(WASHINGTON) It hasn’t happened in 100 years: The elected members of the US House of Representatives ended their session on Tuesday without electing a president, as deep tensions in Republican ranks plunged Congress into uncertainty.
The favorite to replace Nancy Pelosi, 50-year-old Kevin McCarthy has been unable to quell the rebellion from a group of Trumpists who consider him too moderate after three straight votes. Elected officials agreed to hold off on their votes until Wednesday morning — a time for behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Republicans, who won a majority in the House of Representatives in November’s election, have vowed to use their new opposition power by opening a series of investigations into US President Joe Biden.
But the initiation of such hostilities is hampered by these internal squabbles: elected members of the House of Representatives cannot be officially sworn in, so no inquiry can be opened until the president is appointed.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump criticized what he called “excessive agitation” within a party he wants to win the nomination to retake the White House in 2024.
A 218-vote majority is required for the election of the “Speaker,” the third most important person in American politics after the President and Vice President. At a threshold that Kevin McCarthy couldn’t reach, twenty elected Trumpites decided to play spoilsport.
“We shouldn’t take it personally, but the future of our country depends on it,” assured Chip Roy, a volatile elected representative from Texas.
However, Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy is widely supported within his party: The announcement of his nomination at the Hemicycle on Tuesday was met with overwhelming Republican support.
By the start of the third round, some of the irritation was beginning to be felt, with more moderate Republicans urging their colleagues to line up around Kevin McCarthy. “We’re here to get things done,” implored Republican Committee Chairman Steve Scalise, to which Democrats laughed.
Throughout the process, Joe Biden’s party rallied around the nomination of Democratic incumbent Hakeem Jeffries, prompting the New York elected official to chant “Hakeem, Hakeem, Hakeem!” “.
But the nominee did not have enough votes to access the perch.
Choosing a Speaker of the House of Representatives can take hours or weeks: in 1856, elected members of Congress agreed after only two months and 133 votes.
Kevin McCarthy seems to want to make promises to this conservative fringe to prevent history from stumbling: In 2015, he already failed to become Speaker of the House of Representatives in the face of a sling from the party’s right wing.
But he can’t alienate moderate Republicans too much.
Although its room for maneuver has been reduced, it currently has no credible competitor. Ohio elected official Jim Jordan’s name is being floated as a possible replacement, and his chances don’t look serious.
Coming to Biden?
With a Republican majority in the House, Joe Biden and the Democrats can’t pass big new plans.
But with the Democrats holding a Senate, neither will their rivals.
Will they establish themselves in planned resistance? It should come together, while some of their elected officials — during a vote on the budget before Christmas — voted with Democrats.
So the election of “Speaker” helps measure their ability to harm the President.
Facing a hostile House would be a political boon for Joe Biden if he confirms his intention to run again in 2024 — a decision he is set to announce earlier this year.
The president was careful not to comment on Republican disagreements, with his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre assuring the Democratic leader “will not interfere in the process.”
In the event of a legislative deadlock, he will no doubt blame obstruction on weak Republicans, hoping to turn the tide in his favor.
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