Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Lauren Boebert Says No House Speaker Means Congress Isn’t Spending Money (That’s Not True)

Boebert, who has been opposing Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speaker, doesn’t seem to entirely understand what that means.

Representative Lauren Boebert speaks at a mic
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Lauren Boebert seems to think that just because the House of Representatives is at a standstill, so is the entire U.S. government.

The far-right Colorado representative spent all Tuesday trying to spin the six consecutive fruitless votes for speaker of the House as a win, insisting that if Congress wasn’t able to do anything, then it couldn’t spend money.

But as MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pointed out, that’s not the case at all.

Any legislation passed in the previous Congress, such as the enormous $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package, is already in motion. Just because the House is completely dysfunctional now doesn’t put that funding on hold.

It’s worth noting that federal spending also covers items such as Boebert’s salary, transportation, and security, so she should probably hope that it doesn’t stop.

Boebert is one of 21 holdouts against Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker of the House. She and 18 other far-right Republicans have voted against him every round. They were joined at the end of Tuesday by Representative Byron Donalds, whom the group put forward as a challenger on Wednesday. Representative Victoria Spartz switched Wednesday from voting “yes” to McCarthy to “present.”

Boebert insisted on the House floor Wednesday that McCarthy does not have the votes to become speaker and should withdraw. In the weirdest twist, Fox News host Sean Hannity noted that she and her cohort also do not have enough votes and should probably also withdraw.

The anti-McCarthy group is refusing to budge, though, and other Republicans have inadvertently begun to say the quiet part out loud: They don’t actually care that much about governing, anyway.

Trying to Save McCarthy, Republicans Admit Their Whole Project Is To Not Govern

“If we’re not doing anything, we’re not doing anything,” said one Republican backing Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy smiles as reporters surround him
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy has now gone 0–6 in his attempts to become the speaker of the House, with Wednesday’s three votes being entirely identical. Meanwhile, some right-wingers have been admitting that since the Republican project doesn’t stand for much, other than putting their thumbs down, they could realistically pick anyone for the job.

Indeed, Republicans, who spend their days decrying Democrats as radicals who will not compromise or “work with the other side,” are once again proving that they have no interest in actually governing. That’s the whole point of their project: little government involvement in helping people lead a better life. And they’re finding more avenues to articulate this. “The stakes for the speakership of the House are incredibly low,” Ben Shapiro argued, “because all the leader of the House, basically, has to do is say ‘no’ to most of Joe Biden’s proposals.”

Some conservatives are even explicitly arguing that Congress’s inability to pick a speaker and conduct the people’s business is good, because, as Representative Tim Burchett, who backs McCarthy, says happily, “If we’re not doing anything, we’re not doing anything.”

And just as some on the right are openly revealing how hollow the conservative project really is, others are admitting how the wheels of Republican politics tend to turn: not by the will of voters but by which way the wind of the most conspiratorial among them blows. Representative Guy Reschenthaler, who has backed McCarthy’s speakership bid, said Tuesday that the Republicans holding out might change their mind once Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity weigh in. Since then, the stalemate has only grown, and there is no clear end in sight.

As with nearly every drama in Congress, we are reminded once again of the apathetic, cynical conservative project, one that is devoid of any concern with making people’s lives better.

McCarthy Faceplant Watch: Six Rounds of Voting and Republicans Still Can’t Pick a House Speaker

When will this end?

Representative Kevin McCarthy holds a hand to his forehead
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy yet again failed to secure the House speaker gavel, after six rounds of voting stretched over two days.

Despite holding a majority in the House, Republicans still can’t coalesce behind McCarthy—or any other candidate for that matter.

McCarthy secured only 201 votes, with Democrat Hakeem Jeffries again securing a plurality of 212 votes. As in the prior two rounds of voting, 20 Republicans voted against McCarthy and for Florida Representative Byron Donalds instead. An additional Republican, Representative Victoria Spartz, voted present for the third time, as a separate form of rebuking McCarthy. Despite the endless hours stuck in the House’s chambers, the dissenters haven’t shown any indication of budging yet.

McCarthy’s loss is especially impressive, given that it means three failures on the same day that former President Donald Trump endorsed his bid for House speaker.

It’s not clear when this floor fight will end, and the House cannot begin governing until there is a speaker. There’s no set deadline, so the drama could be resolved this week or take weeks, or even months, to resolve.

