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The Republican-controlled House will try again to elect a speaker


What do voters think of a long-running fight over who serves as House speaker?


The House adjourned last night after an 11th round of balloting failed to produce a winner. Republicans hold the majority, but a small faction will not go along with their choice of Kevin McCarthy as speaker. This is now the most drawn-out speaker's race since before the Civil War, and as it unfolded, NPR member station reporters talked with some of the lawmakers' constituents, including Republican Robert Stepp of Colorado, whose representative is one of the holdouts, Lauren Boebert.

ROBERT STEPP: Well, I think it's a bunch of BS myself because they're trying to get a speaker into the House and everything, and nobody's wanting to agree on what, and it's just a bunch of nonsense that's going on.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales is with us. So we heard Robert Stepp of Colorado say it's a bunch of nonsense. Claudia, what are other voters saying?

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: They're expressing dismay over these holdouts. There's 20 who have repeatedly voted against GOP leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to be the next speaker. And as you mentioned, one of those rebels is Lauren Boebert, who won a tight race in her district. And here's what more of her constituents told NPR member station reporter Stina Sieg.

LINDA DITTMAN: Well, I think it's pretty silly.

PETER KEMPENICH: We should be doing part - making every effort to be bipartisan and still work for the people.

MARY ANN WRIGHT: It's just confusion. It's pandemonium. No business is getting done. Other people are suffering because of it.

GRISALES: That's Linda Dittman, Peter Kempenich and Mary Ann Wright, who all live in Boebert's district. And in Arizona, constituents also shared their frustration with station reporter Zac Ziegler over at least one GOP holdout there, Representative Eli Crane.

NATALIA SZYMCZAK: I hope they find someone to speak, and I hope it's not Kevin McCarthy.

EMILIANO DE LA ROSA: It seems almost like it's on a road to implode if they don't change things up soon.

ELSIE GOMEZ: They don't look very strong right now (laughter), to be honest.

GRISALES: That's Natalia Szymczak, Emiliano de la Rosa and Elsie Gomez in Flagstaff, Ariz. And Gomez noted she's a McCarthy supporter, and she just wants Republicans to pick him as speaker and move on.

MARTÍNEZ: So where is McCarthy's fight for speaker now?

GRISALES: Well, even though Republicans did go 11 failed rounds of votes, their negotiations continue today. McCarthy made a new offer to his opponents. And while there's no deal yet, there's more meetings to come this morning. McCarthy said he made another big concession. He lowered the threshold again to allow just one member to call for a vote to oust him if he does become speaker. That's down from five in recent days and dramatically lower than under recent speakers. Last night, McCarthy told reporters he's not putting a timeline on when they could reach a deal.


KEVIN MCCARTHY: I just think we've got some progress going on. We've got members talking. I think we've got a little movement. So we'll see.

GRISALES: McCarthy has also made new concessions to get more of these rebels on key committees. But we should note, these concessions would significantly weaken him if he does become speaker.

MARTÍNEZ: But are they enough to break the stalemate?

GRISALES: That remains to be seen. Some holdouts, like South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman, left a closed-door meeting saying, this is, quote, "round one," but he also called it a good thing. Nebraska Representative Don Bacon, a McCarthy supporter, says they're halfway there to locking in votes from the 20 holdouts. But that all said, McCarthy can only lose four of his members to get the speaker's gavel, and it's still not clear, even on day four, he'll get there.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thanks a lot.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.