President Joe Biden on Wednesday decried House Republicans’ failure to elect a Speaker and begin regular business, telling reporters at the White House that the dysfunction reflects poorly on the United States.
Speaking just outside the White House residence before he departed aboard Marine One for an event in Kentucky, Mr Biden said the spectacle in the lower chamber is “embarrassing” because it is taking so long for the House to begin doing business.
“It’s a little embarrassing it’s taking so long, and the way they are dealing with one another,” he said.
He added that the House’s failure to chose a speaker on the first day of the 118th Congress — the first time in a full century that no candidate has garnered support from a clear majority of members on the first roll call vote — was “not a good look” and “not a good thing”for the US.
“I hope they get their act together,” he said, before noting that “the rest of the world is looking” at the out-of-control scene that erupted on the House floor on Tuesday, even as he remains focused on “getting things done” for the country.
The House is set to meet at noon to resume voting on who will be Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress. The Republican leader for the previous few congresses, California Representative Kevin McCarthy, failed to reach the 218-vote threshold he needed to claim the gavel on three separate voice votes after the House was called to order on Tuesday.
On the first two votes, Mr McCarthy recieved 203 votes from his fellow Republicans but saw defections from 19 of his GOP colleagues, 15 votes over the four votes he could lose and still have majority support.
On the third vote, 20 of his colleagues supported Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, leaving him with just 202 votes. After Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma made a motion to adjourn until 12.00 pm on Wednesday, Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson gaveled the session to a close following a voice vote.
It’s unclear whether Mr McCarthy — or any of the 222 House Republicans — currently have enough support to earn the gavel, leaving it in doubt whether the 118th Congress can begin work. Without a Speaker, members cannot be sworn in and no one can be appointed to any committees, which in turn cannot hire staff or begin operations in any way.