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'It makes us look foolish': Republicans admit speaker brouhaha is hurting their party

The House of Representatives is at a standstill because the new GOP majority failed to elect a speaker.

By Emily Singer - January 04, 2023
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Matt Gaetz
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 3: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol before a vote in which House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not receive enough votes to become Speaker, on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

A growing number of Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that their inability to elect a House speaker is damaging their party.

“As long as we’re fighting each other, we are not keeping our eye on the prize,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a Fox News appearance on Tuesday. “And I think we have to get the speakership settled and we have to go forward if we’re gonna be successful in 2024 as a united party. And right now this exemplifies exactly what the Democrats want to see from our party.”

On Tuesday, House Republicans failed to elect a speaker after 19 members refused to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The conference nominated him for the role in November.

Tuesday’s vote marked the first time in 100 years that the speaker election was not settled on the first ballot. As of Wednesday morning, there had been three ballots in which McCarthy had failed to secure the majority of votes needed to be elected speaker. In the first two ballots, McCarthy lost 19 Republican votes. On the third, he lost 20.

“It makes us look foolish,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said on Fox News on Tuesday. “If I didn’t know any better, it’s like the Democrats paid these people off.”

Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-FL) told CNN the ongoing fight over the speakership is “hurting the party”: “The first impression that we’re giving the American people is that we don’t have our house in order.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is often a thorn in the side of GOP leadership, condemned her colleagues for blocking McCarthy’s bid.

“If the base only understood that 19 Republicans voting against McCarthy are playing Russian roulette with our hard-earned Republican majority right now,” Greene tweeted, referencing the fact that if Republicans cannot agree on a speaker it could give Democrats an opening to form a “coalition government” in which Republicans and Democrats would share power. “This is the worst thing that could possibly happen.”

Democrats were quick to point out the chaos Republicans have created with their inability to choose a speaker. Until a speaker is elected, new members cannot be sworn in and business cannot be done.

“The infighting on display today isn’t just a shame for Republicans, it’s bad for the entire country,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) tweeted. “Without a Speaker, we can’t be sworn in or cast any votes … i.e. do our jobs. The lesson here is that when political parties cater to their extremes, the American people suffer.”

The House will meet again on Wednesday, at which time Republicans will again try to come to an agreement and choose a speaker.

However, it’s unclear whether McCarthy can convince enough of the GOP holdouts to switch their votes. With Republicans’ slim majority, McCarthy cannot afford to lose more than four votes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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