Salem Radio Network News Thursday, February 2, 2023

Politics

House adjouns until Wednesday amid GOP standoff over speaker election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unable to elect Republican leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker Tuesday, the Republicans adjourned for the day in disarray as the party tries to regroup from his defeat after a long, messy start for the new Congress.

The surprise move end to Day One shows there is no easy way out for McCarthy whose effort to claim the gavel collapsed to opposition from conservatives. Needing 218 votes in the full House, McCarthy got just 203 in two rounds — less even than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber. A third ballot was even worse, with McCarthy losing 20 votes as night fell on the new House GOP majority, tensions rising as all other business came to a halt.

The House agreed to return at noon Wednesday.

McCarthy had pledged a “battle on the floor” for as long as it took to overcome right-flank fellow Republicans who were refusing to give him their votes. But it was not at all clear how the embattled GOP leader could rebound after becoming the first House speaker nominee in 100 years to fail to win the gavel with his party in the majority.

Without a speaker, the House cannot fully form — swearing in its members, naming its committee chairmen, engaging in floor proceedings and launching investigations of the Biden administration.

“We all came here to get things done,” said the second-ranking Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, in a rousing speech urging his colleagues to drop their protest.

Railing against President Joe Biden’s agenda, Scalise said, “We can’t start fixing those problems until we elect Kevin McCarthy our next speaker.”

It was a chaotic start to the new Congress and pointed to a tangled road ahead with Republicans now in control of the House. A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda, want to upend business as usual in Washington, and were committed to stop McCarthy’s rise without concessions to their priorities.

“The American people are watching, and it’s a good thing,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who nominated fellow conservative Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio as an alternative for speaker.

It was the second time conservatives pushed forward a reluctant Jordan, the McCarthy rival-turned-ally, who earlier had risen to urge his colleagues, even those who backed him, to drop vote for McCarthy.

“We have to rally around him, come together” Jordan said.

Jordan got six votes in the first round, 19 in the second round and was on track to pick up a similar number in the third.

Smiling through it all, McCarthy huddled briefly with aides, then appeared intent on simply trying to wear down his colleagues. Earlier, he strode into the chamber, posed for photos, and received a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle after being nominated by the third-ranking Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who said the Californian from gritty Bakersfield “has what it takes” to lead House Republicans.

But on the first vote a challenge was quickly raised by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a conservative former leader of the Freedom Caucus, who was nominated by a fellow conservative as speaker. In all, 19 Republicans peeled away, denying McCarthy the majority he needs as they cast votes for Biggs, Jordan or others in protest.

The mood was tense, at least on the Republican side, as lawmakers rose from their seats, in lengthy in-person voting. Democrats were joyous as they cast their own historic votes for their leader, Rep. Jeffries of New York.

In the first-round tally, McCarthy won 203 votes, with 10 for Biggs and nine for other Republicans. In the second, it was 203 for McCarthy and 19 for Jordan. Democrat Jeffries had the most, 212 votes, but no nominee won a majority.

After a raucous private GOP meeting, a core group of conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus, were furious, calling the meeting a “beat down” by McCarthy allies and remaining steadfast in their opposition to the GOP leader.

“There’s one person who could have changed all this,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the Freedom Caucus.

The group said McCarthy refused the group’s last-ditch offer for rules changes in a meeting late Monday at the Capitol.

“If you want to drain the swamp you can’t put the biggest alligator in control of the exercise,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

“He eagerly dismissed us,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

The chaplain opened with a prayer Tuesday seeking to bring the 118th Congress to life.

But first, House Republicans had to elect a speaker, second in succession to the presidency.

Even with an endorsement from former President Trump, McCarthy fell short.

Democrats enthusiastically nominated Jeffries, D-.N.Y., who is taking over as party leader, as their choice for speaker — a typically symbolic gesture in the minority but one that took on new importance as Republicans were in disarray.

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