WASHINGTON — Through six votes, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has not been able to secure the votes needed to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and now a prominent Colorado Republican could be jumping ship.
Rep. Ken Buck, who represents Colorado's 4th District, voted for McCarthy through the first six ballots Tuesday and Wednesday, but after the fifth vote, he told CNN that McCarthy needs to make a deal or step aside.
"I've had a number of conversations with Kevin, and I basically told him at some point this needs to break loose," Buck said in the interview. "He either needs to make a deal to bring the 19 or 20 over, or he needs to step aside to give somebody the chance to do that.
"I don't know what that timeframe is, but it makes sense that at some point today we're able to move forward in a way that we elect a speaker," Buck continued.
>Watch the full interview below:
He said part of the problem is that Democrats and the group of 20 "rebel" Republicans who refuse to back McCarthy will not agree to a motion to adjourn so Republicans can meet and reach a consensus. About three hours after Buck's interview, the House adjourned until Wednesday night.
"We're just going to keep going through this exercise on the floor," Buck said. "The smart thing to do is to get together, have a conversation, choose somebody and let's move forward."
Buck suggested Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is "next in line" if progress can't be made on McCarthy's bid to lead the House.
He said Republicans need to get back to the basics and determine what it is that representatives who are holding out want in order to reach the votes necessary to elect a speaker.
"I think you need to break the 20 down," Buck said. "There are a few who wouldn't vote for Kevin McCarthy but would vote for somebody else. There are some others who want changes in the rules and others who care about policy, and so I think if Steve meets those three needs, he will be able to move forward and take the speakership."
Buck said he's concerned about infighting in the Republican Party and is worried moderate members could work with Democrats on a House speaker candidate.
"The 20 are saying they're not moving no matter what," Buck said. "At some point, people have to realize that we got to choose a speaker and move forward. The American people sent us here to get the work done."
Buck ended the interview by saying he would vote for McCarthy on the sixth ballot, which he later did.
"Stay tuned, and I'll let you know what I'm going to be doing in the future," he added.
The House of Representatives adjourned until 6 p.m. Wednesday after the sixth vote as Republicans try to solve the impasse.
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