The impasse for the election of the president of the United States House of Representatives continues, after three days of resistance from a group of ultra-conservatives against the name proposed by the Republican Party itself. Kevin McCarthy once again tried to reach out this Thursday and make concessions in vain to the twenty supporters of Donald Trump who are blocking the election of the new speaker.
With information from Heloísa Villela, RFI correspondent in New York, and AFP.
After 11 votes, some twenty Republican congressmen continue to boycott Kevin McCarthy, favorite to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. Thus, the Chamber closed the debates without agreement and returns to plenary this Friday from 12 local time. Without those 20 votes, McCarthy doesn’t get the half plus one needed to secure the job.
In the absence of a president, the House of Representatives, which began a new legislature after the mid-term elections held in November, cannot swear in its members, decide the members of the different commissions or present bills. “I hope Republicans will put an end to the bickering, pettiness and backstabbing so we can work in the service of the American people,” said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.
McCarthy has accepted one of his demands to facilitate the impeachment of the speaker of the House: that the number of votes needed to request a possible impeachment be reduced to just one. But so far nothing has worked; opposition to his candidacy even seems to be gaining momentum.
Some of McCarthy’s detractors disagreed with specific political positions, but others simply expressed their general discontent. “Every Republican in Congress knows Kevin doesn’t really believe in anything. He has no ideology,” Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz recently wrote of McCarthy.
The process could take weeks.
The election of the speaker of the House of Representatives, the third most important office in American politics after the president and vice president, requires a majority of 218 votes. Currently, Kevin McCarthy has failed to tally more than 201, raising questions about how long his candidacy will be viable.
McCarthy, elected by the state of California, has no worthy opponent. The name of the leader of the Trump group, Steve Scalise, is the only one circulating as a possible alternative, but his chances of occupying the position are slim. The deputies will continue voting until the president of the Chamber is elected. Until now McCarthy has not managed to change any vote, but today they will try again to put an end to this already historic marathon.
The process was believed to take hours, but could take weeks. In 1856, it took two months to elect the speaker, as the charge is called in the United States. At that time, 133 votes were held. “There is no doubt that the issues that divide us today are far less serious than those that faced us in 1856,” said Rep. John James, urging his colleagues to support Kevin McCarthy without delay.
President Joe Biden called the situation “shameful to the country.” Irritation and impatience are also present in the “Grand Old Party”as the Republican Party is known, which mostly supports McCarthy, giving rise to debates in the chamber.
In the midst of this paralysis, the Republicans cannot, for the moment, open the numerous investigations that they have promised against Biden and his government. Democrats see the situation with some wildness. Sarcastic laughter and applause for their Republican colleagues were heard in the chamber.
Biden’s party supports the candidacy of its leader, Hakeem Jeffries, but this congressman elected from New York does not have enough votes to win either. Facing a hostile but disorganized House could be to Biden’s political advantage if he confirms his intention to run for re-election in 2024, a decision he is expected to announce early in the year.