McAllen, Texas (Border Report) — Republicans failed six times to get behind a single leader for Speaker of the House, and one issue dogging the GOP is deciding who will best protect the Southwest border.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, on Wednesday nominated U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida, to lead the 118th Congress, saying he will be a better leader than U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy.
A conservative who has been to the South Texas border multiple times, Roy called Washington, D.C., a “swamp” and said under McCarthy’s leadership Republicans want “to spend money we don’t have and continue to leave our borders open.”
On Wednesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, received more votes than McCarthy during three rounds of voting, but with Republicans holding control of the House, Jeffries is not expected to turn GOP votes to get the threshold needed to win.
Vote totals for the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots on Wednesday ended with the same results: McCarthy received 201 votes; Jeffries received 212 votes.
Donalds received 20 votes in all three voting rounds, which occurred one after the other.
Support for Donalds has taken votes away from McCarthy and made it mathematically impossible for him to receive the 218 majority votes necessary to become Speaker based on the slim four-vote Republican majority the GOP holds.
As Republican Rep. Kat Commack, of Florida, nominated McCarthy for Speaker before a sixth round of voting on Wednesday afternoon, she urged unity among the GOP members on border issues.
“Yesterday as we sat in this chamber over 200 people were poisoned by fentanyl that came through an open border because of Biden’s open border policy. Over 5,000 people came through the border because of Biden’s open border policy. These are the issues people care about,” Commack said.
Then she chastised fellow members for failing to unite and called the voting “Groundhog Day again.”
“We cannot even begin to govern because heck we can’t even swear in as members of Congress,” Commack said. “We must commit to unite instead of division.”
“If only we took this many floor votes on immigration reform,” Rep. Lou Correa, D-California, tweeted.
Republican U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, of Indiana, pulled her support for McCarthy on Wednesday and voted “present” during the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of voting. She told CNN after the fifth round that the House should adjourn and she was against a sixth ballot.
Spartz was among a Republican delegation that visited the South Texas border last April and urged the Biden administration to better enforce immigration laws and secure the border. That was her second visit in a few weeks and she touted to Border Report that she was the only Republican who had then taken part in a previous tour of the El Paso border.
“The leadership of the current administration created a very serious escalation of this situation,” Spartz said at the time calling the border “a very serious humanitarian and national security crisis. I see Border Patrol overwhelmed.”
Texas representatives from the Southwest border voted along party lines on Wednesday, with Democratic U.S. Reps. Victoria Escobar, of El Paso; Henry Cuellar, of Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, of McAllen, all repeatedly voting for Jeffries. Republican U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, of West Texas, and freshman Monica De La Cruz, of McAllen, voted for McCarthy.
Gonzalez told Border Report that McCarthy did not have a chance to win the speakership.
“It doesn’t matter what McCarthy agrees to. He’s a cadaver that will never resuscitate,” Gonzalez told Border Report.
And he touted a bill he filed in the 117th Congress, the Safe Zones Act, that would set up a green zone on the southern border of Mexico with Guatemala where asylum seekers would apply to enter the United States, preventing them from making the dangerous journey north and paying Mexican transnational criminal organizations to take them across the Rio Grande.
The “Safe Zones Act is the only real solution to our southern border,” he said.
After a third deadlocked vote on Wednesday, the House adjourned until 8 p.m. ET. They then voted to reconvene on Thursday at noon.