No let up in speaker fight for paralysed US Congress

No let up in speaker fight for paralysed US Congress
No let up in speaker fight for paralysed US Congress

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Jim Jordan, the 59-year-old chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee who is backed by Donald , has voiced confidence that he can get the 217 votes required to secure the speakership in a vote expected on Tuesday. — AFP pic

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 — The US House of Representatives entered a third week of paralysis yesterday as Republicans struggled to unite behind a leader to end a bitter civil war that has stalled their domestic agenda and thwarted action on the Israel crisis.

The lower chamber of Congress has been at a standstill since Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by his own party on October 3, stripping lawmakers of the ability to bring legislation to the floor.

Jim Jordan, the 59-year-old chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee who is backed by Donald Trump, has voiced confidence that he can get the 217 votes required to secure the speakership in a vote expected today.

His narrow win in the House Republican conference’s internal speaker election Friday over a lawmaker with almost no public profile raised questions over whether he has the support to win that vote.

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However, Jordan spent the weekend working to move colleagues into his column and opposition to his speakership appeared to be faltering ahead of an evening meeting of House Republicans.

“The principles that unite us as Republicans are far greater than the disagreements that divide us. And the differences between us and our Democrat colleagues vastly outweigh our internal divisions,” he said Monday in a letter to colleagues.

“The country and our conference cannot afford us attacking each other right now. It is time we unite to get back to work on behalf of the American people.”

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Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House, meaning nearly all of their lawmakers have to coalesce behind their nominee in the election for that candidate to stand any chance of winning the gavel.

Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, the Republican second-in-command, beat Jordan narrowly for the nomination last week before abruptly dropping out when it became clear he wouldn’t win a floor vote.

‘Somewhere south of 10’

A second public tussle for the speakership — just nine months after McCarthy’s marathon, 15-round battle to win the gavel — could hardly have come at a worse time.

The leaderless House has been unable to pass any bills or approve White House requests for emergency aid, with Israel — the top US ally in the Middle East — at war with Hamas militants.

Meanwhile lawmakers are staring down a looming government shutdown as they have only a month to agree on 2024 federal spending levels before the money runs out.

Jordan was boosted by five vocal opponents announcing Monday they had reconsidered their objections after being reassured by the former wrestling coach from Ohio.

“My gut tells me we’re somewhere south of 10 who are still being recalcitrant,” Texas congressman Chip Roy told a conservative radio station.

If Jordan’s bid founders, Louisiana’s Mike Johnson, the vice chairman of the conference, and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer have both been suggested as alternatives.

But some Republicans believe no candidate would be able to get the required votes and that a power-sharing agreement with Democrats might be necessary.

The party of President Joe Biden would demand heavy concessions, however, to support a Republican speaker. — AFP

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