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US House adjourns for second day after failing to elect new speaker

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The US House of Representatives limped to an adjournment after conservative hardliners blocked establishment favorite Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker./AFP
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Jan 05, 2023 - 10:25 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening to adjourn for the day after a second marathon day of voting again failed to result in the election of a new speaker.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the mantle continued to be rejected by a core group of his partisan dissidents who have remained adamant in their opposition through six rounds of voting despite overtures from former President Donald Trump.

The group of nearly two-dozen Republicans is largely comprised of stalwart Trump allies, and their opposition has led to an impasse not seen in US politics for 100 years.

McCarthy exited Wednesday with one fewer supporter after Indiana Representative-elect Victoria Spartz chose to vote present three times Wednesday in what were effectively votes against McCarthy after lending her support on Tuesday.

The chamber’s top Republican can afford to lose just four members of his caucus if he is to attain the necessary majority in the 435-member House to secure the Speaker’s gavel. It is unclear how he can shore up support this late into the game, but there is likely to be heavy back-door politicking in the Capitol ahead of the House’s planned reconvening Thursday at noon.

The 20 Republicans who backed a candidate other than McCarthy on Wednesday threw their weight behind Representative-elect Byron Donalds from Florida after Jim Jordan, their first choice, repeatedly rejected their endorsements in preference for McCarthy. Unlike Jordan, Donalds has embraced their support.

Formally nominating him during the fourth round of voting, Texas Representative Chip Roy said the incoming lawmaker is reflective of the change needed by the country, and by inference, not offered by McCarthy.

“There’s an important reason for nominating Byron, and that is this country needs a change. This country needs leadership that does not reflect this city. This town that is badly broken,” said Roy.

“We’re not at the place where we need to be to guarantee that we’re going to be able to stand up in the face of the swamp that continues to step over the American people on a daily basis and spend money we don’t have,” he added.

The need for multiple ballots to select a speaker is the first time in 100 years that repeated rounds have been needed.

The very public Republican row was in stark contrast to the uniform support among Democrats for Representative Hakeem Jeffries to assume the speakership. In all, 212 Democrats supported Jeffries, but he is not expected to win the gavel due to a lack of support from Republicans that could get him to cross the 218-vote threshold.

The steadfast opposition from McCarthy’s detractors came in defiance of an appeal from former President Trump to halt their opposition and back the Republican leader.

“Even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off — I think it actually needs to be reversed,” said Representative Lauren Boebert, an opponent of McCarthy’s who nominated Donalds in the fifth round.

“The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, ‘Sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.'”

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