The US House of Representatives adjourned without a speaker on Tuesday after the presumptive Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy failed to get the votes needed to be elected in three three consecutive rounds of polling.
McCarthy, who failed to convince his hardline party colleagues, needed 20 more votes to clinch the election. He was short of 19 votes in the first two rounds but in thee third vote one more Congressman switched sides to align with the ultra right wing of the Grand Old party. McCarthy, a California Congressman, needs to win 218 votes. The Republican strength in the House is 222.
It is the first time since 1923 that the House failed to elect the Speaker on the first day of the session following the mid-term elections. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had stepped down from the position after the Democrats narrowly lost the majority in the November elections.
McCarthy made a series of concessions to garner the support of the 'party rebels' but the ultra right wing members like Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Chip Roy of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona are holding the fort against McCarthy.
McCarthy Refuses to Drop Out of Race
McCarthy and his allies insisted that he will not drop out of the race to become the next Speaker.
"It's not going to happen," McCarthy said after the failed bids. According to colleagues, McCarthy exuded confidence that he will be able to win 11 more votes to clinch the position. McCarthy also said he was in touch with former President Donald Trump, who had endorsed him on Monday.
"He thinks it is better that all the Republicans get together and solve this .... It doesn't look good for Republicans, but we want to be able to solve it when we're stronger in the long run. What we went through today, in the end, becomes a positive that we're actually focused, united, much more," McCarthy said about Trump's support.
Why is McCarthy Struggling?
At one point the floor descended into chaos after the Freedom Caucus members led by Matt Gaetz nominated Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan as Speaker. However, Jordan, who is a prominent Freedom Caucus member, had nominated McCarthy for Speaker.
Some observers feel that McCarthy's eagerness to offer concessions in lieu of support made him look weak and power hungry. "The fact he was negotiating with the Republicans at all made him look very, very weak to the point of being desperate," a Republican lobbyist said, according to BBC.
"Kevin McCarthy has not made friends with certain segments of the caucus for a while, he's made a lot of enemies ... There's people who don't like him for political reasons, for personal reasons," the lobbyist added.
The House Republicans will hold another conference on Wednesday Morning to thrash out the differences. Insiders are confident that McCarthy will be able to win the support of some of those who oppose him and eventually solve the crisis.
There is no limit on the number of the voting rounds to elect a Speaker. In 1923, which was the last occasion a candidate failed to win on the first vote, the election went into the ninth round to find a Speaker. The whole process went on for several days.
Before the Speaker is elected the Congress cannot discharge any other business, including the swearing in of the newly elected Representatives.
The first session of the US Congress will convene on January 3 as per the long-held custom, and the Speaker election will take place on that day. The role of Speaker is extremely important and influential in the US as it is the third-highest ranking position after the president and vice president. The US House Speaker is expected to take on the powers of the president in the eventuality of either the president or the vice-president being unable to discharge the duties of the highest office in the land.