Republicans in the United States House of Representatives are expected to choose their candidate for speaker after a three-week leadership vacuum left the House paralyzed and unable to vote on urgent funding for Israel and Ukraine.
The 221-member Republican majority in the House of Representatives gathered Tuesday morning for a closed-door vote on a nominee, a flashpoint issue that has divided mainstream and hardline party members. The party is expected to have eight candidates vying to win the speaker’s gavel, the most powerful position in the House after the presidency. Failure to find a speaker could lead to further unrest in the House of Representatives, which has a November 17 deadline to prevent a government shutdown.
Here’s what you need to know:
What triggered the crisis?
The House of Representatives has been without a speaker since Kevin McCarthy was ousted three weeks ago. McCarthy was unseated in a vote led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who accused him of conspiring with rival Democrats to push through a last-minute interim spending bill to narrowly avert a government shutdown.
Later power struggles failed because of the leadership candidates of two Republicans: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and prominent conservative Jim Jordan. The latter, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was dropped as a candidate last week, in part due to a tough campaign by his supporters that resulted in death threats.
It was even suggested that Trump himself might take the gavel, but the Republican presidential nominee said no one would be able to unite the party. “There is only one person who can do anything: Jesus Christ,” he told the AP.
The House of Representatives is currently led by interim Speaker Patrick McHenry. After rejecting Scalise and Jordan, the GOP now has to choose from a lesser-known group of candidates.
Who are the candidates?
On Monday evening, eight candidates made their pitches to the party and answered questions about how they would do the job.
The candidates include Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, a former hockey coach, Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, a former McDonald’s franchise owner, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a popular Trump ally, and Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana , a constitutional law expert.
Also in the running are Jack Bergman of Michigan, Austin Scott of Georgia, Pete Sessions of Texas and Gary Palmer of Alabama.
Emmer is currently leading the race. But it is thought McCarthy’s support of the lawmaker, who is said to have strong leadership skills and experience in campaign fundraising, could deter hardliners.
Gaetz and other Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy favor Hern, Donalds and Johnson.
What factors will determine the vote?
Gaetz’s hardline faction appears to reject any leader who voted for the budget deal McCarthy struck with Biden earlier this year. Many far-right Republicans disagreed with the level of federal spending and pushed for deeper cuts to federal programs. Funding for Ukraine, which was removed from the bill to secure the deal, also sparked divisions.
Many Republicans have said they will not support anyone supported by the opposition party. It remains to be seen whether this will change if the party fails to appoint a speaker in the coming days.
Given the narrow 221-212 majority in the House, it is not clear whether a Republican can get the 218 votes or a simple majority needed to claim the speakership.
But some lawmakers said the party may continue to vote and negotiate in camera until its next candidate secures Republican votes.
A vote in the House of Representatives is scheduled to take place later this week.
The federal government risks a shutdown within weeks if Congress does not pass a funding bill by Nov. 17 to keep services and offices operating.
More immediately, President Joe Biden has asked Congress to provide $105 billion in aid to help Israel and Ukraine and secure the U.S. border with Mexico. Federal aviation and agriculture programs will expire without action.
“We have to figure out how to get our act together,” Rep. Dusty Johnson told The AP.
“I mean, big boys and big girls need to stop making excuses and we just need to get it done.”
Source : www.aljazeera.com