Biden urges Republicans to ‘get act together’

WASHINGTON (Agencies): United States President Joe Biden has called on Republicans to “get their act together” and elect a speaker to the House of Representatives after the GOP majority failed to agree on a new leader to preside over the chamber. The country is practically without a functioning House for the first time in nearly 100 years after Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, fell short of securing a majority to become speaker in three different rounds of voting.
“It’s not a good look. It’s not a good thing. It’s the United States of America, and I hope they get their act together,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday before the House reconvened again. The US president also stressed that the crisis is a Republican issue. “That’s not my problem. I just think it’s really embarrassing it’s taking so long.” The previous House was dismissed on Tuesday. New members elected in the November midterm elections had convened to elect a new speaker, an effort ending with 20 members of the Republican caucus voting against McCarthy in the final ballot Tuesday.
Without a speaker to preside over it, the House is effectively paralysed, and new lawmakers cannot be sworn in; they still hold the title of representative-elect. Amid Republican infighting, Democrats unanimously united behind their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, on Tuesday. Legislators met once more on Wednesday to try to elect a speaker, but it remains unclear whether Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the chamber, have agreed on a leader. The House and the Senate make up Congress, the US legislative branch, which passes laws and allocates funds for the federal government among other essential tasks.
“The Republican Party in the House is deeply divided, and they have a number of members who not only don’t like their party’s nominee for speaker, but are willing to block that nominee on the floor – and in doing so, break a norm that has been followed for a century,” said Matthew Green, a professor of politics at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Many Democrats argued after the vote on Tuesday that the early crisis for the new House majority shows Republicans’ inability to lead. “The problem is…this isn’t just today. This is going to be everyday in the House Republican majority,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
“It’s not just that they won’t be able to govern. It’s that they are going to be an embarrassing public train wreck while they refuse to govern.” Jeffries – with Democrats united behind him – received more votes than McCarthy. In the third ballot, Jeffries had 212 votes, McCarthy 202 and Ohio Republican Jim Jordan 20. If all 434 members vote, a candidate would need 218 votes to reach the 50 percent to be elected speaker. If members abstain or vote present, then the number to reach a majority could change.
Jordan, a far-right firebrand, has said he is not seeking the speakership and voted for McCarthy himself. Despite the impasse, McCarthy – a California conservative who served as House minority leader for the past four years – has remained defiant. Asked by reporters late on Tuesday whether he will drop out of the race, McCarthy said, “I’ll let you know when that happens – OK – but it’s not going to happen.”