By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Despite a number of members from the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus voting against U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, for speaker of the House, Wyoming congresswoman Harriet Hageman was not among.
On Tuesday, Hageman backed McCarthy in all three votes taken for House speaker.
“Mr. McCarthy,” Hageman answered the clerk in her vote on the third go-round Tuesday afternoon.
While Hageman already said she would back McCarthy prior to Tuesday’s vote, her steadfast allegiance has made that stance more official.
Although a historic stalemate on the speaker elections was expected by the time Tuesday morning rolled around, it was unclear how much opposition to McCarthy would impact the vote.
The first day of the 118th Congress was for the most part dysfunctional, with Republicans unable to find enough consensus to move on to other scheduled items like swearing representatives in.
Because this agenda item was not reached, Hageman – along with all the newly elected House members – has still not been sworn into office.
Tuesday was the first time since 1923 that the House has failed to elect a speaker on its first roll call.
The splintered votes paint a picture of disunity within a Republican Party that just won back a majority in the House for the first time since 2016.
After the second unsuccessful vote, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, expressed concern that Democrats will exploit the GOP’s lack of unity.
“If the base only understood that 19 Republicans voting against McCarthy are playing Russian roulette with our hard-earned Republican majority,” she said on Twitter. “This is the worst thing that could possibly happen.”
Opposition To McCarthy
The coalition of hard-right lawmakers opposing McCarthy have expressed displeasure that his policies are not conservative enough and have demanded rule changes that weaken the power of House leadership.
A group that includes Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have demanded a rule that allows a vote at any time to oust a speaker, and another rule that allows lawmakers to use spending bills to defund specific programs and fire federal officials or reduce their pay.
According to The New York Times, prior to the first vote, McCarthy privately made a case that Republicans voting against him were selfishly disrupting what was supposed to be a day of party unity for their own personal gain.
“I earned this job,” McCarthy was quoted as saying
“Bullshit!” Boebert yelled in response.
Hageman’s potential future membership in the House Freedom Caucus is still unknown and her votes Tuesday don’t necessarily put her at odds with being admitted as a member, as a number of the other members like Greene voted for McCarthy.
Nineteen Republicans voted against McCarthy in the first two votes for speaker. In the second vote, they consolidated their votes behind Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Jordan spoke virtually at the Save America Rally hosted by former President Donald Trump in Casper last May on Hageman’s behalf.
In the third vote, McCarthy lost one supporter, bringing Jordan to 20. To win the speaker position, a candidate must receive a majority of 218 votes. After of the third vote, McCarthy was 16 votes shy.
McCarthy campaigned for Hageman in Jackson during last summer’s primary and donated money to her campaign. The two were aligned in opposition of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, Hageman’s primary opponent.
Cheney spoke out against McCarthy for supporting former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. McCarthy, in turn, helped remove Cheney from her No. 3 leadership position in the House.
Try Again Wednesday
Hageman was scheduled to be sworn in, along with the other 81 new members of the House, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but that oath has been delayed because of the speaker election.
Although not sworn in, the members-elect vote for the speaker verbally by calling out when their names are called. Once a speaker is sworn in, members of the House will then be administered the oath of office by the new speaker.
The House has adjourned until 10 a.m. Wednesday when a fourth vote will commence.