History was made on Wednesday (January 4) when Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla joined Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. as a nominee for House Speaker, marking the first time two Black lawmakers have been up for the chamber’s top position. ‘
The House Freedom Caucus nominated Donalds for House Speaker during Wednesday’s fourth and fifth round of voting after Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed three times on Tuesday (January 3) to secure the votes necessary to be elected (January 3). Incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., was also nominated by the Democrats to become House Speaker.
“Now, here we are. And for the first time in history, there have been two black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas said Wednesday, per Fox News.
This is the first time since 1923 that the House election has gone to a second ballot. Republicans are set to seat 222 lawmakers, which means McCarthy needs 218 votes to garner the House majority and become Speaker, Fox News reports. At the end of Tuesday’s votes, the Republican leader had 20 GOP defectors blocking him from the top House position.
Former President Donald Trump urged the remaining Republicans on Wednesday to vote for McCarthy and avoid an “embarrassing defeat.” President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that the current situation in the House is “embarrassing,” noting that “the rest of the world is looking.”
No other business can be conducted in the House, including officially swearing in members, until the chamber chooses a speaker.