McCarthy, nor Trump, nor my vote."
And in a speech on the House floor, Lauren Boebert (CO), another Republican closely aligned with Trump, urged the former president to retract his support for McCarthy.
"The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes, and it's time to withdraw," she said.
In a notable exception, Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), one of the most high-profile Trump supporters in Congress, is supporting McCarthy -- saying the Republicans opposing him are playing "Russian roulette with our hard earned Republican majority."
McCarthy's defenders have accused the MAGA rebels of causing chaos that will work to the advantage of the Democrats, who have rallied behind Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
The 20 Republicans opposed to McCarthy initially backed Jim Jordan (OH), a longtime Trump acolyte, but Jordan said he didn't want the job and endorsed McCarthy. The MAGA rebels switched their votes to Florida Republican Byron Donalds (R) on Wednesday, as Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted present.
In a tweet, Gaetz claimed that McCarthy is "losing it" and threatening to fund an "endless war" against his challengers.