US House adjourns with no Speaker elected for first time in 164 years

The US House of Representatives has again adjourned for a third day without electing a new Speaker even after 11 votes, becoming the longest contest to select a person to take the gavel in 164 years.

The House will no convene on Friday noon, the second anniversary of the 2021 Capitol riot, reports Xinhua news agency.

Kevin McCarthy from California, the House Republican leader since 2019, fell short of the necessary votes to take the gavel in five more rounds of voting Thursday afternoon.

The House has voted 11 times since the 118th Congress convened on Tuesday, making it the longest speaker contest in 164 years.

Not since 1860, when the US’ union was fraying over the issue of slavery, has the lower chamber of Congress voted so many times to pick a Speaker.

Back then it took 44 rounds of ballots.

A group of 20 hard-line Republican lawmakers are refusing to give the California Congressman the necessary 218 votes.

The 435-seat lower chamber, where Republicans have a slim majority over Democrats, is unable to conduct any legislative business until a speaker is elected.

McCarthy has the support of most House Republicans and former President Donald Trump but the 20 hardliners have pressured him to decentralise the Speaker’s power.

All House Democrats have voted for Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, to be Speaker in the election.

Though it’s unlikely for Jeffries to attain the position, he is set to become the first African-American lawmaker to lead a party in either chamber of Congress.

In the November 8, 2022, midterm elections, Republicans won the House by a slender margin of 222 to 212 in the 435-seat chamber, while Democrats retained control of the Senate.

Earlier on Thursday, McCarthy was defiantin the face of the stiff headwinds, saying that he will continue to face opposition until he reaches a deal with his detractors.

“It’s all going to be this way until an agreement comes. It’s easier if we’re able to all get an agreement together,” he told CNN.

Asked the point he would make a realisation that the outcome won’t change, McCarthy told the network: “After I win.”

But one of the 20 dissidents, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, told the BBC that he simply does not trust McCarthy.

The Congressman said McCarthy’s team had threatened political retaliation against them if they did not fall in line, in the weeks leading up this deadlock.

“We were going to be thrown off committees… We’re going to lose every privilege we had. And we’d basically told them, ‘If we can’t ask questions, if we can’t vet out the most powerful person that we’re getting ready to put in office, then we’re out’,” he told the BBC.

The Speaker of the House is the second in line to the presidency, after Vice President Kamala Harris.

They set the agenda in the House, and no legislative business can be conducted there without them.

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