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House prepares to dive back into speaker fight as McCarthy fights back

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WASHINGTON — With a historic Republican gridlock that paralyzed Congress entering its third day, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was still battling for votes to become president on Thursday after losing a half-dozen consecutive votes for the office amid a right-wing revolt.

The House was due to return at noon and plunge back into the fight, having adjourned Wednesday night without a resolution as Mr McCarthy and his allies desperately negotiated with defectors to try to lock in support that had eluded him.

In a spectacle on the House floor not seen in 100 years, far-right lawmakers have repeatedly refused to back Mr. McCarthy, the party leader, who suffered three more humiliating defeats on Wednesday in a grim replay of three he endured. tuesday.

The episode again exposed Republican divisions, immobilizing the House and prolonging an ignominious departure from the new Republican majority, potentially foreshadowing an era of dysfunction and disarray.

Mr. McCarthy vowed to keep fighting, but there was little sign the impasse could be broken, and even a plea from former President Donald J. Trump for the party to unite around Mr. McCarthy fell flat.

The crisis – the first of its kind since 1923, when it took nine ballots to elect a speaker – has effectively stalled the functioning of the House, preventing lawmakers from being sworn in, postponing new rules to govern the chamber and making the legislature work impossible.

It also exposed the weakness of Mr McCarthy, who has cast himself as the heir apparent to the presidency and the person best suited to lead his party’s wafer-thin majority, raising serious questions about his ability to count the votes and control his unruly rank. -and-file.

With all elected members of the House present and voting, Mr. McCarthy must receive 218 votes to become president, leaving little room for Republican defections, as the party controls only 222 seats. He has consistently fallen well short of that level this week, getting no more than 203 votes even as his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, won 212, with all members of his party united behind him.

Mr McCarthy lost a fourth, fifth and sixth ballot on Wednesday, with the same 20 defectors who opposed him on Tuesday throwing their support for Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, who was just elected to his second term and was the first black man to be nominated by Republicans for the position.

Even as he and his allies sought to secure the votes he would need to secure a majority, Mr McCarthy was losing ground.

Still, his supporters ended Wednesday in a hopeful mood, suggesting further concessions Mr McCarthy had made in private would finally sway enough resisters to hand him the presidency. His political action committee struck a deal with the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group that opposed Mr McCarthy’s run for president, agreeing not to spend money supporting candidates in the open primaries in safe Republican seats.

It had been a major demand from the Tories, who were angered by the group’s efforts to support more mainstream candidates over far-right ones, although it was unclear whether the pledge would be enough to convince one of the rebels.

nytimes Gt

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