UNITED STATES: Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, suffered yet another embarrassing loss as he failed by a single vote to win the position of speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives late on Friday, prolonging the worst level of governmental dysfunction in more than 160 years.
In his 14th loss of the week, McCarthy’s 216 votes fell just one shy of the necessary total for a victory.
The reason for this was a tiny minority of right-wing extremists who refused to back down despite his promises of budget cutbacks and other concessions that had won over many of their colleagues.
Hours after McCarthy said, “It’s going to happen,” six Republicans withheld their votes or voted for different candidates.
He had scheduled a lengthy recess for the chamber, after which the lawmakers would reconvene at 10 p.m. (or Saturday night, 0300 GMT) for another round of voting in the hopes of garnering enough support to prevail.
Hardline Rep. Matt Gaetz withheld his vote in favour of McCarthy, which ended up being the decisive moment.
Before the Florida Republican conceded defeat, members of the party leadership flanked him for several minutes in an effort to change his decision.
The outcome left the House indecisive after a week of back-to-back votes that highlighted Republican divisions and questioned their ability to rule. The chamber has not faced such extreme levels of congressional dysfunction since 1859.
Lawmakers prepared for the anticipated 15th vote, which would likely extend the session well beyond midnight, with some of them shouting “one more time.” If McCarthy failed once more, it was unclear what would happen.
Another potential leader might be chosen by the caucus, such as Jim Jordan, a well-liked conservative who has garnered multiple nominations from hardliners lately, or Steve Scalise, McCarthy’s running companion.
Over the past four days, McCarthy has made the hardliners a number of concessions that would weaken his influence as speaker, which the group claimed would make it simpler for them to get the significant budget cuts they demand.
The failed vote occurred on January 6, 2021, two years after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn Donald Trump’s loss of the presidential election.
Many Democrats in the House claimed to see a connection. This week’s 14 failed ballots denoted the highest number of votes gained for the speakership since 1859.
In 2015, McCarthy made an unsuccessful bid to become speaker due to right-wing opposition.
The two former Republican speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, left their posts due to conflicts with right-wing colleagues.
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