Day 3: Historic Battle to Elect US Houses Speakers

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Day 3 of the nation’s historic and embittered effort to elect a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has turned into Night 3, as the tenth round of voting began just before 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening. 

Once again, the House failed to break a contentious deadlock after four votes on Thursday afternoon. The deadlock has paralyzed all lawmaking efforts at the country’s Capitol and made history as the longest Speaker fight since 1856.

Nancy Pelosi (Democrat) said Tuesday that her tenure as Speaker was over. “insanity,”According to a Thursday statement, Republicans were “doing the same thing over and over again with no change.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York who is his party’s Speaker candidate, said, “It’s my hope that today, the House Republicans will stop the bickering, stop the backbiting, and stop the backstabbing of each other so we can have the back of the American people — that’s what we were elected to do.”

Social media was flooded with criticisms, cynicism, and jokes about Republicans’ inability to elect a leader after many votes.

Right-wing Republicans continued to dominate the proceedings Thursday, defecting to efforts to elect Kevin McCarthy, the GOP Rep from California, who they claim is unfit to lead.

McCarthy still had 201 votes after Thursday’s initial vote. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana again did not vote for any candidate, simply saying “present”When her name was called to the floor.

And so it went in the eighth vote. By round nine, McCarthy had lost one vote after Rep. Ken Buck, McCarthy supporter from Colorado, did not vote, reportedly because Buck was on his way to a medical appointment. Jeffries, whose party is not in power, continued to receive 212 votes.

To win, McCarthy will need 218 votes. On Wednesday, the same 20 rebel Republicans voted to elect Rep. Byron Donalds in rounds four through six. On Thursday, Matt Gaetz split from that camp, voting twice for former President Donald Trump, which drew growns and boos from those in the House. 

After a tenth round of voting wrapped up at around 6 p.m. Thursday, McCarthy still came up short, with 200 votes.

Soon after, Rep. French Hill stood to nominate McCarthy for the fifth round of voting of the day, followed by a nomination for Hakeem Jeffries, who once again took 212 votes in the fourth vote; nods for Kevin Hern and Byron Donalds followed, and a nomination for Donald Trump by Matt Gaetz, which was met with silence in the House. The voting started at 6:45 p.m.

McCarthy failed to gain any votes despite fiercely negotiating Wednesday night with party defectors, and offering more concessions including reinstating a rule that a single House member can force a vote to oust the Speaker.

The House cannot function without a majority-elected Speaker. The House is unable to do any work, there are no committees, members cannot be sworn-in, and new elected representatives can’t be granted security clearances that would permit them to be briefed about classified intelligence and security information.

The last time the House failed to elect a leader in its opening session was in December 1923, when it took nine votes over three days to finally pick Republican Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts to a third term as Speaker. 

Pennsylvania’s Rep. Scott Perry tweeted Thursday morning, denying that any agreement was reached with McCarthy’s camp. “A deal is NOT done. When confidences are betrayed and leaks are directed, it’s even more difficult to trust. Totally (unsatisfactory). I will not yield to the status quo.”

 

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