Steve Scalise narrowly won a secret internal Republican ballot Wednesday to replace ousted speaker Kevin McCarthy, but it quickly became clear he couldn’t get the 217 lawmakers needed in a vote of the full House as his opponents in his own party lined up to announce they would not support him
The Republican nominee to lead the US House of Representatives dropped out Thursday after failing to find enough support to win a vote of the full chamber, plunging the paralyzed lower chamber of Congress deeper into crisis.Steve Scalise narrowly won a secret internal Republican ballot Wednesday to replace ousted speaker Kevin McCarthy, but it quickly became clear that he couldn’t get the 217 lawmakers needed in a vote of the full House as his opponents in his own party lined up to announce they would not support him.
“It’s been quite a journey, and there’s still a long way to go. I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee,” Scalise said.The announcement ended the party’s hopes for a moment of unity, prolonging a leadership vacuum that has prevented Congress from carrying out even its most basic functions for nine days since McCarthy’s unprecedented removal in a mutiny by right-wing lawmakers.
No speaker vote has been scheduled, but if every Democrat and Republican were present and casting ballots, any candidate would need 217 votes to prevail – a tall order in a party that has been riven by factional infighting.A second public tussle for the speakership – nine months after McCarthy’s marathon, 15-round battle to win the gavel – could hardly have come at a worse time for the Republican-controlled lower chamber of Congress.
The leaderless House has been unable to pass any bills or approve White House requests for emergency aid, with Israel – the top US ally in the Middle East – in a war footing against Hamas militants.Meanwhile lawmakers are staring down a looming government shutdown as they have only a month to agree on 2024 federal spending levels before the money runs out and have made no progress during the leadership crisis.
Scalise had been working frantically to win more backing as Republicans met at midday, although the discussion appeared to produce more skeptics rather than new support.“There is no consensus candidate for speaker. We need to stay in Washington till we figure this out,” Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna, who had endorsed Scalise, said in a social media post after the meeting.