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New Congress live updates: House GOP drama ahead of speaker vote

(WASHINGTON) — Republicans are facing a leadership drama as they take control of the House Tuesday.

After the 118th Congress convenes at noon, the first order of House business will be the election of a new speaker — and current Republican leader Kevin McCarthy could be stymied by a group of hardliners demanding concessions.

Because the GOP holds only a slim majority, a small number of defections could stop McCarthy from gaining the office he’s long sought.

Here’s how the story is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 03, 10:39 AM EST
McCarthy tells Republicans ‘I earned this job’: Source

In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy made a last-ditch case for speaker.

“I’m not going to go away. I’m going to stand until the last four friends stand with me,” he told the GOP members, according to a source in the room.

“I earned this job,” McCarthy said. “We earned this majority, and goddammit we are going to win it today.”

Jan 03, 10:33 AM EST
Rep.-elect George Santos arrives near House office

Rep.-elect George Santos, who has faced controversy and national attention for lying about or embellishing details of his background, was spotted by reporters in Congress Tuesday morning.

Santos was walking toward his office in the Longworth House Office Building, accompanied by a staffer, when he stopped and turned the other way once he saw reporters.

He declined to answer most questions, but told ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa he will vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker.

Santos faced calls for accountability from some Republicans, but not from current Republican House leadership. He has said he will serve out his term in the House.

New members of the House will not be sworn in until a speaker is elected.

-ABC News’ Hannah Demissie, Lalee Ibssa, and Oren Oppenheim

Jan 03, 10:20 AM EST
McCarthy ready to battle for speaker’s gavel, sources say

As Republicans met behind closed doors ahead of the speaker vote, it appeared Kevin McCarthy still did not have the votes needed to be elected.

Sources close to the Republican leader say he’s ready to battle it out. It could go into multiple rounds of votes — something that hasn’t happened in 100 years — and the floor fight could drag on for hours, if not days. The longest battle for speaker was in 1856, and it took two months and 133 votes to resolve.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, who opposes McCarthy’s bid, has warned, “We may see the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C. before a speaker is elected.”

All of this overshadows the start of the new Congress where Republicans have a majority in the House for the first time since 2018.

-ABC News’ Rachel Scott

Jan 03, 9:43 AM EST
McCarthy arrives for GOP meeting: ‘We are going to have a good day’

Rep. McCarthy has arrived for a closed-door meeting with his fellow Republicans.

“We are going to have a good day today,” McCarthy said as he walked by reporters, who asked if he had the votes for speaker.

The California congressman then laughed as a reporter asked if he’d support Rep. Steve Scalise for speaker should he fail to get enough votes.

Jan 03, 9:42 AM EST
‘Follow Kevin McCarthy’ sign posted outside speaker’s office

Hours before the vote to elect a new House speaker, a sign has appeared in front of the speaker’s office with the message: “Follow Kevin McCarthy.”

McCarthy was set to shore up more support for his speaker bid in a closed-door meeting with the Republican caucus this morning. He faces opposition from a group of hard-line conservatives, who could sink what is his second attempt to hold the gavel.

The California congressman’s belongings have been brought into the speaker’s suite, but if he doesn’t get enough votes, he’ll have to move out.

Jan 03, 8:52 AM EST
GOP conference to hold last-minute meeting before speaker vote

The House Republican conference will meet behind closed doors at 9:30 a.m., just hours before the speaker vote begins at noon.

While McCarthy might be able to garner more support in a last-ditch appeal, his detractors have boasted that they’ll be able to muster the necessary opposition to block his bid.

Rep. Scott Perry, the chair of the House Freedom Caucus who is leading the group of hard-line conservatives opposing McCarthy’s bid, released a new statement Tuesday morning blasting the California congressman.

“In his 14 years in Republican Leadership, McCarthy has repeatedly failed to demonstrate any desire to meaningfully change the status quo in Washington,” Perry said.

Jan 03, 8:36 AM EST
McCarthy’s rise from California politics to GOP leader

Kevin McCarthy began his career as a staffer to then-Rep. Bill Thomas before chairing the California Young Republicans and later the Young Republican National Federation.

He was first elected to office in 2002, serving in the California state Assembly until 2007, when was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, he was dubbed one of the “young guns” of the next generation of conservative leadership.

McCarthy tried to become speaker in 2015 but his chance evaporated after resistance from the same kind of conservatives who are trying to block his path Tuesday. When Democrats took control of the House in 2018, McCarthy was elected House minority leader.

Jan 03, 8:26 AM EST
McCarthy’s bid for speaker unclear as new Congress set to begin

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the next speaker of the House is still clouded in uncertainty as lawmakers head to Capitol Hill for the first day of the 118th Congress.

McCarthy and his staffers spent the day Monday setting up the speaker’s office but he may have to move his belongings out if he fails to clinch the votes needed to secure the position.

A few dozen members piled into McCarthy’s office throughout the day Monday to go over last-minute strategy. ABC News spotted three McCarthy critics during the afternoon meeting: Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and Scott Perry.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a McCarthy supporter, told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, “the problem is the people need to realize the art of the deal. They are all Trump supporters, and you can’t be successful if you’re not willing to take the wins when you get them” when asked about those in her party who are trying to tank McCarthy’s bid.

Rep. Jim Jordan, whose name has been floated around as a potential speaker candidate, said he believes McCarthy “can get there.”

McCarthy, however, didn’t directly answer reporter’s questions about how the vote could go, telling them, “I hope you all have a very nice New Year’s” as he exited the Capitol on Monday night.

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