The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Conservatives lay out demands as Speaker vote freezes Congress


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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.* 

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.


Sooo, uh, maybe seventh time’s a charm … ? 

Kevin McCarthy sure hopes so:

Well, the House is back in session again on Thursday for the third day of votes to determine the House Speaker. *Cue the ‘Jeopardy!’ theme song* 

Live C-SPAN video of the House floor: The people watching has been fascinating.

Where we stand: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) has lost six (!) Speakership votes so far, and House members are moving toward a seventh round of voting. 

So, now what?: On Wednesday, McCarthy met with some of the 20 Republicans who oppose his bid to negotiate a deal.

What type of concessions were discussed?:  

  • “[L]owering the threshold for a motion to vacate the chair — a move to force a vote on ousting the Speaker — to one member.” 
  • “Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said Wednesday evening that negotiations also included measures related to spending.” 
  • “[I]ncreasing representation of hardline conservative members on the powerful House Rules Committee  
  • “[B]ringing a vote on a bill imposing term limits on members of Congress.”  

^ Plus: “The developments in negotiations come in addition to a McCarthy-aligned PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, committing to not spend in safe GOP open-seat primaries.”  

OK, that seems like a lot of concessions. Does that mean McCarthy has enough votes to be voted as Speaker?: Not necessarily. So far, none of the 20 holdouts have publicly said they will change their mind.  

More on the concessions, via The Hill’s Emily Brooks 

Who are the holdouts?: The Hill’s Mychael Schnell lists and breaks down the list of 20 Republicans who oppose McCarthy’s Speakership. For example, nearly all the holdouts are Trump supporters and five are new members. The breakdown of the 20 GOP holdouts 


From The New York Times’s Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein 


“Just before noon Wednesday, a Democrat from Washington state climbed the stairs to the House side of the Capitol building — a building that definitely exists. But if the House of Representatives has no members who have taken the oath of office, does it exist?” 

“‘I know our capacity to do basic legislation doesn’t really exist,’ said Rep.-elect Derek Kilmer [D], continuing up the stairs, then turning around to ask a reporter: ‘Do you exist?’”  

The full read on the “existential uncertainty” in the Housevia The Washington Post’s Dan Zak and Ben Terris

It’s Thursday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.


Well, ~technically~ Jeffries had the most votes, but I take his point: CNN’s Manu Raju asked McCarthy on Wednesday about the failed votes. “ ‘It doesn’t matter — I still have the most votes,’ McCarthy just told me when asked what happens if he loses more votes on the fourth ballot.” Watch the clip — and the swarm of cameras 

^ What I mean about Jeffries: Democrats have been unified in their support for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). In the sixth vote, Jeffries received 212 votes, while McCarthy received 201 votes. For context: 218 votes are needed to elect a Speaker. 

Oh wow, this would have been eventful: The Washington Post’s Liz Goodwin pointed out, “Just remembering when Kevin McCarthy told Senate Republicans last month he was capable of funding the government in January so they should hold off on the omnibus.”  

This tweet has gotten a lot of traction: Jezebel’s Caitlin Cruz suggested, “mic up random congress people like it’s a nba game.”  

This was a pretty tense moment: Fox News host Sean Hannity repeatedly questioned Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on the opposition to McCarthy as Speaker. Hannity’s repeated question: “Isn’t it time for you and your side to pack it in considering he [McCarthy] has over 200 [votes] and you have 20?” Watch the clip 

What does former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) think about all of this?: “None of us has seen anything like this disrespect for the institution in a most cavalier, frivolous way. It’s quite sad,” ABC News’s Lalee Ibssa tweetedWatch Pelosi’s full response


Oh my gosh!: During an interview on Fox News, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) was shoved out of his live shot as a crowd following McCarthy passed by. Watch 

The gist of where the Speaker vote stands: “speaker_vote_v6_FINAL_new2,” Brown University’s Peter Hull tweeted

Lol: @JamesPerryAdams tweeted, “my 7am Lyft ride to the Capitol is blasting a full replay of last night’s sixth Speaker vote — name by name. you truly cannot escape.”  

I didn’t know this quote before today: CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted a clip of Jack Nicholson in ”Mars Attacks!” The quote: “I want the people to know that they still have two out of three branches of the government working for them, and that ain’t bad.” Watch the 12-second clip 

💸 In Congress 

If we’ve learned anything about this Speaker battle, it is to be nervous about the debt ceiling crisis. Be veryyyyy nervous.:

“Conservative rebels in the House are demanding that the next Speaker, whether it’s Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or someone else, make a stand against passing a clean debt limit increase, which would set up a major fight with Senate Democrats and President Biden.” 

Yes, but: “Senate Republicans … warn that debt ceiling legislation with spending caps isn’t going to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, setting up the two chambers for a stalemate that could put the nation’s credit rating at risk or the federal government on the verge of default.” 

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton explains the ~fun~ that may come from this brewing dynamic 


Analysis of what to expect in this new Congress, via The Washington Post’s Dan Balz 

Tidbit — Capitol Hill tour guides won’t mention Jan. 6 unless they are asked:

The Washington Post’s Joe Heim reports that “unless visitors ask, they probably won’t hear a word from the red-coat-wearing guides about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by supporters of former president Donald Trump who were seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win.”

Plus: “The attack is not mentioned in the Capitol Visitor Center’s newly renovated exhibition hall … Nor is it discussed in the seven-minute introductory film that visitors watch before the tour commences.”  

What we know

🏃‍♂️ 2024 

A Senate Democrat is planning to retire

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, announced this morning that she will not run for reelection in 2024.

Why this is giving Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) a headache: “Democrats have to defend 23 Senate seats in the next election — including those held by Independent Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine). Schumer also faces potential retirements in two red-leaning states, Montana and West Virginia, where centrist Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are mulling whether to run for reelection.” 

What this could mean for Dems, via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton

🦠 The COVID-19 numbers

Cases to date: 100.6 million 

Death toll: 1,088,481 

Current hospitalizations: 38,445 

Shots administered: 663 million 

Fully vaccinated: 69 percent of Americans 

CDC data here.

🐥Notable tweets


@_natemorris tweeted a C-SPAN clip of the ceremonial swearing-in of senators. “While we were all busy watching Kevin McCarthy fall apart, we missed VP Kamala Harris doing an impression of Sen. Bennet’s deep voice during his swearing in and it’s hilarious.” Watch Harris’s impression of Bennet 

^ And if you want to see the full clip, here’s the C-SPAN video. Start around the 9-minute 30-second mark.

On tap 

The House is in. The Senate is out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.

  • 9 a.m.: Biden received his daily briefing. 
  • 3 p.m.: Biden holds a Cabinet meeting. 

All times Eastern.

📺What to watch

  • 11:15 a.m.: Biden delivered remarks on border security and enforcement. Harris attended. Watch 

🍦 In lighter news 

Today is National Whipped Cream Day

OK, but what about a festive cup…? We love a festive cup

Starbucks has launched its winter menu. 

Including: The Pistachio Latte, the Red Velvet Loaf and the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew 

Details from NBC Chicago 

And to leave you smiling, here’s a baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo practicing his flips.