Fight to lead US lower house appears to be nearing an end

Washington, Jan 6 (EFE).- The position of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives remains vacant, but Republican leader Kevin McCarthy expressed confidence that he will prevail when members return to the chamber late Friday night for a 14th round of voting.

“We’ll come back tonight. I believe at that time we’ll have the votes to finish this once and for all,” the California lawmaker told reporters after the Republican majority passed a motion to adjourn until 10 pm (0300 GMT Saturday).

He sought to put the best face on the most contentious House Speaker election in more than a century.

“Getting together and just finding the ability of how we’re going to work together, it’s new for us, being in a tight majority,” McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to be more effective, more efficient. And definitely government’s going to be more accountable.”

Twenty of the 222 Republicans making up the House majority after the November elections declined to support McCarthy in the first 11 rounds of voting.

But Friday saw 15 of those 20 abandon their opposition to McCarthy. Even so, he still fell short of a majority on the 13th ballot.

Two Republican members who were not present for the 12th and 13th ballots are expected to be back in Washington by the time the House reconvenes Friday night, while McCarthy and his allies continue to work on winning over some of the remaining holdouts.

The House Speaker stands just behind the vice president in the line of succession and traditionally wields enormous power over the legislative process, though McCarthy has found himself obliged to concede some of that authority to persuade the doubters in his own caucus.

Election of a Speaker is the first order of business when the new Congress convenes and all other activity in the House, including the swearing-in of members, will remain on hold until the position is filled. EFE pem/dr

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