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US Congress sinks into paralysis, unable to elect a “speaker”

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Favorite to replace Nancy Pelosi at the perch, Republican Kevin McCarthy is hanging on the goodwill of about twenty elected Trumpists who accuse him of being too moderate and deliberately playing spoilsport.

Members of the most conservative fringe of the party, they take advantage of the very thin Republican majority won in the mid-term elections in November to set their conditions. Without their support, Kevin McCarthy cannot be elected.

America wants “a new face, a new vision, a new leadership”, argued the turbulent elected representative of Texas Chip Roy from the hemicycle on Wednesday.

Kevin McCarthy, a member of the Republican general staff for more than ten years, has already acceded to many of this group’s demands, without this allowing the situation to be unblocked. Worse, opposition to his candidacy seemed to crystallize.

“Embarrassing”

After six unsuccessful votes since Tuesday, the elected officials agreed to suspend their debates until Thursday noon, local time (5 p.m. GMT).

The election of the “speaker”, the third most important figure in American politics after the president and the vice-president, requires a majority of 218 votes. Kevin McCarthy has so far failed to exceed 203.

The elected representative of California does not have a credible competitor. Only the name of group leader Steve Scalise is circulating as a possible alternative, without his chances seeming serious.

Democratic President Joe Biden called this situation “embarrassing”, assuring that “the rest of the world” was closely following the mess in Congress.

This blockage has very concrete repercussions: without a president, elected officials cannot take an oath, and therefore pass any bill. “We have work to do and which we cannot tackle”, denounced the elected Republican Mike Gallagher.

Republicans also cannot open the numerous investigations they had promised against Joe Biden.

Annoyance was beginning to be felt in the staff of the “Grand Old Party”, giving rise to very lively debates in the hemicycle.

Trump’s call not heard

On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump came out of the woodwork, urging the group of free spirits to fall into line. But the former president, whose reputation as a kingmaker has been seriously questioned in recent months, has also failed to convince them.

A situation that the Democrats observe with a certain amusement, between smirking and applause to their Republican colleagues. Joe Biden’s party is united around the candidacy of leader Hakeem Jeffries, but the elected official does not have enough votes to be elected to the perch either.

Elected officials will continue to vote until a Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected. This was to be a matter of a few hours, but could extend over several weeks: in 1856, the elected members of Congress only agreed after two months and 133 turns.

Facing a hostile but messy House could prove to be a political boon for Joe Biden, if he confirms his intention to run again in 2024 – a decision he is due to announce earlier this year.

Anxious to put on his favorite costume of centrist president, fond of compromise, the Democratic president went to Kentucky on Wednesday to praise the construction of a new large bridge financed by a law that he carried, and which had collected few Republican votes in Congress.

Coincidentally, he was accompanied by the leader of the Republicans in the other chamber of the American Congress… the tenor of the Senate Mitch McConnell.

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