WASHINGTON — Republicans began their second day in control of the House on Wednesday without a leader and deadlocked about how to move forward, after Representative Kevin McCarthy of California lost three votes for the top job amid a hard-right rebellion that has prompted a historic struggle on the House floor.
Mr. McCarthy’s successive defeats on Tuesday marked the first time in a century that the House has failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote, and it was not clear how or when the stalemate would be resolved. After adjourning with no leader, the House was set to reconvene at noon on Wednesday to try to resolve the impasse.
A mutiny waged by ultraconservative lawmakers who for weeks have held fast to their vow to oppose Mr. McCarthy paralyzed the chamber on the first day of Republican rule, delaying the swearing in of hundreds of members of Congress, putting off any legislative work and exposing deep divisions that threatened to make the party’s House majority ungovernable.
Mr. McCarthy has vowed not to back down until he secures the post, raising the prospect of a grueling stretch of votes that could go on for days.
“I’m staying until we win,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters between the second and third votes on Tuesday. “I know the path.”
House precedent dictates that members continue to vote until someone secures the majority needed to prevail. But until Tuesday, the House had not failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote since 1923, when the election stretched for nine ballots.
It was not clear how long it might take for Republicans to resolve their stalemate this time, or what Mr. McCarthy’s strategy, if any, was for coming back from an embarrassing series of defeats. He worked into the night on Tuesday, surrounded by allies, to try to secure votes.
No viable challenger has emerged, but if Mr. McCarthy continues to flounder, Republicans could shift their votes to an alternative, such as his No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
On Tuesday, right-wing Republicans coalesced behind Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, as an alternative to Mr. McCarthy, but Mr. Jordan, a onetime rival who has since allied himself with Mr. McCarthy, pleaded with his colleagues to unite instead behind the California Republican.
But the party has so far refused to do so. The failed votes on Tuesday showed publicly the extent of the opposition Mr. McCarthy faces. With all members of the House present and voting, Mr. McCarthy needs to receive 218 votes to become speaker, leaving little room for Republican defections since the party controls only 222 seats.
He fell short again and again, drawing no more than 203 votes — far below a majority and fewer than the votes received by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader whose caucus remained united behind him.