Washington, Jan 4 (EFE).- Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, up until Tuesday the favorite to become the new speaker of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday failed for the sixth time to obtain enough votes from his lower house colleagues to be elected to the post.
McCarthy, who represents a California district and is the head of the conservatives in the House, where Republicans won a slim majority in last November’s election, was unable to gain the votes of the members of the far right wing of his party, who since Tuesday have been hindering his election and supporting alternative candidates for the speakership.
The GOP leader obtained 201 votes in all three votes held on Wednesday, one vote less than he had obtained in the last of the three ballotings held on Tuesday and short of the required 218 votes normally needed to be chosen speaker.
Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, meanwhile, once again received – and for the sixth consecutive time – all 212 votes from members of his party.
The latest switch is that GOP Congressman for Florida Byron Donalds obtained the 20 dissident votes from the so-called MAGA wing of the Republican lawmakers.
There was one Republican legislator who did not cast a vote.
Shortly before the sixth balloting, Scott Perry, the leader of the group of ultraconservative lawmakers, who are grouped under the so-called Freedom Caucus, called for his colleagues to vote for Byrons in an impassioned speech on the House floor.
According to Perry, the fact that 100 years have passed since the last time that the House was unable to elect a speaker on the very first balloting is a sign that changing things in Washington is going to be very “difficult.”
The radical Republicans criticize McCarthy for not negotiating with them to reform the rules for debate in the House or to designate lawmakers from their group to head congressional committees in the new legislative session.
House rules give no other alternative than for the lower chamber to continue holding vote after vote until – via political horsetrading or sheer exhaustion – lawmakers finally manage to agree on someone to serve as speaker, giving that person a majority of the votes. Until that happens, no business can be concluded in the chamber and the lawmakers cannot even be sworn in.
A seventh vote will now be necessary, and that could happen either later on Wednesday or on Thursday, if lawmakers decide to cease their deliberations for the day. As it stood as of Wednesday afternoon, the lower house adjourned until 8 pm.
Although former President Donald Trump on Wednesday had called on his supporters in the House to close ranks behind McCarthy, one of the rebel Republicans, Lauren Boebert, suggested that the ex-president should call McCarthy and ask him to withdraw his name from consideration.
“Republicans, do not turn a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat,” Trump said on his Truth Social network before the start of the voting on Wednesday.
Democratic President Joe Biden also weighed in on the matter, saying before the start of voting on Wednesday that the logjam in the lower house due to divisions among Republicans is “embarrassing.”
“With regards to the fight over the speaker, that’s not my problem,” Biden said, adding, “I just think it’s a little embarrassing that it’s taking so long in the way they’re dealing with one another, and the rest of the world is looking.”
And Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, said, “This is a problem of their own making. This is called leadership. They should be able to work it out. Don’t put this at the Democrats’ doorstep.”