Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday pressed Republican Florida Rep. Bryon Donalds about his party failing to unite behind Speaker-designate Kevin McCarthy.
Twenty Republicans barred McCarthy from reaching the minimum 218 votes needed to become Speaker of the House during Tuesday’s third ballot on the House floor. Donalds initially voted for the Speaker-designate on the first and second ballots, but then flipped his support over to Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
“What did you think would happen when you decided to go with Jim Jordan?” Kilmeade asked the representative.
“At that point [after the second ballot], we were basically deadlocked and it was pretty clear that he [McCarthy] didn’t have the votes,” Donalds said. “So my thought says, ‘Okay, if he doesn’t have the votes, what are we going to do as a conference to either find someone who can get to 218, or at a minimum adjourn what we were doing [and] get off the floor, so the needed negotiations can happen.'”
Donalds argued Congress has stuck with the status quo for too long in terms of how the next wave of leadership is elected, and that the Republican conference requires change. He said the House will resolve the members’ differences and elect a speaker. (RELATED: Rep. Byron Donalds Says ‘Very Little’ Ground Made Among GOP In Speaker Contest)
Prior to the vote, McCarthy made concessions to earn the support of the five Republicans publicly opposed to him obtaining the gavel. In one such change, the Speaker-designate agreed to make it easier for rank-and-file members to cast a vote-of-no-confidence against the sitting speaker, which can result in the speaker’s removal.
House Republicans also demanded McCarthy agree to creating a Select Committee to investigate the FBI and to putting Freedom Caucus members in committee positions, but McCarthy did not comply with either request.
“These are all things that you guys could have hammered out behind closed doors because your objective is the same way: because you want to get the same results. These seem like small things,” Kilmeade commented.
“I think what you’re talking about as ‘small’ are actually things that are critical for the House moving forward,” the Florida representative argued. “We know we have an issue with elements of the FBI, that’s not a shock to anybody, we know that. Number two, with respect to the motion to vacate: the motion to vacate [the] role, whether it’s been 100 years, 200 years, is something that many speakers have lived under.”
Donalds argued McCarthy attempted to create a five-vote measure which would require five members of Congress to vote him out of his position. Kilmeade appeared to defend McCarthy with the argument that no one will want to be speaker if one member can vote the individual out.
“Would you want to be … speaker, knowing that one person could vote you out?” Kilmeade asked.
“If you’re trying to have the job and you’re going to lead, you shouldn’t be afraid of one person. And I’ve been very clear about this, I think too much has been made about the motion to vacate, that was a rule here for 100 years or more about one member being able to file it,” he said.
The representative told Kilmeade his vote Wednesday will depend on the changes his party and McCarthy can agree upon. He emphasized McCarthy still has a “pathway” to become speaker.