Republicans arrive without a clear candidate in the vote for president of the House of Representatives | International
It was another of those endless days in the Capitol. It was past nine o'clock this Tuesday night and the meetings of the two candidates to preside over the House of Representatives, Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Steve Scalise (Louisiana), with members of their party, the Republican Party, were still continuing to demand the votes that will allow them to succeed Kevin McCarthy. He speaker was removed in a historic vote last week: for the first time in 234 years, the position of third authority in the country and second in the presidential succession was left vacant after a motion of no confidence raised by a single man, Florida representative Matt Gaetz, and assumed by seven other members of the hardest wing, which plunged Congress into chaos and the United States into legislative paralysis.
Republicans are called for a round of secret ballots this Wednesday morning. If one of the candidates obtains enough votes (217) his candidacy will be taken to the plenary session, where it is expected that the Democrats, who are in the minority (with 212 seats), will vote against any of the options. At the end of a day of intense proselytizing, declarations of intentions and various promises, everything was left up in the air. Asked by reporters in the hallways of the Capitol, many were still undecided about which of their own they intend to promote.
This past weekend's unprecedented Hamas attack and Israel's subsequent declaration of war have added pressure to the institutional crisis in Washington. Gaetz's somewhat nihilistic ordeal could not come at a worse time for United States international policy. With Congress closed, unable to discuss or vote on anything until a new one is elected speaker, Conservative legislators, many of whom ran these days to show solidarity with Israel, have their hands tied to advance any measure, even symbolic. At least 14 of his compatriots remain kidnapped by Hamas militias in the Gaza Strip.
The clock is ticking: military aid to Ukraine is frozen and November 17 is on the horizon, the day on which the extension signed with the Democrats to avoid a partial closure of the Administration expires. That was the compromise that cost McCarthy his job. He could be voted on as soon as tomorrow. It is also possible that the agony lasts for several days. Republicans will wait until they are sure they have a viable candidate. They want to avoid the spectacle they offered last January, when it took 15 votes, another case with hardly any precedent, for the previous president of the House to succeed. To ensure this, they have altered the rules. Until now, it was enough for someone to obtain 50% of the votes in a secret party vote for their name to be brought to the floor. With the change, that threshold goes to 217, which will allow them to settle their differences behind closed doors and not in public.
Turn to the right
The only thing clear at this point is that both the election of Jordan and that of Scalise would mean a shift to the right of the party with respect to the direction set by McCarthy, who announced last week that he would not run again for the position, but This Monday he added more emotion by saying that he would be willing to return if his teammates asked him to. Several moderate congressmen maneuvered on Tuesday to gather support for his candidacy. Gaetz reacted to that possibility on Twitter / X, with a message in which he doubted that they would be enough. “It's time to move on,” he said. McCarthy himself insisted to reporters: “Two people show up. "I'm not one of them."
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Jordan has obtained the public support of Donald Trump, whose figure continues to have enormous influence in the party, but above all, he retains a stainless spell over around a third of the voters, essential for any of his own who wants to reconquer the House. White. The support of the former president was not a surprise: Jordan is a convinced Trumpist and collaborated with his attempts to reverse the legitimate electoral result after his defeat in the 2020 elections, a defeat that the magnate and more than likely candidate of his party in 2024 continues. refusing to accept.
The congressman from Ohio “knew more about what was being prepared for January 6 [de 2021]than any other member of the House of Representatives,” said his former colleague in the Republican ranks Liz Cheney last week, who participated in the bipartisan commission that investigated the attack on the Capitol for a year and a half. In the report presented at the end of these works, Jordan's name appears 22 times, some of them in incriminating passages. The idea that a sympathizer of that maneuver that sought to interrupt the Congressional process of the transfer of power to Joe Biden could end up directing it arouses the suspicions of the moderate wing.
Scalise, for his part, gathered support on Tuesday from some centrist members, as well as representatives from undecided districts. The spectacle put on by the Republicans over the past week has the potential to alienate unconvinced voters, those who sometimes vote Democrat and other times Republican. Until McCarthy's departure, Scalise was his second in command, although the disagreements between the two were manifest.
Both have promised to resolve the threatened government shutdown in a lasting way, although it is not yet clear how they intend to achieve this. And Jordan has said that the money destined for Ukraine, frozen since before the ouster of the speaker from last week, will be sent to Israel if he is elected.
In a speech this Tuesday from the White House, President Joe Biden assured that the United States will guarantee that Israel will be able to defend itself “as we have always done.” But for that, you need a functioning Congress. And she doesn't have it all with her
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