Republican Kevin McCarthy continued his series of defeats in the power struggle for the most powerful post in the US Parliament. The House of Representatives continued Wednesday with the election for the chair of the Congress Chamber, but McCarthy was also unable to assert himself in another ballot.
At first there was no solution in sight to the impasse that had thrown Congress into chaos. An appeal by ex-President Donald Trump to his party colleagues to end the drama and vote for McCarthy went unheeded. US President Joe Biden called the election debacle "embarrassing".
On Tuesday, McCarthy had already missed the required majority in the election for the chairman of the parliament three times because various party colleagues refused to support him. For the 57-year-old, this is a historic defeat and a public exposure. 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.
Trump calls on Republicans to vote for McCarthy
On Wednesday, Trump intervened and called on his party colleagues to avoid losing face and elect McCarthy to the post. Speaking on social media platform Truth Social, which he co-founded, the ex-president wrote: "We had some really good conversations last night and now it's time for all of our great Republicans to vote for Kevin."
He appealed to his party colleagues: "Don't turn a great triumph into a huge and embarrassing defeat." McCarthy will do a good job, "and maybe even a great one."
Trump had already expressed his support for McCarthy before the election, but this did not prevent the campaign against him. His renewed appeal failed to impress the party's internal rebels, which is yet another sign of Trump's waning influence within the Republican Party.
In the fourth ballot on Wednesday, as on the previous day, 20 Republicans again refused to support their party colleague McCarthy. So there was no movement whatsoever. This time, Republican Congressman Chip Roy sent his party colleague Byron Donalds as a candidate in the race, behind whom McCarthy's opponents gathered. In addition, one Republican representative abstained. McCarthy lost another vote. Already on Tuesday, the anti-McCarthy camp put forward several alternative candidates - as a sign of their resistance.
The Chamber of Congress followed directly with a fifth ballot. However, it was not foreseeable that McCarthy could have success there.
Biden calls Republican election drama embarrassing
Biden criticized the Republican election drama in the Congress Chamber. "It's not my problem, I just find it a bit embarrassing that it's taking so long and how they treat each other," said the President in Washington. The rest of the world is watching. "I'm focused on getting things done," the Democrat said.
During a visit to the state of Kentucky afterwards, Biden conspicuously emphasized the need for bipartisan cooperation and embodied close ties with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who resides in Kentucky and attended Biden's visit.
After the parliamentary elections in November, Congress met for the first time in a new constellation on Tuesday. The Republicans took control of the House of Representatives - in the Senate, Biden's Democrats still have a narrow majority. In the coming years, Biden will therefore be more dependent than before on cooperation with the Republicans, since they can block legislative projects at will with their majority in the House of Representatives. However, it is unclear whether there will even be a common line among them in view of the complete internal disorganization.
First of all, nothing works
In view of the election debacle, nothing is going on in the House of Representatives for the time being. Until the presidency is clarified, the Chamber of Congress cannot begin its work, not even the new MPs can be sworn in.
McCarthy could 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 a majority of Republicans could agree on. Talks with the Democrats about a consensus candidate that they would support would also be conceivable. A way out was initially unclear.