US House speaker’s gruelling path to being elected reveals a divided Republican party
In order to win, Republican Kevin McCarthy had to make multiple concessions to ultra-conservative members of his party, including allowing any single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust him.
WASHINGTON: Republican Kevin McCarthy might have been elected as the new speaker of the United States House of Representatives after a gruelling 15 rounds of voting, but the deep divisions within his party’s ranks are clear.
Mr McCarthy’s victory is unlikely to bring an end to the dysfunction on Capitol Hill.
In order to win, he had to make multiple concessions to around 20 ultra-conservative members of his party, including allowing any single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust him.
WHAT’S NEXT AFTER THE TOUGH SPEAKER FIGHT?
If the GOP’s internal divisions persist and continue to cause chaos, they may hamper the party’s prospects in next year’s presidential race, said observers.
“They have weakened him dramatically. He has a lot less power on controlling legislation, controlling how things passed, controlling what is in legislation,” said Washington Post Live anchor Leigh Ann Caldwell, who focuses on US politics, Congress and the White House.
“A lot of that is now out of his hands and if he doesn’t meet the demands, especially on government spending and restrictions on government spending made by these people on the far right of the political spectrum, then they have the ability to remove him as speaker.”
That could be dangerous not just for America, but for the world, said observers.
The demands Mr McCarthy agreed to mean that House Republicans may refuse to raise the amount of money the government can borrow, without extracting major policy concessions that Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden will be loath to agree to.
This means that the US could default on its loan payments, plunging the world into an unprecedented financial crisis.
GLOBAL RAMIFICATIONS OF A DIVIDED HOUSE
“It’s a horrible thought. But given the global ramifications and given the ramifications in markets, I think it’s unlikely,” said Dr Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow of the governance studies programme at the Brookings Institution.
“So my guess is, even if they did something like this, there would be such an immediate, such a dramatic reaction that they would have to get back together within a day and reverse themselves. Because nobody, no speaker of the House wants to be known, no Congress wants to be known for the Congress that wrecked the global economy. And that’s what it would do.”
There are other potential consequences for the rest of the world, including the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“So there’s going to be a lot of effort by those on the far right to either reduce spending to Ukraine or what they say is have more accountability of the money that is going to Ukraine,” said Ms Caldwell.
“It’s not going to be a blank cheque is what these Republicans say.”
However, there could be some chance for agreement on China’s rising economic influence.
Earlier this month, Mr McCarthy said: “As for the Chinese Communist Party, we will create a bipartisan select committee on China to investigate how to bring back the hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China, and then we will win this economic competition.”