Earlier in the day, Representative Lauren Boebert said former President Donald Trump called the 20 Republicans blocking McCarthy’s bid and told them they “need to knock this off.” No luck, yet.

This post has been updated.

Who Is Byron Donalds? More on the Republican Running Against McCarthy for House Speaker

Twenty Republicans have rallied behind Donalds, to block Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speaker.

Representative Byron Donalds leans over a railing in the House chambers
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Byron Donalds has become the new preferred House speaker candidate for the Republican bloc opposing Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the gavel. The Florida congressman made waves Tuesday when he defected from McCarthy, voting instead for Representative Jim Jordan on the third vote.

Donalds was nominated for House speaker twice on Wednesday, and secured all 20 Republican votes against McCarthy.

Who is Byron Donalds beyond, as his initial nominator, Representative Chip Roy, said, a “Christian,” a “family man,” and now the second Black man nominated to lead the House?

Donalds, like Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Having earned degrees in finance and marketing, Donalds worked at various financial and wealth management firms.

As a young man, Donalds had been arrested on a marijuana charge, which was apparently dropped through a pretrial diversion program. A few years later, Donalds pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge for his role in a plot to defraud a bank—the charge was later expunged. “These were the actions of a young kid, I can’t undo that,” Donalds told a Fox affiliate in 2014.

Donalds first unsuccessfully ran for Florida’s 19th congressional district in 2012. In 2016, he was elected to the Florida state House, going on to win the 19th congressional seat in 2020.

The Florida congressman came into Congress alongside a group of Republicans who called themselves the “Freedom Force,” a counterpart to the Democratic “Squad” that vowed to combat the supposed “evil” of socialism.

Part of this mission apparently entailed lobbying for federal funding for a cobalt plant—one started by an entrenched Republican consultant who once ran the Conservative Leadership PAC and led a firm that netted nearly $1 million from Republican campaigns.

Donalds also enjoyed support from former President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2022. Donalds returned the initial favor, voting to object to the certification of Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election results.

In November, Donalds competed against Representative Elise Stefanik for the role of conference chair, the fourth-highest-ranking position in leadership. Stefanik, who has proudly positioned herself as a Trump supporter, had already endorsed Trump for the 2024 elections; Donalds has not yet done so. Stefanik won the position.

Alliances, just like those in the broader competition for House speaker, are not entirely clear. Trump and many of his allies have stood behind McCarthy. Meanwhile, Donalds and the 19 other Republicans going against McCarthy, who previously echoed how much they love Trump, now say even his support isn’t enough.

More on Politics

McCarthy Faceplant Watch: Five Rounds, No House Speaker, No End in Sight

Kevin McCarthy’s (failed) bid for House speaker continues.

Representative Kevin McCarthy
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy cannot catch a break, losing his fifth consecutive vote for speaker of the House on Wednesday.

The California representative has been open about hoping to seize the gavel, but not only has he repeatedly lost the rounds of voting, he has lost individual votes in the process. In round five, he won just 201 votes out of his party’s 222 seats.

Democratic challenger Hakeem Jeffries again won 212 votes, making him “the lead vote-getter” in each round, as noted by Representative Pete Aguilar, who has officially nominated Jeffries for multiple ballots.

Congress cannot move forward until someone is elected speaker, so the proceedings will continue until someone wins. In Congress’s 200-year history, there have only been 14 instances in which it took more than two ballots to confirm the House speaker. The last one was exactly 100 years ago. It took nine rounds of votes to resolve that battle.

Hopefully it does not take that long this time.

This post has been updated.

McCarthy Faceplant Watch: Four Votes and Still No House Speaker

Kevin McCarthy lost the fourth round of voting for House speaker, with no clear end in sight.

Representative Kevin McCarthy smiles and gives a thumbs up to the camera
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy lost a fourth vote Wednesday to become speaker of the House, as the Republican Party struggles to reach a consensus.

The California Republican has made no secret of his desire to be speaker, and confidently predicted he would have the gavel in hand by round two of voting. But he lost three rounds of ballots Tuesday, embarrassingly receiving fewer votes than his Democratic challenger, Hakeem Jeffries, and even losing votes throughout the day, proving that the third time isn’t really the charm after all.

McCarthy won only 201 votes in the first round on Wednesday, even fewer than the day before. Nineteen Republicans have voted against him every time, and their ranks have grown by two. Representative Byron Donalds switched to the “no” camp late Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Representative Victoria Spartz—who previously backed McCarthy—instead voted “present.” Jeffries again received 212 votes, thanks to his party’s unified backing.

