In a standstill of US governance not seen since the time before the Civil War, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, has failed in his most recent attempt to be elected speaker.
On the third day of voting, a group of right-wing members in his party thwarted an eleventh attempt to elect him.
The standoff has prevented the House from swearing in new members or passing legislation since the Republicans took control of the chamber in the midterm elections in November.
The House will not reconvene until Friday.
The lower chamber of Congress has not voted so frequently to elect a speaker since 1860, when the United States union was disintegrating over the issue of slavery. There were 44 rounds of voting back then.
Twenty conservative Republican members are refusing to give Mr. McCarthy the 218 votes he needs.
Despite former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the California congressman, the rebels have doubts about his commitment to conservatism.
Ralph Norman of South Carolina, one of the dissidents, told the BBC that he merely does not trust Mr. McCarthy.
In the weeks leading up to this impasse, the congressman claimed that Mr. McCarthy’s team had threatened them with political reprisal if they did not toe the line.
According to Mr. Norman, “We were going to be kicked off committees.” “We’re going to lose all of our privileges.
And we basically told them, “If we can’t vet out the most powerful person we’re about to put in office, if we can’t ask questions, then we’re out.”
In the meantime, the minority Democrats in the chamber controlled by Republicans continued to vote in unanimity for their leader, New York’s Hakeem Jeffries, who was a political outsider.
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A turbulent day in the US House included raging tempers, frustration, and popcorn.
On Friday, which marks the second anniversary of a riot by Trump supporters at the US Capitol, lawmakers in the bitterly divided chamber will reassemble.
Despite the opposition, Mr. McCarthy, the leading House Republican since 2019, has received the support of over 200 Republicans, or over 90% of his caucus. As their agenda stagnates, they are getting impatient.
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Republican Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania stated, “I’m quite concerned about that because I’m on the intelligence committee.” He continued by saying that until MPs are sworn in, neither he nor the other committee members could receive confidential briefings.
The speaker is not need to be a member of the House, but Florida Republican rebel Matt Gaetz on Thursday cast a protest vote for Mr. Trump to fill the position.
Either Kevin McCarthy drops out of the race, or we create a straitjacket that he is unable to escape, was how he predicted it would end.
Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado suggested an Oklahoma lawmaker, urging her fellow Republicans to look past Mr. McCarthy.
The Republican Party “has to get to a position where we start examining what life looks like after Kevin McCarthy” before concluding, “It is not happening.”
In addition to other concessions, Mr. McCarthy has promised the rebels a seat on the powerful rules committee, which determines the parameters of the legislative debate in the chamber. Additionally, he consented to reduce the requirement to just one House member in order to allow for a vote on whether to remove the speaker.
In the 435-seat chamber, Republicans narrowly defeated Democrats in November by a vote of 222 to 212. The Senate is still run by Democrats.