by David Morgan and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives still had no “speaker” on Wednesday as Republican Kevin McCarthy’s candidacy was again blocked in three new votes by a small group of radical party lawmakers. despite former President Donald Trump’s call for unity.
A break in the session until 8:00 p.m. (04:00 Thursday GMT) was decided after the third vote, the sixth organized in total in two days, to allow discussions behind closed doors.
Leader of the Republicans in the lower house of Congress since 2019, Kevin McCarthy had already suffered three setbacks in as many votes on Tuesday, an unprecedented situation for a century on Capitol Hill where the “speaker” of the House had, since 1923, always been elected on the first ballot.
About twenty Republican radicals, less than 10% of the number of elected members of the party in the House, voted again on Wednesday against the appointment of the Californian, whom they consider not sufficiently invested in the partisan battles which particularly punctuated the debates during the Presidential term of Donald Trump.
“Now is the time for all the AMAZING Republican members of the House to VOTE FOR KEVIN,” Donald Trump wrote Wednesday morning on the social network he founded, Truth.
This call from the former tenant of the White House was not enough, the vote – the fourth in total at that time – having still ended in failure for Kevin McCarthy with 201 votes, while a majority of 218 votes is required.
Twenty elected Republicans have nominated Byron Donalds, who arrived in the House in 2020 and seen as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy – at least enough to prevent the latter from obtaining a majority.
“NOT GOOD TO SEE”
“They want a new face, a new vision, a new leadership,” Republican lawmaker Chip Roy said of American voters he says are tired of the “establishment.”
This internal quarrel about the “speaker” of the House, a key position since second in the hierarchy of succession in the event of the incapacity of the American president, gives a disconcerting image to the majority – narrow – obtained by the Republicans in favor of the midterms elections last November.
It also illustrates the challenges that could undermine Republicans on the way to the 2024 presidential election, for which Donald Trump, still an influential figure on the American right, is currently the party’s only declared candidate.
The midterm results were seen as disappointing by Republicans, some of whom blamed Donald Trump, and fueled the current crisis.
The weaker-than-expected majority obtained in the House of Representatives allows the elected radicals to have significant weight in the appointment of the “speaker”, with the hope that their voices carry more weight in the direction of the party and in the choices in terms of expenses in particular.
If the Republican takeover of the House portends slowdowns, even deadlocks, in Democratic President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, the internal squabble casts doubt on the ability of the lower house of Congress to fulfill its obligations. basic, such as voting on the financing of federal administrations.
“It’s not a pretty sight,” Joe Biden told reporters at the White House. “It’s not a good thing (…) I hope they will recover”.
(Report David Morgan, Richard Cowan, Makini Brice, Moira Warburton, Gram Slattery and Trevor Hunnicutt; French version Jean Terzian)