Cory Booker leads criticism of GOP House speaker turmoil: ‘We are in crisis right now’

In the two weeks since Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role of speaker, the House has been in session for less than nine hours

Rachel Sharp
Friday 13 October 2023 08:11 EDT
Steve Scalise ends bid for House Speaker after failing to win enough votes

The Republican Party is coming under intense criticism for plunging the US government into chaos as infighting continues to derail all hopes of appointing a new leader of the House of Representatives.

On Thursday night, hopes that the House would finally get a new speaker were dashed when the GOP nominee Steve Scalise suddenly dropped out of the race.

In a bombshell move, House Majority Leader Mr Scalise announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy, hitting out at the “agenda” of members of his own party.

“If you look over the last few weeks, if you look at where our conference is, there’s still work to be done,” he told reporters.

“Our conference has to come together and is not there. There are still some people that have their own agenda.”

His abrupt move came just one day after his party nominated him for the role, defeating the only other candidate, MAGA Republican Jim Jordan, in a narrow 113-99 vote.

But, after his win, the party failed to rally around him and it became clear that he wasn’t going to secure the votes to take the gavel.

Now that he has dropped out of the race, the party – and the House – is somewhat back to square one, with no clear leader at a time when the US is hurtling towards a government shutdown and a time of global unrest in Ukraine and Israel.

Several Democratic lawmakers and other critics were quick to hit out at the GOP for plunging the nation into yet more chaos.

Senator Cory Booker said that the US is “in crisis right now” because of the party’s inner turmoil and condemned the far-right faction of the GOP for “undermining the function of government”.

“This is a problem. We are in crisis right now in the county we have important issues we should be dealing with,” he said in an appearance on MSNBC.

Cory Booker leads criticism of GOP House speaker turmoil

“Resolutely supporting the effort in Ukraine. Resolutely standing with Israel helping it to aid in its defence in protection of its citizens an in the evacuation of Americans from Gaza.

“There are important issues we should be dealing, with not to mention running the government.”

He added: “To have this level of dysfunction amongst the House Republicans – and especially a small group of right-wing folks who are undermining the function of the government – this is very problematic at a terrible time going on in our world right now.”

MSNBC host Chris Hayes revealed his shock that the US has been thrown into this “totally unprecedented” situation.

“This is all totally unprecedented in American history. We haven’t had this before,” he said.

“It’s 100 years since we had a motion to vacate the chair. Amidst an unfolding global crisis, the second in line to the president and constitutional office of Speaker of the House remains vacant, with no clear path for this House Republican caucus to rally behind anyone for an election.”

Former US Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal questioned how the GOP can hope to run the country when they can’t resolve their infighting.

“This Party wants to govern America, yet they can’t even govern themselves,” he posted on X, sharing a link to an article about Mr Scalise’s exit from the race.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announces he is dropping out of race

Gun control activist Fred Guttenberg posted that Democrat Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries should take the gavel.

“A bipartisan solution is the only path forward. It is time for Speaker Hakeem Jeffries,” he said.

CNN reporter Kristin Wilson noted that in the two weeks since Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role, the House has been in session for less than nine hours – stalling the passage of bills for the American people.

“They’ve been in session a total of 8 hours and 39 minutes since McCarthy canceled recess two weeks ago tomorrow,” she posted on X.

Because of the Republican party split, a candidate can only afford to lose four Republican votes to pass the threshold of 217 votes.

Even after Mr Scalise won the nomination, several far-right MAGA lawmakers including Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene continued to say that they would not back Mr Scalise – and continued to throw their support behind Mr Jordan.

Ms Greene claimed that she wouldn’t vote for Mr Scalise due to his health issues.

The speaker seat has been empty since eight Republicans – led by Rep Matt Gaetz – joined Democrats to vote to remove Mr McCarthy from the speakership on 3 October.

Mr McCarthy had grown increasingly at odds with the far-right wing of the party – notably lead rebel and MAGA Republican Mr Gaetz.

Mr Gaetz had filed a motion to vacate the speaker in outrage that Mr McCarthy struck a deal with Democrats to avert a government shutdown – one that could have temporarily shuttered key services for American people and furloughed federal workers.

After Democrats declined to bail out the speaker and members of his own party turned on him, Mr McCarthy was removed in a 216-210 vote to vacate – marking the first time in American history that a speaker has been ousted by other lawmakers.

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