Kevin McCarthy fails to win majority in now Republican-controlled chamber as he faces opposition from far-right legislators.
For the first time in nearly a century, the United States House of Representatives has failed to elect a speaker in the first round of voting as Republican Kevin McCarthy fell short of securing a majority in the chamber to succeed Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans narrowly won control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections, but several right-wing legislators of McCarthy’s own party refused to back him during the new House’s first meeting on Tuesday.
The speaker must acquire a majority of the votes, excluding absent lawmakers and those who vote “present”. On Tuesday, McCarthy needed 218 votes, but he only received 202, with 19 Republicans voting against him – mainly for representatives Andy Biggs and Jim Jordan.
Before the voting, far-right Congressman Paul Gosar had nominated Biggs as a candidate, but Jordan did not seek the speakership, and he voted for McCarthy himself.
Democratic nominee, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, received 211 votes, a higher tally than McCarthy, but he was never realistically in the running for the speakership with his party in the minority.
McCarthy, a California Republican, had served as minority leader since Democrats took the majority in 2019.
The chamber, which will remain effectively non-functional until a new speaker is chosen, will now hold subsequent rounds of voting.
The speaker of the House is second in the line of succession for the US presidency and the country’s most powerful legislator with decisive influence on what bills and amendments get to be considered.
The House and the Senate make up Congress, which passes federal legislation, allocates government spending and ensures oversight.
More to follow…