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Struggle to elect House Speaker could point to further division of Republicans

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 23:19:12-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Friday night, the House of Representatives gathered for the 14th vote to name a new Speaker of the House.

“This is the ultimate defiance to the Republican Party as a whole and also to the business of being members of the U.S. Congress,” political analyst Dr. David Smith said.

"The radical right-wing within the party has hijacked the entire partyy and to some extent the entire congress," Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez said. "And it's preventing the people's work from getting done."

Voting on a 14th ballot makes this vote for Speaker of the House the longest one in over 150 years.

“I think the American people are frustrated and deserve to have a functional government,” Gonzalez said, the representative for District 34 of Texas.

"I've seen some things come out that say moderate, you know, long time Republican donors who are saying, what are you guys doing?" Smith said.

Smith believes many Americans are stupefied by what has gone on all week.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is confident he'll have the majority votes he needs Friday night. It's down to just a handful of Republicans who have opted not to support McCarthy, thus far.

Smith said those hold outs aren’t willing to compromise until their wants are met. Wants that they may feel will put them in an ideal political position.

“There’s not a current political leader out there that really aligns with these figures," Smith said. "And so, Kevin McCarthy is the lesser of the evils as they have identified him, but he’s still not good enough.”

Smith said these individuals have taken issue with McCarthy and his wavering support for some Republicans such as President Donald Trump.

McCarthy has been able to swing more votes on Friday, such as Texas District 27 Rep. Michael Cloud. McCarthy has made concessions for those votes, but Smith thinks some of those could be dangerous.

“He’s essentially made it to where one person can stand up for a vote of no confidence in the speaker’s rule. And if that’s the case, then one person can essentially throw out the leader of the chamber,” he said.

Meanwhile, all Democrats have stood behind New York Rep. Hakeem Jefferies.

"From the most conservative members of the Democratic Party, like myself and Henry Cuellar and a hand full of other blue dogs, to the progressives," said Gonzalez. "We are united we're ready to work. We all have ideas, and plans, and proposals."

Smith said you're crazy if you don't think Democrats are sitting back taking note of all of this, to use in future campaigns.

As for the future when a speaker is in place, both Gonzalez and Smith think this is a sign of what's ahead.

“You could anticipate that going forward the next two years, that anything their speaker does they’ll be against,” said Gonzalez.

“I think at some point there will be a fracture where they say you need to go your own way for the good of the Republican Party," said Smith. "Not because they don’t like their beliefs and their values, but because they’re not willing to work with the moderates and the core of the party itself.”

We reached out to Congressman Michael Cloud’s office for an interview, but did not hear back. Cloud did release a statement noting why he changed his vote in favor of McCarthy

"I came to Washington with the understanding that congress was broken and in desperate need of restoration.

For several months, we have had good faith negotiations with Republican leadership and members to make the generational change needed in Congress to restore the ability of members to represent the people and put our nation on the path toward fiscal responsibility.

These past four days, I have taken a stand and continued negotiations to ensure that the legislative process works for individual members and isn't dominated by Party Leadership. After days of debate on the House Floor, we have made major progress on the processes and reforms we've been fighting for. Final details are being worked out, but I have high hopes we will be able to get this done for the American People.

The reforms we've negotiated won't fix everything wrong with Washington. However, it will be a massive change in how the House operates and enables Members of Congress to truly represent their constituents."

The House will continue to vote until a candidate has the majority vote.

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