Republican leader Kevin McCarthy remains defiant in his bid to become Speaker of the House of Representatives as lawmakers prepare for further votes.
Washington, D.C. – US President Joe Biden has called on Republicans to “get their act together” and elect a speaker for the House of Representatives after the GOP majority failed to agree on a new leader to preside over the room.
The country has virtually no functioning House for the first time in nearly 100 years after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican at the top of the House, failed to win a majority to become speaker in three different rounds of voting.
‘It doesn’t look good. It’s not a good thing. It’s the United States of America, and I hope they get their act together,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.
The US president also stressed that the crisis is a Republican issue. “That’s not my problem. I just find it embarrassing that it’s taking so long.”
The previous Chamber was fired on Tuesday. New members elected in the November midterm elections was convened to elect a new speaker, an effort that ended when 20 members of the Republican caucus voted against McCarthy on Tuesday’s final ballot.
Without a speaker to preside over it, the House is effectively paralyzed and new lawmakers cannot be sworn in; they still hold the title of elected representative.
Amid Republican infighting, Democrats united unanimously behind their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, on Tuesday.
Lawmakers will meet again on Wednesday to try to pick a speaker, but it remains unclear whether Republicans, who have a slim majority in the chamber, have agreed on a leader.
The House and Senate together form Congress, the legislative arm of the US, which passes laws and allocates funds to the federal government, among other essential functions.
Many Democrats argued after Tuesday’s vote that the early crisis for the new parliamentary majority shows the Republicans’ inability to lead.
“The problem is… this isn’t just today. This is becoming every day in the House Republican majority,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
It’s not just that they can’t rule. It’s that they will become an embarrassing public trainwreck while refusing to rule.
On Tuesday, Jeffries — with the Democrats united behind him — received more votes than McCarthy. On the third ballot, Jeffries had 212 votes, McCarthy 202, and Ohio Republican Jim Jordan 20.
If all 434 members vote, it would take a candidate 218 votes to get the 50 percent to be elected speaker. If members abstain or vote present, the number to reach a majority may change.
Jordan, a far-right firefighter, has said he is not seeking the speakership and has voted for McCarthy himself.
Despite the impasse, McCarthy – a California conservative who served as a home minority leader for the past four years – has remained challenging.
Asked by reporters late Tuesday if he will pull out of the race, McCarthy said: “I’ll let you know when that happens – okay – but it’s not going to happen.”
McCarthy received a boost from former before Wednesday’s vote President Donald Trump.
“Really good conversations took place last night, and it is now time for all of our AMAZING Republican House members to VOTE FOR KEVIN,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
Many of the anti-McCarthy GOP rebels are staunch Trump allies. But they too have shown no signs of unfolding.
Late Tuesday, Matt Gaetz — one of the leading dissenters — sent a letter to the Capitol’s architect, who is responsible for running the building, expressing his objection to McCarthy taking the speaker’s office prematurely .
“What is the basis in law, house rule, or precedent for allowing someone who placed second in three consecutive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House? How long will he stay there before he is considered a squatter?” Gaetz wrote.