Younger (average age 46 in the Chamber and 50 in the Senate), more inclusive (record of Latinos, first native-born senator in almost two decades) but also more divided. The new US Congress, the 118th, took office today with the traditional swearing-in ceremony, the welcome to the freshmen and the first knot to face after the era of the iconic
Nancy Pelosi, welcomed back, in the guise of a simple deputy, with a bipartisan standing ovation: the appointment of her successor, after the Grand Old party reconquered the Chamber in Midterm with a narrow majority (222 to 212, one seat is vacant), while the dem kept the Senate with an extra seat.
But in the vote for the speaker, the third office in the state, the Republicans presented themselves divided, with a group of deputies from the more radical and Trumpian wing determined to block the way for 57-year-old Californian Kevin McCarthy. Five irreducible ‘No Kevin’, who accuse him of not being conservative enough or of having personal frictions with him: enough to prevent the quorum of 218 votes, given that the 212 dem supported their flag candidate Hakim Jeffries together, first African-American leader in the House. The five voted for Arizona’s ultra-conservative rival Andy Biggs, who was later supported by as many party colleagues, while 9 voted for
voted for other candidates: a package of 19 votes that was also missing in the second vote and which rose to 20 in the third, where the frond coalesced on the ‘hawk’ Jim Jordan.
The failed election in the first round – followed by two more flops – is an embarrassing and humiliating failure, which also worries party donors: it has happened only 14 times in Republican history, including 13 times before the Civil War and the last time in 1923 , when it took nine ballots to re-elect Republican Frederick Gillett. At the time Gillett met opposition from the left wing of the party. Now it’s the other way around.
Mathematics has forced McCarthy to maneuver with prudence but also with ambiguity, so as not to alienate anyone. Including George Santos, the new MP from New York overwhelmed by accusations of having falsified his curriculum vitae and now also under investigation in Brazil for fraud after the theft of a check book. Numerous concessions have already been made to the right-wing patrol, but for now it has not been enough: returning the positions in the commission to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar (revoked by the dem because they had embraced violent rhetoric), reducing to five the number of deputies who can ask for the distrust of the speaker, launch investigations into the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the migrant crisis on the border with Mexico (with the possible impeachment of the interior minister), the management of the pandemic (with Anthony Fauci in the crosshairs) and Hunter Biden’s affairs , the president’s son.
According to some media, he also gave the green light to a commission investigating the “armed government”, i.e. the use of the FBI, the Justice Department (for example against Trump), the IRS (the taxman) as a weapon. All investigations that risk paralyzing the dem agenda and hindering the awaited re-nomination of Joe Biden, now forced to bipartisan agreements, even if in the countryside he will always be able to shift the blame to his opponents in the event of legislative paralysis. Whatever happens (in the meantime the quotations as an alternative candidate of the Italian-American deputy Steve Scalise are growing), the handful of Trumpian deputies has already won, ensuring with their showdown increased visibility, interdiction and conditioning power on the legislative agenda and party investigation.
McCarthy risks remaining hostage to this front, under the constant threat of revolt: the same scenario that led to the premature resignations of the two previous GOP speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan. And the party risks seeing the image of extremism that damaged Republicans in Midterm strengthened, especially in the swing states that will decide the next presidential elections: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona.
Kevin McCarthy also lost in the third ballot for Speaker of the House. The numbers are getting worse for him: the 212 dem on their leader Hakim Jeffries are compact, while McCarthy has lost a further vote stopping at 202, with 20 preferences to the ‘hawk’ Jim Jordan (who however supports him). There were 19 votes against in the previous ballots. Meanwhile, the quotations of the Italian-American deputy Steve Scalise are growing.
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US Congress swears in, Trumpians block McCarthy in the House – World
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