Unfortunately for all of us, the shambolic proceedings will continue until someone is elected speaker. Congress cannot move forward until someone wins. The House cannot approve a rules package for the new session or committee leadership. Politico also reported that if the speakership isn’t filled by January 13, committee staffers would have to go without pay.

In Congress’s 200-year history, there have only been 14 instances in which it took more than two ballots to confirm the House speaker. The last one was exactly 100 years ago. It took nine rounds of votes to resolve that battle.

McCarthy has refused to recess between votes to try to whip up more support. While he could still pull off a victory with fewer than 218 votes, it has already become an exhausting slog.

This piece has been updated.

Democrats Aren’t Willing to Give McCarthy a Win—Yet

Despite murmurings of a possible deal, they are still unified in their opposition to Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Will Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries help resolve Kevin McCarthy's dilemma? Maybe, but not today.

Despite their newfound minority, House Democrats entered the Capitol in relatively good cheer this week, relishing the Republican disarray over who will be the next speaker. While GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy faced several defections in a series of votes for speaker on Tuesday, Democrats were united in their support for Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. With no consensus, the House adjourned in the evening without a speaker—or without actually swearing in any members—ready to pick up where it left off on Wednesday.

While there has been some early speculation about how Democrats might have a role to play in resolving McCarthy’s dilemma, they’ve thus far given no indication that they are ready to offer the would-be House speaker an assist. On Wednesday, Democrats signaled that they would vote against a possible motion to adjourn brought by Republicans, a move that would keep the Republican leader in the hot seat. Jeffries assured me on Wednesday morning that the party would “remain united” and said that he had not spoken to McCarthy about a possible resolution.

“Our colleagues are committed to support Hakeem Jeffries for speaker,” Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he had not heard from his Republican colleagues.

Democrats were also generally unimpressed with the notion, promoted by moderate Republican Representative Don Bacon, that they could offer some support to McCarthy. “I can’t imagine Democrats voting for somebody who accommodated an insurrection and turned his back on the American people for the speaker of the House of Representatives,” said Democratic Representative Dan Kildee after a Wednesday morning caucus meeting. But he was open to the idea of finding a so-called unity candidate: “If they want to pursue that, they know where to find us.”

“I don’t see Kevin McCarthy being a unity candidate,” agreed Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I do think that if there is any potential of a coalition candidate or, you know, Democrats bailing out Republicans, I think that would have to result in a much deeper and a much more profound negotiation of the structure of the House.” She offered some concessions that Republicans could make to earn Democratic votes on a speaker candidate: Granting committee chairmanships, for example, or agreeing to raise the debt limit, or a combination of multiple sweeteners. “I don’t think that would happen in a couple of hours,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.

Representative Rosa DeLauro also indicated that this was a Republican problem. “I think they have to sort it out,” DeLauro told me, adding that she didn’t think it was “likely” Democrats would take action to help McCarthy. “You don’t come to the floor of the House without the votes to be able to win.”

While Democrats may be popping the proverbial popcorn as this spectacle unfolds for their enjoyment, Kildee stopped short of saying that the new minority was having a good time. “The fact that Republicans are putting their dysfunction on full display has a lot of value. But if I wanted to have fun I’d think of some other things to do,” Kildee said with a laugh.

George Santos Caught Lying About Voting on Something He Wasn’t in Congress For?

The congressman-elect’s personal House website claimed he voted “nay” on the omnibus bill, which happened before Santos was in office.

Representative George Santos leans over a railing in the House chamber and looks directly at the camera
Win McNamee/Getty Images

George Santos just had his first day in Washington yesterday. Repeat—yesterday. But as of Wednesday, one day after his first day, Santos’s website claimed he voted “nay” on the House omnibus bill, a vote that took place on December 23, 2022.

It’s not impossible for there to be clerical errors while keeping track of members’ votes. However, that is slightly less likely when the error is published on the particular website of a specific member of Congress. It is unclear why a newly elected member of Congress would choose to do this. Then again, you could say the same with regard to most of the brazen lies Santos has already told.

The bold-faced lie comes after Santos also posted a press release Tuesday evening announcing his swearing in to Congress—something that actually hadn’t happened given that the House has yet to select a speaker.

