WASHINGTON (Daily Pakistan Online) The new US Congress was plunged into disarray on Tuesday after renegade right-wing Republicans blocked their own party’s favorite candidate, Kevin McCarthy, from becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Congressman McCarthy of California needed a simple majority to be elected as Washington’s top lawmaker, according to foreign media. The Speaker presides over House business and is the second most important office after the US presidency, but for the first time in 100 years, Republicans failed to elect a Speaker in the first three rounds of voting. Instead of celebrating its new control of the House, the party is facing a battle to elect a speaker that could deepen internal divisions and put McCarthy’s political career at stake.
McCarthy needed 218 votes in the lower house but failed to bring out party rebels, including several high-profile allies of former President Donald Trump. He lost his own party in each of the first two rounds. There were 19 votes against, which became 20 in the third round. He fared so poorly in all three rounds that he lost all three times to Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, although there is little doubt that the Republicans will ultimately win the speakership.
The last time there was more than one round of voting to elect a speaker at the start of a new Congress was a century ago in 1923. Also in 1855, the process of electing a Speaker involved 133 rounds of voting in two months.