Washington, Jan 5 (UiTV/IANS) – Amid an ongoing historic political stalemate, the US House of Representatives has temporarily adjourned after Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy lost six rounds of voting for the post of Speaker.
The House, which will continue to be paralysed until the stalemate is resolved, voted late Wednesday night to reconvene at midday on Thursday for closed-door negotiations as Republicans scramble to find a path forward.
The House Republican majority has been stuck at a contentious stalemate amid opposition to McCarthy from a group of conservatives.
House members voted three times on Tuesday, the opening day of the divided 118th Congress, but the California Republican fell short of the necessary 218 votes to be the next Speaker, reports Xinhua news agency.
This is the first time that a House Speaker — who maintains order, manages its proceedings, and governs the administration of its business on the lower chamber’s floor — has not been elected on the first ballot in 100 years.
The 435-seat House will have to vote on and on until a Speaker is elected with a majority of votes.
Before that, members cannot be sworn in and committees cannot be formed with the rest of the business stalled.
President Joe Biden reacted to the political drama surrounding the House speakership vote on Wednesday morning, saying that “it’s embarrassing the way it’s taking so long”.
“How do you think this looks to the rest of the world?” Biden told reporters at the White House before leaving for Hebron, Kentucky. “It’s not a good look. It’s not a good thing.”
McCarthy has the support of most House Republicans and former President Donald Trump, but a handful of hardliners have opposed his bid to lead the conference by arguing that he is insufficiently conservative while refusing to decentralise the Speaker’s power.
Trump reaffirmed his support for McCarthy in a social media post on Wednesday, urging Republican House members to elect him and not to “turn a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat”.
Congressman Matt Gaetz, a longtime Trump supporter and one of the House Republicans seeking to doom McCarthy’s quest to take the gavel, responded in a statement that the former President’s suggestion “changes neither my view of McCarthy nor Trump nor my vote”.
McCarthy told reporters that “I think we’ll get to 218”, as he appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning despite no clear path yet to break the historic deadlock.
The House has elected a Speaker 127 times since 1789.
There have been 14 instances of speaker elections requiring multiple ballots.
Thirteen of 14 multiple-ballot elections occurred before the Civil War, when party divisions were more nebulous, according to congressional historians.
The last time a speaker election required two or more votes on the floor happened in 1923.
This time, all House Democrats have voted for Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, for the top post.
Though it’s unlikely for Jeffries to attain the position, he is set to become the first African-American lawmaker to lead a party in either chamber of Congress.
Republicans flipped the House in the November 8, 2022, midterm elections while Democrats held onto their majority in the Senate.
The divided Congress convened for the first time on Tuesday, with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the opening of the 100-people upper chamber in which Democrats control 51 seats versus 49 for Republicans.
Chuck Schumer from New York and Mitch McConnell from Kentucky remain the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, respectively.