The misannouncement could readily be chalked to an accidental posting or staffer mistake. Actively marking down a vote that simply never happened is also erroneous, but much less likely to be an honest mistake. But after all, if you’re looking for honesty, Santos is not the first place you might go.

This post has been updated.

McCarthy Defectors Call Jim Jordan the “George Washington” of Our Generation

In an attempt to block Kevin McCarthy from becoming House speaker, Republicans are now comparing Jim Jordan—who doesn’t want the job—to George Washington.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While far-right Republicans continue to block Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the speaker of the House, they have rallied behind one man as their preferred alternative: Jim Jordan, or as Representatives Lauren Boebert and Scott Perry say, the George Washington of our generation.

“Our candidate is Jim Jordan,” Boebert said Tuesday on Fox. “He may not want it right now, but George Washington did not want to be president. He did what was right for his country.”

Perry echoed the same point a day later on Fox Business.

Representative Matt Gaetz has helped lead the House Republican defectors’ charge to keep the gavel out of McCarthy’s hands and to instead put it in Jordan’s hands. Meanwhile, Jordan purports not to want the job, having even endorsed McCarthy himself. As a result, Gaetz and company cite Jordan’s hesitancy as proof of why Jordan would be a good leader. Just as Washington didn’t really want to be president and did anyhow, the thinking goes, so this moment calls for Jordan to rise to the occasion.

Perry’s comments comparing Jordan to the first president of the United States notably came the same morning that twice-impeached former president and target of numerous investigations Donald Trump announced his full-throated support for McCarthy.

“Sad!” Gaetz told Fox News after Trump’s endorsement. “This changes neither my view of McCarthy nor Trump nor my vote.”

“Supporting McCarthy is the worst Human Resources decision President Trump has ever made,” Gaetz tweeted.

Not for nothing, John Trumbull’s painting General George Washington Resigning His Commission is on display just down the hall from congressional hijinks, in the Capitol Rotunda. The painting depicts the moment when Washington resigned from his position as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, signifying his—and America’s—step away from militant autocracy and toward some semblance of a republic. “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world,” King George III is thought to have said upon learning of Washington’s resignation.

That is the kind of virtue Boebert and company are now trying to ascribe to Jordan.

Matt Gaetz Is More Outraged Over McCarthy in the Speaker’s Office Than He Was Over Rioters in the Capitol

Gaetz wants Kevin McCarthy to stop occupying the House speaker’s office. He didn’t care this much about the rioters occupying the Capitol on January 6.

Rep. Matt Gaetz
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Matt Gaetz is livid that Kevin McCarthy has “occupied” the speaker of the House office—and he’s making a bigger deal about it than he did when rioters actually occupied the Capitol.

McCarthy has made no secret of his desire to be speaker, and he clearly thought he had the role on lock, going so far as to move his things into the speaker’s office Tuesday morning. But after three consecutive votes, not only did he lose every time, but he also lost votes as the session dragged on.

Gaetz, who has been staunchly opposed to a McCarthy speakership, demanded to know Tuesday night why McCarthy was still in the speaker’s office considering he had not yet won the gavel.

He was joined by Andy Biggs, who not only voted against McCarthy every time but also ran as a long-shot challenger in the first round.

Gaetz’s outrage seems particularly ironic when compared to his reaction the last time the Capitol was occupied: on January 6, 2021, when it was overrun by supporters of former President Donald Trump trying to stop Joe Biden’s election win from being certified.

Gaetz had already been involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. A loyal Trump toady, he has repeatedly downplayed the January 6 riot, including insisting that the FBI was involved in the attack.

On the one-year anniversary of the insurrection, Gaetz referred to the rioters as “patriotic Americans … who had no intent of breaking the law and doing violence.”

“We’re ashamed of nothing,” he said on a podcast hosted by former Trump adviser and extremist Steve Bannon.

Gaetz’s animosity toward McCarthy actually stems in part from the latter’s response to January 6. McCarthy considered Gaetz to be one of the chief offenders during the riot, The New York Times reported.

McCarthy said Gaetz was acting recklessly, such as by attacking Republican leaders who opposed Trump on television. McCarthy’s number two, Republican Whip Steve Scalise, accused Gaetz of “potentially illegal” behavior.

At the time, Gaetz slammed both McCarthy and Scalise as “weak men.” And now he’s one of the main obstacles to McCarthy becoming speaker.