Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The US House adjourns in chaos without appointing a speaker

Chaos as US House adjourns without choosing speaker

 WASHINGTON: In a series of humiliating votes seen as a rebuke to the party establishment, renegade right-wing Republicans prevented the popular Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker of the House of Representatives, throwing the new US Congress into chaos on Tuesday.

To be elected as Washington's top legislator, the California congressman is second in line to the presidency and oversees House business.

Despite widespread coverage across US television networks, Republicans failed to elect a speaker for the first time in a century in the first three rounds of voting.

The party won't be able to celebrate their new control of the House because they will have to fight for a speaker for a long time, which could deepen internal divisions and put McCarthy's political career in jeopardy.

After last year's midterm elections, the 57-year-old needed 218 votes in the lower chamber, which flipped to a Republican majority of 222-212.

However, he was shocked to receive 19 "no" votes from his own side in each of the first two rounds, rising to 20 in the third, and he was unable to bring the party rebels, which included several prominent allies of the former president Donald Trump, into line.

Even though there is little doubt that a Republican will ultimately claim the speaker's gavel, his performance was so poor that he lost to Democratic minority leader Hakeem Jeffries in each of the first three votes.

After withdrawing from the race in 2015 due to a number of errors and a right-wing revolt, McCarthy has long desired the role.

Once more this time he was stumbled by a wide margin right dissidents, regardless of bowing to their calls to push forceful examinations of leftists including President Joe Biden in the wake of assuming control over the House.

With Republicans steadily gaining momentum, lawmakers agreed to adjourn until Wednesday to regroup, heal, and devise a plan to transform a catastrophic defeat into an unlikely victory.

"Actually Rep. Kevin McCarthy doesn't have the votes," Florida's Byron Donalds said in a proclamation in front of the deferment, encouraging individual individuals from the party meeting to "break and group" looking for a forward leap.

A century ago, in 1923, the selection of a speaker for a new Congress required more than one round of voting. Over the course of two months in 1855, 133 votes were cast in one speaker selection process.

McCarthy had initially planned to keep members in the room and vote until he had managed to coax his rivals into submission. He had been trying to keep small cliques from leaving the floor to hold their own negotiations.

According to reports from US media, lawmakers and staff members who were in favor of McCarthy had begun the day by stating that he should withdraw if he was unable to secure the gavel in the second round.

It is not out of the question that a new candidate who has not been a part of the process could come to the forefront; the House is expected to hold additional ballots beginning at noon (1700 GMT) on Wednesday until someone emerges with a majority.

The perception that some on the extreme right of his party think that McCarthy is not sufficiently loyal to Trump, who is running for the presidency once more after losing to Biden in 2020, was one obstacle in the way of McCarthy's elevation.

By the time the meeting was adjourned, no serious Republican challenger to McCarthy had emerged, though Steve Scalise, the new House majority leader, is a McCarthyite who has made it clear that he has his own goals.

The "Never Kevin" swarm are probably going to consider Scalise to be business as usual, be that as it may.

Hardliner investigations of Biden's family, administration, and the FBI and CIA have already been promised by McCarthy, who defied a subpoena from the House panel investigating the 2021 assault on the Capitol.

However, the more he is perceived as bowing to the right, the more likely it is that he will alienate moderates, igniting an open conflict between Senate and House Republicans, where there is already little love lost.

For the Republicans in Congress, things weren't all bad.

Tuesday marked the start of a new term in the Senate, and Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell broke the record for the longest-serving Senate leader.

After the House was adjourned on Tuesday evening, Trump wrote on Truth Social, "There is so much unnecessary turmoil in the Republican party." He specifically blamed McConnell for the divisions, but he did not mention McCarthy or the chaos in the House.

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