After a series of defeats for Republican Kevin McCarthy in the US Congress, the power struggle for the highest office in the House of Representatives will enter the next round this Thursday. The US Parliament voted on Wednesday evening (local time) to adjourn the session to Thursday noon (6 p.m. CET). Previously, McCarthy had missed the required majority for the election as chairman of the Chamber of Congress in six ballots over two days. It is completely open whether the 57-year-old will be able to unite his opponents in the party behind him by the next meeting.
In the evening things got exciting again in the House of Representatives. After a break of several hours, the deputies came together again. McCarthy had previously negotiated behind the scenes - apparently without success. "I don't think a vote tonight will change anything, but I think a vote in the future will change something," he said after the talks. Probably to avoid another embarrassment in a seventh vote and to gain time, a McCarthy confidant requested that the evening session be adjourned. However, the Democrats opposed the project. Only at the last moment was the motion passed by a razor-thin Republican majority.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, several Republicans refused to support their party colleague McCarthy and voted for other candidates in the election for the presidency. 20 Republicans rallied behind opposition candidate Byron Donalds in Wednesday's ballot. McCarthy's opponents had nominated the Republican. With Republicans holding a narrow majority in the House of Commons, McCarthy needs almost every vote in his party to be elected leader. He was opposed by ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump.
He finally switched on on Wednesday and called on his party colleagues to avoid losing face and to elect McCarthy to the top post. He had previously supported the Republican from the US state of California. About McCarthy's opponent Donalds, the ex-president wrote on the network Truth Social, which he co-founded: "His time will come and it will be great, but not now!" But Trump's appeals came to nothing. "His party responded with a collective shrug," wrote the Washington Post. The former president and his support for McCarthy were basically "irrelevant".
The irritation within the leadership of the "Grand Old Party" could be felt in the very lively debates. The failed elections are a debacle for the opposition Republicans, who have a majority in the new House of Representatives. The Conservatives have 222 of the 435 MPs, the Democrats have 213 seats.
For McCarthy, the series of defeats is a historic defeat and a public embarrassment. It is the first time in a hundred years that the election has required more than one attempt and that a parliamentary group has not elected its candidate to office in the first round. It is unclear how and if McCarthy intends to convince his opponents before the next vote. Republican Scott Perry said voting could stretch into the weekend. Until the presidency is clarified, nothing happens in the House of Representatives: Not even the new MPs can be sworn in. US President Joe Biden called the Republican struggle "embarrassing". "And the rest of the world is watching," Biden said.
McCarthy's opponents include MPs who are firmly behind Trump and have been known for their extreme behavior in the past and who have spread conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 presidential election. One of them is 36-year-old Lauren Boebert, a gun nut who narrowly defended her seat in the Colorado state legislature in the midterm elections. Other opponents are Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz. Gosar defended the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Gaetz repeatedly made fun of measures to fight the corona virus.
Actually, the MP Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known for conspiracy theories, also belongs to this group. She has been openly critical of McCarthy in the past but has stood firmly behind him so far. The reason may be that this should have promised her important posts and more power in the group. Greene was often seen at his side during the votes. On the other hand, she aggressively attacked her former Trump allies from the far right on Twitter.
McCarthy could now possibly try to start negotiations with the Democrats. They could help him win the elections by abstaining in their ranks, for example, because that would reduce the number of votes needed. It would also be possible for a new candidate to be put forward that the Republicans could agree on. Talks with the Democrats about a consensus candidate that they would support would also be conceivable. So far, however, a way out is completely unclear.