Fresh off his 7 a.m. shoulder surgery, Rep. David Trone (D-MD) returned to the Capitol for the speakership vote, donning slippers and a sling to up the threshold for Republicans.
During the 12th round of voting in the afternoon, Trone’s absence meant that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) only needed 216 votes to attain a majority. He came up three votes shy.
Trone’s surgery had been planned months in advance under the assumption that the gavel groveling would’ve been short-lived.
MCCARTHY GAINS ANOTHER VOTE FOR HOUSE SPEAKER ON 13TH BALLOT
“Naturally, we assumed we were in the clear months ago when we scheduled this surgery for today, which the Majority Leader had previously designated a non-voting day. We are in close coordination with Democratic leadership,” Trone’s office said in a statement explaining his absence.
Trone drew applause when he returned for the 13th round of voting around 2 p.m. local time to throw his weight behind Minority Leader-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for the speaker’s gavel. Trone’s absence was a rare time in the speakership voting marathon that saw Jeffries’s vote margin ticked down.
Trone’s office did not disclose the precise reason for his surgery in a statement about his absence but noted it was unrelated to his previous battle with cancer. He had been diagnosed with cancer during his 2018 campaign and later had his kidney removed before becoming cancer-free.
Trone took to Twitter to showcase his shoulder sling, slippers, and hospital socks, highlighting his commitment to Jeffries.
Trone was joined in absence by Rep.-elects Ken Buck (R-CO) and Wesley Hunt (R-TX) — the latter of whom was away for his son’s premature birth.
Hunt and Buck are reportedly expected to return to the Capitol later Friday, which could help McCarthy boost his margins.
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McCarthy managed to peel off 14 of the 20 Republican defectors via backdoor dealings during the 13th round, bringing his vote count to 213-211 with three absences. Six Republican dissidents continue to block McCarthy while he can only afford to lose four.
The speakership skirmish marks the first time since 1923 that a speaker was not selected in the first round. McCarthy has already moved into the speaker’s office but has been mired in the gavel power struggle on the House floor since Tuesday.