Republicans on Tuesday made their fourth election in just two weeks to replace the ousted speaker of the US House of Representatives, underscoring the chaos in which the fragmented party is mired after three previous candidates failed to gain ground.
Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson won an internal party vote, conference President Elise Stefanik said.
The House of Representatives has been paralyzed since the October 3 impeachment of the previous leader, Kevin McCarthy, due to a rebellion by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
In an attempt to end the crisis, this Tuesday the Republicans, with a majority in the lower house, agreed to appoint Tom Emmer, the most moderate of those running for office, but he, aware of the reluctance of some Trumpists to support him in a plenary session, he preferred to resign after a few hours.
As it is, Congress, supposedly one of the most powerful in the world, has not been able to vote on any bill since October 3.
And this in a tense context: they have until November 17 to agree on a budget if they want to avoid the partial closure of the United States federal administration, which would force hundreds of miles of workers to temporarily stay at home without salary.
On the international front they have two pending issues.
Without a leader, the House of Representatives cannot agree to President Joe Biden's request to unlock more than $100 billion in emergency funds, especially for military aid for Israel and Ukraine.
"This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen," Republican Foreign Relations Committee leader Michael McCaul told ABC News on Sunday.
«Because if we do not have a president of the House, we cannot govern. And with each passing day, we are basically closed as a Government," he added.
Everything seems to indicate that Johnson will be affected by the same internal divisions that have left the party unable to unite around a leader.
Johnson, a conference vice president but a relative political novice, lost to Emmer early in the day but quickly jumped back into the ring after his leadership colleague withdrew.
None of the candidates competing for the nomination this Tuesday had much leadership experience.
Emmer is a Trump supporter but some Trumpists consider him disloyal for having voted in favor of certifying Biden's victory in the 2020 election.
Only 117 colleagues voted for him in the final round this Tuesday, according to the American press, and 97 preferred his rival Mike Johnson.
If Johnson has succeeded where his colleagues have failed, he will be the least experienced speaker in more than a century, having never chaired a committee or played a leadership role.
And he could find himself presiding over a government shutdown in three weeks, unless he can reach a deal on the 2024 budget with much more experienced negotiators in the White House that is acceptable to his party.
Republicans have a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, so the candidate can only afford to have a maximum of four colleagues turn their backs on him in the plenary session vote.