Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed to become House Speaker on a day of unprecedented political drama in Congress.
The House adjourned Tuesday without a speaker for the first time since 1923.
The new Congress was meant to be a victory lap for the GOP after November’s elections. McCarthy faced an internal uprising and made history for all the wrong reasons.
It’s uncertain how the California congressman can win when the House votes again on Wednesday. They’ll vote till someone wins.
Analysts warn that even if McCarthy succeeds, the instability on the House floor foreshadows two years of moderate and right-wing Republicans at war.
Mr. McCarthy missed the 218-vote threshold in three straight votes. Despite having 222 members, 19 hard-right Republicans opposed him. They loathe McCarthy ideologically and personally, but see a chance to leverage the GOP’s tiny majority to exact concessions from him.
What are McCarthy’s options now?
Washington onlookers are speculating on how this will end. Their forecasts to the BBC varied from conceivable (Mr McCarthy wins but is weakened) to completely probable (he bows out and backs his second in command, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana).
One idea was fantastical (five Republicans decide to vote for Mr Jeffries, a Democrat, and deliver him control of the House).
Ruth Bloch Rubin, a partisanship expert at the University of Chicago, says McCarthy is “basically slave to one wing of his party.”
McCarthy has vowed not to make additional compromises, but he may have to. He might offer politicians prestigious committee positions or leadership responsibilities.
It’s uncertain whether Wednesday’s fourth meeting will break the impasse.