WASHINGTON. President Joe Biden said that the failure of Republicans in the House of Representatives to unite around a speaker candidate, which prevented the House from starting its legislative work, was “shameful” and “ugly” for the country.
Speaking at the White House on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Kentucky for an event on last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Biden said of the Republicans, “I hope they hit the ground running.” Biden said “the rest of the world is watching” the chaotic scenes on the floor of the House of Representatives, but that his focus is on “achieving the goal.”
“That’s not my problem,” the Democratic president said of the speaker’s vote. “I just think it’s really embarrassing that it takes so long.” He declined to say if he had any choice for the speaker’s position, adding, “I have no idea” who would win.
House Republican nominee Kevin McCarthy of California failed to win the required majority in three ballots on Tuesday – the first time in a century a speaker was not selected on the first ballot. Elected members returned to the House on Wednesday for an additional vote.
A speaker is required to swear in potential members and start the chamber.
Also early Wednesday morning, former President Donald Trump tested his hold on Republicans in the House of Representatives by calling on every member to back Kevin McCarthy for speaker.
Trump posted a message to Truth Social just hours before the House’s fourth attempt to elect a speaker. McCarthy failed in his first three attempts to win the post on Tuesday, seeing his support dwindle by one in the final ballot. In that vote, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., switched his support to Rep. Jim Jordan, R.-Ohio, who, despite nominating McCarthy as speaker, received six votes on the first ballot, 19 on the second. and 20 in the second. third.
“[I]It’s time for all of our GREAT GOP members of the House of Representatives to vote for Kevin, make a deal and win,” Trump tweeted. REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT AND UPGRADING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!”
However, it is unclear whether the former president’s advice to Republicans in the House of Representatives will affect votes in favor of McCarthy. McCarthy left the room on Tuesday afternoon, 16 votes short of what was needed to win the popular vote, becoming the first majority leader in a century not to win a speaker’s seat on the first ballot.
The historic defeat halted the swearing-in of members, the appointment of a GOP committee, and the vote on a set of rules that would eventually govern the 118th Congress. Instead, Republicans in the House of Representatives showed their divisions throughout the day, in stark contrast to their close-knit Democratic counterparts across the aisle and even to the functioning Senate floor on the other side of the Capitol.
And even as McCarthy worked the phones from the speaker’s office after Tuesday’s recess, some of his opponents disagreed. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., wrote a letter to the architect of the Capitolasking, “How long will he stay there before he’s considered a squatter?”
“Please write a reply as soon as possible,” Gaetz added, “as it appears that Mr. McCarthy can no longer be considered speaker-designate after today’s vote.”
Trump, who launched an as yet unimpressive third run for president in November, declined to endorse McCarthy’s bid for speaker as early as Tuesday night in a short phone call to NBC News, telling a reporter, “We’ll see what happens next.” it happens. Let’s see how it all works out.”
This report contains contributions from the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.