The former president was nominated for House speaker twice on Thursday. He failed to garner a majority of votes on both ballots.
Former President Donald Trump was nominated for House speaker on Thursday but lost badly, failing to secure the hundreds of votes needed to take the gavel.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) nominated Trump on the seventh and eighth ballots of voting, in a protest against Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the top House Republican who is facing a conservative revolt over his bid for speaker. Gaetz was the only lawmaker who cast his vote for Trump.
“This ends one of two ways: Either Kevin McCarthy withdraws from the race, or we construct a straitjacket that he is unable to evade,” Gaetz told reporters afterward.
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution says the speaker has to be a sitting member of the House. But a non-member becoming speaker is considered extremely unlikely, and Gaetz’s vote was viewed as little more than a stunt.
Trump has urged GOP lawmakers to support McCarthy, phoning individual members who are resistant to his leadership.
“Republicans, do not turn a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat. It’s time to celebrate, you deserve it. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, maybe even a great job — just watch!” Trump wrote Wednesday on his social media platform Truth Social.
The anti-McCarthy faction ― which includes up to 20 GOP lawmakers ― hasn’t followed his advice. They also haven’t been swayed by several key concessions McCarthy reportedly made to House procedure.
“The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a staunch supporter of Trump, said in a floor speech Wednesday.
Trump isn’t the first ex-president to receive votes in a speaker election. John Quincy Adams received two votes in the 1835 speaker’s election, though he served as a representative in the House at the time.
Trump is, however, the first president who tried to overturn the results of a presidential election he lost, and thus the first president who did so and then got nominated for a top U.S. government position.
The House hasn’t needed more than one ballot to elect a speaker since December 1923. That election ended after nine ballots ― and this week’s fiasco in the House is likely to beat that record. In 1855, the process took 133 ballots and two months to sort out.