US House Republicans narrow their options to four as they again seek a leader

US House Republicans narrow their options to four as they again seek a leader
US House Republicans narrow their options to four as they again seek a leader

Hello and welcome to the details of US House Republicans narrow their options to four as they again seek a leader and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - US Rep. and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) talks to reporters outside a House Republican conference meeting to choose a nominee in the race for Speaker of the House at the US Capitol in Washington October 24, 2023. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Oct 24 — Republicans in the US House of Representatives today narrowed their options as they tried to fill a leadership vacuum that has paralysed the chamber for three weeks and left Congress unable to tackle urgent funding requests for Israel and Ukraine.

The chamber’s No. 3 Republican, Representative Tom Emmer, won the most votes in initial rounds of voting but failed to secure a majority, lawmakers said. Republicans are aiming for a candidate who can secure 217 votes from their 221-member caucus, a high bar intended to ensure that they can elect a speaker without relying on Democratic votes.

The fractious caucus has already rejected two prior speaker nominees, leaving the chamber leaderless for more than three weeks.

Three other candidates remained in the race: Representatives Mike Johnson, who is running as a consensus candidate, Byron Donalds, a member of the party’s hard-right faction, and Kevin Hern, who leads a conservative policy group.

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Republicans eliminated three other hopefuls: Representatives Austin Scott, Pete Sessions and Jack Bergman.

More votes were expected to follow, with the aim of uniting behind a nominee for a position that has been vacant since October 3.

“People are so discouraged by what’s happened the last three weeks that they want to come together,” Representative Don Bacon said on Monday.

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Emmer can point to leadership and campaign fundraising experience that normally would make him a strong candidate for the post.

But Republicans have already rejected two leaders with those skills. Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker by a small group of Republican insurgents on October 3, and his No. 2, Steve Scalise, dropped his own bid the following week when he was unable to line up enough votes to win the job.

Two other candidates, Representatives Gary Palmer and Dan Meuser, dropped out before voting began.

Republicans picked another hard right leader, Representative Jim Jordan, as their nominee last week but dropped him after he lost three floor votes. Some of those who voted against Jordan last reported getting death threats.

‘Not thrilled’

The infighting has left the House unable to respond to President Joe Biden’s US$106 billion request for aid to Israel, Ukraine and US border security. Congress will also have to act before a Nov. 17 deadline to fund the US government and avert a partial shutdown.

The uncertainty has also helped to push up the US government’s borrowing costs. The government posted a record US$1.7 trillion deficit for the most recent fiscal year, in part due to higher interest payments.

“Americans are looking at us right now, and they’re not thrilled,” Representative Anthony D’Esposito said.

Republicans control the House by a narrow 221-212 margin, which means they can afford no more than four defections on partisan votes. Some 25 Republicans voted against Jordan’s speaker bid last Friday.

With Democrats united in opposition, Republicans will have to ensure they have 217 votes of their own.

A nominee is chosen by simple majority, but Republicans might keep voting and negotiating in private until their next nominee has locked in 217 Republican votes.

Democrats have said they are open to a compromise candidate that would allow the chamber to function. Many Republicans have said on principle that they would not back somebody who had support from the opposition party.

That could change if Republicans remain deadlocked.

“Every hour that this goes by, members get closer and closer to wanting to try unconventional approaches,” said Representative Dusty Johnson. — Reuters

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