Trump backs McCarthy as Republican hardliners block speaker appointment amid US House chaos

US News

Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind Kevin McCarthy to become the new House of Representatives speaker as chaos gripped the Republicans when hardliners blocked the appointment.

Republican bosses had planned to replace Democrat speaker Nancy Pelosi with party leader Mr McCarthy after wresting control of the House in the recent midterm elections

But the usually straightforward process was thrown into disarray on Tuesday when a group of right-wing Republicans put forward their own candidate, Jim Jordan.

The group’s support of Mr Jordan – who insisted he did not want the job – meant Mr McCarthy could not secure enough votes from his party to win the vote.

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It is the first time in 100 years that a nominee for House speaker failed to be appointed on the first vote.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R- Ohio, speaks on behalf of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for House Speaker on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Image:
Jim Jordan was put forward as an alternative

The group behind the rebellion – the ultraconservative Freedom caucus – are usually vocal backers of ex-president Mr Trump, who has previously backed Mr McCarthy for House speaker.

And in a post on his social media platform, Mr Trump repeated his support when he wrote: “It’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY.

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“DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”

Explainer:
Why the Republicans are struggling to pick a new House Speaker

However, figures including Florida representative Matt Gaetz have publicly spoken out against Mr Trump’s pick.

After three rounds of inconclusive voting, the House of Representatives adjourned without choosing a new speaker, blocking the House from carrying out its usual business until a new presiding officer is chosen.

Without a speaker, the House cannot fully form and cannot swear in its members, name its committee chairs and engage in floor proceedings.

Who is Kevin McCarthy and what are his goals if elected speaker?

Kevin McCarthy, 57, was first elected to Congress in 2006 and currently serves California’s 23rd district in the House of Representatives.

After winning $5,000 (£4,142) on a lottery scratch card at the age of 20, Mr McCarthy took all of his cash and parlayed it into the opening of a deli, putting himself through college.

Whilst studying at California State University, Bakersfield, he interned for Congressman Bill Thomas, later becoming part of his permanent staff.

After being elected to Congress he quickly became Chief Deputy Whip and later served as Majority Whip. In 2014, he was elected Republican leader in the House.

Back in 2015 he suddenly withdrew his name from the running for House speaker after resistance from the same kind of conservatives who have currently blocked his path on three ballots.

If elected speaker, Mr McCarthy has forecasted a strong focus on investigative efforts into the Biden administration under a Republican House majority.

Before the November midterms, he unveiled a “commitment to America” with four overarching goals: a strong economy, a safe nation, government accountability and freedom.

On foreign issues, Mr McCarthy has said he wants more oversight of the spending to support Ukraine as it defends against Russia’s nearly year-old invasion.

The House is scheduled to vote again at midday on Wednesday (5pm GMT), with Mr McCarthy insisting he will not drop out.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said when asked if he would back down.

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However, the rebels also showed no signs of ceding either, with Republican holdout Bob Good saying: “Kevin McCarthy is not going to be a speaker.”

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