Republican McCarthy is still unable to unite his party behind him in the election for chairman of the US House of Representatives. He has already had to take five electoral defeats in a row. There is no solution in sight for the messed up situation.
The drama in the US Congress continues: Republican Kevin McCarthy continued his series of defeats in the power struggle for the most powerful post in the US Parliament. The House of Representatives went ahead with the election for the chair of the Congress Chamber, but McCarthy was also unsuccessful in two more ballots. Already on Tuesday, after three attempts on Tuesday, he again did not get a sufficient majority among his party colleagues.
The Republicans had again nominated an opposing candidate: Republican MP Byron Donalds. He received 20 votes in both the fourth and fifth ballots. Thus McCarthy could not reduce the number of his opponents. At first there was no solution in sight to the impasse that had thrown Congress into chaos. An appeal by ex-President Donald Trump to his party colleagues to end the drama and vote for McCarthy went unheeded.
The defeat had already been classified as historic the day before: since 1923, no "speaker" has needed more than one vote. Before the fourth vote, President Joe Biden and his predecessor Trump had intervened. The bitter rivals unanimously warned that the situation was becoming embarrassing.
"That doesn't make a good impression," Democrat Biden said. "This is the United States of America and I hope they pull themselves together." Allies and enemies may have doubts as to whether US democracy has recovered from the January 6, 2021 riots. Back then, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the seat of Congress. Trump, for his part, called on his party colleagues to vote for McCarthy on his media platform Truth Social. "Do not turn a great triumph into a huge and embarrassing defeat," he wrote.
Without a chairman, the chamber is effectively unable to act. The budget laws for the federal government emanate from the regular 435 MPs. The stalemate also raised questions about whether the House of Representatives will be able to carry out its most basic functions in the state structure. The Republicans had actually hoped to initiate investigations against Biden or to advance their political priorities after returning to power.
Moderate Republicans expressed frustration ahead of Wednesday's vote. "There's growing anger among members because they're having a hard time understanding what exactly the holdouts want," said Rep. Dusty Johnson. For years, a dispute has been raging among the Republicans between those members who, like Trump, want to move the party further to the right, and a comparatively moderate camp. McCarthy faces allegations that he was not aggressive enough in his tenure as minority leader to stand up to the Democrats under outgoing leader Nancy Pelosi. Some Republicans also consider him too fickle.
In the congressional elections in November, the Republicans regained a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in four years. With 222 to 212 mandates, this is narrow. Nevertheless, the election of the "speaker" - in German usually called "president" - of the House of Representatives should only be a formality. After all, it is about the third-highest post in the state, after the presidential and vice-presidential offices.
According to the House Historical Service, there have only been 14 occasions since 1789 when more than one ballot was required to elect the Speaker. Of these, 13 were before the Civil War, when party affiliation was more flexible. In the USA there is no faction requirement.
Even if McCarthy were to prevail in the end, he would take up the post weakened. Instead of being able to focus on making life difficult for Biden, he would have to bridge the gaps in his own party. The fact that he initially lost again despite Trump's support on Wednesday could also weaken the presidential candidate. In the United States, congressional and presidential elections will take place in November 2024.