After House Clerk Cheryl Johnson declared that a quorum is present, she delivered a brief reminder to members-elect that because the House has not yet organized, the clerk has the responsibility to “preserve order and decorum” in the chamber.
Johnson told members-elect that their remarks must be addressed through the chair and not to their colleagues and asked them to refrain from “engaging in personalities toward other members-elect.”
“The chair appreciates the cooperation of members-elect in respecting and upholding order and decorum in the House,” she said.
Rep.-elect John James, a Michigan Republican, then rose to deliver remarks nominating McCarthy, saying there is “far more that unites us than divides us, regardless of our political party and ideology.”
“I’ve heard a lot of D.C. politicians tell me how broken D.C. is,” he said. “I don’t need D.C. politicians to tell me how broken D.C. is. The American people have already told us how broken D.C. is by giving Republicans the majority so we can fix this mess.”
James highlighted the Republican agenda for the 118th Congress but said the GOP’s inability to coalesce around a speaker candidate has halted any progress on their legislative priorities.
“We’re still stuck at the starting block,” he said. “The American people have told us by putting a Republican majority here that they want Republicans to lead and they want a government that works and doesn’t embarrass them, and we are failing on both missions. That must change today.”
James said he has “hope” Republicans can unify and stressed that McCarthy has earned his trust.
“You don’t fire a guy who is winning,” he said. James concluded his remarks to applause from McCarthy’s supporters.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, chair of the Democratic caucus, then nominated Jeffries for speaker, as he did before each of the three votes Wednesday.
“There is no victory in adjourning without doing the business of the people,” Aguilar said at the start of his remarks, a knock at Republicans who claimed a small win Wednesday with a vote to adjourn for the day. “House Democrats are united behind a champion of expanding and protecting the right to vote.”
The California Democrat praised Jeffries for his efforts to protect the right to vote, and said the House needs a leader who “believes in strengthening democracy, who understands that to cast a vote is a sacred responsibility that should be afforded to the many.”
Democrats also offered applause as Aguilar concluded his remarks nominating Jeffries, after which GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina rose to nominate Florida Rep. Byron Donalds for speaker.
Bishop began his remarks criticizing a tweet from Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, in which she called Donalds a “prop.”
“This is the tired, old, grotesquely racist rhetoric that we’ve seen far too long,” Bishop said.
The North Carolina Republican then highlighted a document from McCarthy outlining his plans for the House under Republican control, which Bishop said included a public acknowledgement that “this institution is broken.”
“So let me help my colleagues in the minority understand: we are doing the people’s business. That’s what these three days have been about. Three days,” he said. “We are committed to make change to this institution that has lost its way.”
Bishop concluded saying the House needs “more Byron Donalds,” after which he was met with more muted applause from the group of Republicans opposing McCarthy’s bid for speaker.