The battle in the US Lower House continues: McCarthy fails again and the vacuum of Republican leadership is evident

California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy leaves the floor after the House of Representatives adjourned late in the afternoon as it met for a second day to try to elect its president and form the 118th United States Congress, the Wednesday, January 4, 2023, in Washington (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik/)

With the pressure mounting, the chair of the speaker of the US House of Representatives was empty for a third day on Thursday, when the Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed again in the seventh of an excruciating series of votes to win enough votes from his party to seize the House gavel.

with the Republicans House of Representatives divided by infighting, unable to come together to elect a president from that legislative body, former president donald trump gave an emphatic message for the new Republican majority.

“Don’t turn a big win into a giant, embarrassing loss”Trump warned in all caps on his social media platform Wednesday morning. He urged the 20 or so rebels to “seal the deal” and back the leader of the Republican lawmakers, Kevin McCarthy.

That didn’t help. A former McCarthy supporter chose to vote simply “present.”

The deadlock shown by repeated votes in the United States House of Representatives to elect its president means more than an embarrassing situation for McCarthy, who is now the first person in a century to fail after multiple votes — seven so far — and seems no closer to taking office than when they started. The revolt alarms the Republican Party, and its members warn they are sabotaging their new narrow majority, alienating voters as they struggle to perform their most basic function: elect their own leader.

The episode also raises deeper questions about the identity and future of the Republican Party. It’s a fresh reminder of former President Trump’s waning influence within the party — including among the most outspoken supporters of his Make America Great Again political movement (“Make America Great Again,” or MAGA) — as he is again seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

This exposes a gap in republican leadershipwithout an obvious alternative to unite and guide the party through the practical responsibilities of governing and political challenges.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned that Republicans who strongly oppose McCarthy are “playing with fire.”

Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)
Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo) (KEVIN LAMARQUE/)

“This is the biggest danger we’ve had as a party since 1964,” Gingrich warned in an interview, referring to the Republican National Convention in which moderates faced off against more conservative rebels. The Republican base is “watching chaos in the House and eyeing the potential for a Never-Trump vs. Always-Trump collision that could be devastatingly divisive,” he added.

The party’s allies among the country’s conservative media are just as distraught.

“This is a disaster for the Republicans,” the Fox News host said Wednesday. Steve Doocy, during the program Fox & Friends. Sean Hannity claimed Tuesday night that Republicans in the House of Representatives “are now about to turn into a complete clown show if they’re not careful.”

On Tuesday, McCarthy failed to obtain the required majority during three votes because a group of 20 rogue Republicans insisted on a more conservative alternative. On Wednesday, the anti-McCarthy group reached 21 throughout three other failed votes.

Until a president is elected, elected House representatives cannot be sworn in, leaving the lower house of Congress in a suspended state of dysfunction.

The extraordinary infighting has spread throughout the Republican ecosystem as the 2024 election cycle begins.

“What I hear from grassroots Republicans, donors, candidates and even federal elected officials is that there is a significant leadership vacuum on the Republican side,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a California lawyer who is challenging the president. of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, to lead the organizing committee of the party.

Dhillon refused to cast an endorsement vote in the president’s choice, only underscoring that “there’s a feeling that the old guard doesn’t get it.”

The chaos is in stark contrast to Democrats, who are largely united behind the president. Joe Biden, ahead of the new presidential election season.

As one of the failed House Republican votes unfolded on Wednesday, Biden appeared alongside Senate Republican leader, mitch mcconnellduring an event in Kentucky designed to highlight the bipartisan infrastructure package that the Democratic president signed into law in 2021. Trump responded by lashing out at McConnell with a racist attack on McConnell’s wife, who was Secretary of Transportation during the Trump administration.

“This is what they are. Crisis, confusion, disorder. It’s unfortunate,” said Pete Aguilar, chairman of the House Democratic caucus, at a press conference.

Much of the dysfunction plaguing the Republican Party today is related to the party’s adoption of Trump’s slash-and-burn policy. and the weakened political position of the former president. McCarthy exemplifies that model, having traveled to Mar-a-Lago in early 2021 to visit Trump after the January 6 insurrection: a move that helped cement Trump’s political resuscitation and was widely seen as part of a McCarthy’s effort to bolster his candidacy for the presidency of the lower house.

Kevin McCarthy (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)
Kevin McCarthy (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein) (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/)

Yet while Trump explicitly called on his so-called supporters to back McCarthy on Wednesday morning, none of the 20 House Republicans who opposed McCarthy the day before — all from the party’s so-called MAGA wing — caved to the Trump’s call.

That was even after Trump phoned McCarthy’s Republican critics and asked them to “stop,” Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert said in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, when she nominated Florida Republican Byron Donalds for president instead.

In a moment of rare public defiance of Trump’s wishes, Boebert said Trump needed to, instead, “tell Kevin McCarthy ‘Sir: He doesn’t have the votes and it’s time to retire.’”

As Trump struggled to exert his influence, several would-be Trump rivals in the upcoming presidential primaries offered their own brand of remote-controlled leadership.

The Governor of New Hampshire, chris sununuwho won a strong re-election victory in November, criticized the Republican-led House.

“Should we really be surprised that a bunch of assholes in Congress are holding things up? Of course not,” Sununu wrote in a statement.

The Governor of Maryland, Larry Hoganwho is expected to launch his candidacy for the White House after he leaves office at the end of this month, used the moment to highlight his own executive leadership.

“Republicans are hungry for a main course of conservative results from the new majority in Washington, as Republican governors are already doing, but all they’re getting is a handful of mixed nuts,” Hogan said. “It is time to leave this circus behind and show the country that we can govern with competence and common sense.”

Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, another potential Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential race, said his party’s fight to elect a new president was a relatively typical challenge for the party not in the White House.

“We need to have this fight in public. We need to have it out loud. And then we have to figure it out,” Christie said in an interview. “This is what happens when you’re a party out of power that doesn’t have a clear national leader.”

No matter how quickly the presidential race is decided: the vacuum of broader GOP leadership will persist for the foreseeable future.

Christie noted that the upcoming presidential primary season — which will run over the next year and a half — will be designed to determine the next generation of Republican leadership.

“By the time we get to the convention in July 2024, I suspect that will be resolved,” Christie said.

But Gingrich, a longtime Trump ally, warned thate leadership battle could have lasting ramifications and lead the rank and file to wonder why they donated money to Senate and House candidates “to end this mess.”

“I think the members of the House of Representatives are doing substantial damage to the Republican Party and they don’t even realize it,” Gingrich lamented.

(With information from AP)

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