BREAKING: McCarthy loses 4th ballot — and may cut a deal with Dems

Source: Hot Air

Give Kevin McCarthy this much credit. At least he tried to appeal to MAGA world through Donald Trump in order to close the deal on his bid for House Speaker. That ended up having no impact at all on the fourth ballot. After Republican dissidents nominated Byron Donalds for speaker as an alternative, the fourth ballot turned out almost identical to the third — with Victoria Spartz the only one to change, from McCarthy to “present”:

That’s not going in a good direction for McCarthy. Nor did it go in a good direction for Trump, whose robust endorsement of McCarthy didn’t move a single member of the balking Freedom Caucus members into McCarthy’s column. Trump put his political weight on the line this morning, and he came up empty, even with his “drain the swamp” allies.

The only other option for McCarthy, other than to step down, is to find another way to the majority. It appears he has one in mind — a strategy I’ve suggested before:

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has begun talks with Democrats about a deal to support a “consensus candidate” for Speaker or hold out from voting to ensure he needs to reach a lower threshold to lead the chamber, according to Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.)

Bacon told CNN on Wednesday morning that McCarthy was in “preliminary talks” with lawmakers to reach a deal, but said he wanted to hold back on the details of the conversations to not get ahead of the negotiations.

The mechanics of this would be simple. Hakeem Jeffries could direct a significant number of his caucus to not show up for a quorum call. If he got 60 Democrats to sit it out, that would lower the House majority from 218 to around 190. McCarthy should be able to easily win that many votes and become Speaker.

The question is: what would McCarthy have to trade for such a boost? Jeffries wouldn’t rescue McCarthy out of the goodness of his heart. His caucus has already made clear their happiness at watching him squirm for a while, but they probably are growing tired of these votes, too. They can’t do anything either until the Speaker election concludes, so this is a frustrating waste of their time.

Jeffries may not need much convincing anyway. If he gets McCarthy across the line without the House Republicans figuring out a settlement, McCarthy will spend the next two years fighting his own caucus rather than Democrats. The only concession Jeffries might demand is that McCarthy make no changes to Pelosi’s version of the motion to vacate the chair (MTV), in order to make sure McCarthy remains well and truly stuck with this civil war in the caucus. It would be a legendary power play for Jeffries, making McCarthy hostage to both the rebels and the Democrats, who could at some time help the rebels out by cooperating with an MTV to start this fight all over again.

McCarthy might not want the job under those circumstances, but that’s another issue for Jeffries, too. If Scalise decides to step into the role, he might unite the Republican conference. If someone else steps up, the likelihood of that settling the issue is almost nil. Either way, the outcome is less beneficial to Jeffries.

Republicans will scream bloody murder if McCarthy pulls this off, of course, and for good reason. But if this leads the House out of the box canyon into which it’s marched, it might only sting for a while, especially if McCarthy can later heal the breach with the Freedom Caucus.