Republican Kevin McCarthy is proving his endurance in the bitter power struggle for the top post in the US Parliament. After more than ten ballots without a majority, the 57-year-old does not want to leave the field as a loser. On Friday afternoon (local time), the House of Representatives wanted to meet again for a session, while at least one more vote on the chairmanship of the House of Representatives was expected.
"I think there's a little bit of movement, so we'll see," McCarthy said last. Right-wing rebels within the party have been refusing to follow him for days, despite the support of ex-President Donald Trump. According to US media, however, an agreement could be in the offing.
The Washington Post reported that several opponents were close to agreeing to an agreement and voting for McCarthy. However, it is unclear when exactly this will happen. It was therefore also expected that McCarthy would not get all the necessary votes in a vote on Friday - but at least some rebels could give up their blockade. Republicans have a slim majority in the chamber. As a result, McCarthy would need almost all the votes of his party colleagues to be elected to the powerful post, which is third in the national hierarchy after the president and vice president.
Concessions to the point of blackmail
The 57-year-old had recently been more and more accommodating to his opponents and thus made himself vulnerable to blackmail. The radical party rebels, many of whom are ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump, are demanding, among other things, that internal rules of procedure in Congress be changed. With these adjustments, their power in Parliament would be strengthened. "Above all, McCarthy's most stubborn opponents seem intent on bringing him down," said the New York Times. Many of them seem to enjoy the attention - they trundle through the US talk shows and make a show out of their blockade.
Despite further concessions, 20 Republicans stubbornly voted for alternative candidates from their party on Thursday. They exposed McCarthy and denied him an election victory. Another Republican representative abstained. The longer the power struggle drags on, the more likely it is that McCarthy will lose support within his own ranks. According to observers, he has to win over some rebels in further votes to show that there is at least some movement in the deadlock.
The Republican faction leader repeatedly downplayed the internal revolt against him and rejected allegations that the uprising in his own ranks was weakening him. Referring to the historical scope of the drama, he said, "I like making history." He also holds the record for the longest speech in the House of Representatives.
It's not quite enough for a voting record
The current vote for the top job is already one of the longest in US history. Not since the 19th century has it taken the members of the House of Representatives as many attempts to elect a new leader as it does now. The last time there were more ballots was only in 1859/1860. At that time, Republican William Pennington was only elected chairman of the Chamber of Congress in the 44th ballot. The process took several weeks at the time.
How long the tugging will last this time is completely unclear. It has been dragging on since Tuesday: the House of Representatives had met there for its inaugural session after the general election in November. Republicans regained control of the Congress Chamber, albeit by a narrow margin. But instead of demonstrating its newfound political strength, the party threw the Chamber into chaos and brought the work of Parliament to a standstill. Because until the presidency is clarified, nothing works in the House of Representatives: the chamber cannot start its work. Not even those with new MPs can be sworn in. Legislative work is out of the question.
The chaotic conditions in American democracy come at a time when the country is remembering the unprecedented attack on the US Capitol. The brutal attack on the seat of parliament marked the second anniversary on Friday.
On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters violently stormed the Congress building in the capital Washington. Congress met there to formally confirm the victory of Democrat Biden in the presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters in a speech that he had been deprived of a victory by massive election fraud. Five people died as a result of the riots.