U.S. Congress fails to elect speaker for 9th time since Civil War

U.S. House of Representatives failed to elect a speaker for the ninth time since the Civil War

More than nine votes were last needed only in 1859, before the Civil War, at which time the Speaker was chosen in 44 votes. State Department saw the situation as a risk to congressional homeland security responsibilities

The U.S. House of Representatives failed for the tenth time to confirm Republican Kevin McCarthy as speaker, the length of the voting process surpassing the record set in 1923.

In 1923, Congressmen still elected Frederick Gillette for the ninth time, before which it took more than one vote only during the Civil War (1861-1865) in 1859, when it took 44 votes to confirm William Pennington. The record number of votes in the history of the U.S. Congress was Nathaniel Bunky, with members of the House of Representatives only agreeing to his nomination for Speaker on the 133rd time.

All told, the U.S. Congress has failed to elect a Speaker by the first ballot 15 times, including the current one. That said, almost all of these instances (13) occurred before the Civil War. The congressional website points out that party differences were more murky before the North-South conflict.

The State Department has suggested that the failure to elect a Speaker of the House could exacerbate concerns about the congressmen’s ability to carry out their responsibilities related to national security and foreign policy. The lack of an elected Speaker means that House members cannot take the oath of office, approve committees, and therefore participate in meetings on classified or confidential information with presidential administration officials, The Hill points out.

“The situation in which Congress cannot function is simply shameful. We are the greatest country in the world. How is this possible?” – President Joe Biden assessed what was going on after the sixth vote.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump urged Republicans to support McCarthy. He pointed out that the Republican Party managed to defeat Democrats in the House of Representatives during the last midterm elections. “Don’t turn a big triumph into a gigantic and upsetting defeat,” Trump advised.

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