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HomeworldRudderless Republicans begin new search for US House speaker

Rudderless Republicans begin new search for US House speaker

After floundering for weeks to pick a new speaker for the US House of Representatives, Republicans will hear Monday (Oct 23) from nine fresh candidates vying to fill the leadership void that has paralysed Congress.The stakes of the crisis could hardly be clearer, with a headless House butting up against the deadline to address a government shutdown and unable to act on an emergency aid package requested by President Joe Biden to help Israel and Ukraine.Nine second-tier hopefuls – all men, and eight of them white – will make their pitches at an evening “candidate forum” as the best option to unify the fractured conference, which is in its 20th day without a leader after deposing speaker Kevin McCarthy.But none looked close to the near-total Republican support needed to win the required 217 votes on the House floor and the sheer size of the massive field will make it even tougher for a unifier to emerge.”This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen,” Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul, who was first elected in 2005, told ABC News on Sunday.  “Because if we don’t have a speaker of the House, we can’t govern. And every day goes by, we’re essentially shut down as a government.”It appeared last week that Trump ally Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had momentum but his bid for the gavel collapsed after he lost three straight House floor votes by increasingly large margins.When the party asked in a secret ballot if Jordan should remain the nominee, his opponents increased from 25 to more than 100 – far more than the detractors blocking House number two Steve Scalise, the original choice to replace McCarthy.

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‘CRITICAL MOMENT’

In a field lacking household names, the clubhouse favourite is now majority whip Tom Emmer, the Republican number three, who is respected as a valuable fundraiser and is the establishment choice.But allies of former president Donald Trump are vehemently opposed to the Minnesota Republican, who is among only two of the nine speakership candidates who voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory and is seen as insufficiently loyal.Trump – who backed Jordan – told reporters ahead of a campaign event in New Hampshire that he had spoken to Emmer over the weekend, but did not plan to endorse him.”I spoke to Mr Emmer, I spoke to a lot of congressmen. They called me up and they all called asking for support. And of course, I have to hold it for a while. I have a lot of friends that are looking at it right now,” Trump said.Underscoring the dysfunction plaguing the party, the crisis has left Congress unable to respond to Biden’s request for US$106 billion in emergency funding – mainly military aid for Ukraine and Israel in their wars with Russia and Hamas.And the government will shut down – with hundreds of thousands of workers sent home without pay – unless lawmakers can approve the 2024 federal budget by Nov 17.”At a critical moment when our allies are looking to us for leadership … House Republicans are making a mockery of our government and embarrassing the country on the world stage,” said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Sarafina Chitika.Hopefuls are slated for two-minute speeches at the candidate forum – a private, closed-door Republican meeting – followed by a 90-minute Q&A segment and one-minute closing speeches.They begin voting in secret ballots on Tuesday, with the lowest candidate eliminated each round until there is only one left. No House floor vote has yet been scheduled.

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