Defeat for Kevin McCarthy: He was not elected Speaker of the House of Representatives even on the third attempt.
Chiara SchlenzEditor News
It was a public exposure for the Republican Kevin McCarthy (57): The Californian failed on Tuesday in the election as Chairman of the US House of Representatives, and in three attempts. But it was a defeat with announcement.
A small group of Republican hardliners who opposed the politician was decisive for his defeat. McCarthy only got 203 of 434 votes cast in the first round – he would have needed 218. 19 party colleagues refused to vote for him. Even on the second attempt, these 19 colleagues remained defectors, and on the third they even grew to 20.
The next round of voting in the House of Representatives begins on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Swiss time).
Why is this so spectacular?
For the first time since 1923, a designated leader is not elected by his own party in the first ballot. This makes it difficult to manage the situation – you cannot draw on previous experiences.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the most powerful person in the United States after the President and Vice President. As long as this post remains vacant, nothing will function in the lower chamber. It is all the more important that this happens soon.
“I don’t think a new speaker will be elected today,” suspects Martin Thunert (63), USA expert at Heidelberg University. But McCarthy won’t give up. But should the number of dissenters continue to grow, as happened between the second and third ballots, he will probably have to withdraw his application.
Then, according to Thunert, they will look for an alternative candidate from their own ranks who has more integration power – probably Steve Scalise from the state of Louisiana. The Democrats have no reason to bail out the Republicans. They rather believe that this chaos makes it clear to voters that the Republicans cannot govern efficiently, the expert suspects.
“But the more the future speaker, no matter what his or her name, has to make content and personal concessions to the current deviants within the party, the more disadvantageous this could be for the Biden government’s business,” warns Thunert. Because the more power these dissenters have, the more decisions can be blocked.
Why is this so problematic for Republicans?
That a small group of right-wing extremist politicians can hold the US Republicans hostage shows the deep rifts in the party. For them, the Californian is not combative enough in dealing with the democratic government.
The conflict between the hardliners and the faction majority has been smoldering for a decade, but this time, according to expert Thunert, there is a crucial difference: “Back then, the entire faction was significantly larger – 20 dissenters could not endanger the majority. Today the group of hardliners is no larger than it used to be, but because of the extremely narrow Republican majority, they are now tipping the scales.”
According to Thunert, a solution would be simple. “Republican hardliners are demanding parliamentary rule changes that would strengthen the group’s influence. Moderate Republicans have said they would only accept rule changes if it results in McCarthy’s election as speaker.” In other words: “You agree to the rule changes, in return 15-16 deviants agree to vote for McCarthy.”
But that won’t happen. Because: The hardliners are always clearly against McCarthy and will probably not make any admissions.
What is changing in foreign policy?
According to Thunert, not much will change in foreign policy. “There are relatively small groups among both the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Democrats who do not like the almost unconditional support of Ukraine by the United States.” The determination of the majority in Congress, in the population and above all in the White House to continue to support Ukraine, above all militarily, will not change in the near future.