Split Republicans held the U.S. House of Representatives speakership for a long and painful third day.
On a torturous series of votes on Thursday, party leader Kevin McCarthy was unable to secure enough GOP support to take the gavel of the chamber, leaving the House vacant.
In a protracted battle to select a speaker in a contentious election, McCarthy lost in the seventh, eighth, and then historic ninth, tenth, and eleventh rounds of voting, surpassing the number from a century before.
Republicans voted to adjourn by evening despite loud protests from Democrats, and they will try again on Friday.
McCarthy’s supporters and detractors were impressed, preventing the House from properly opening the new Congress session. and boredom, hopelessness, and irritation seemed increasingly evident.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a McCarthy opponent, gave his vote for Donald Trump, highlighting the significant differences within the Republican Party over its direction.
Then he took things a step further by formally nominating the former president to be speaker of the House on the eleventh ballot, turning the day from one of protest into one of absurdity.
Gaetz cast the lone vote for Trump, which caused hilarity.
Democrats declared that it was time to take things seriously as darkness fell on the day before the second anniversary of the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by Trump supporters attempting to reverse Joe Biden’s election.
Democratic Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado proposed Hakeem Jeffries as a speaker, stating that “this holy House of Representatives needs a leader.”
In the House chamber, McCarthy was observed having animated and hushed one-on-one chats.
The GOP whip’s office down the hall was the scene of arduous discussions as his representatives walked up to holdouts.
McCarthy tried convincing Republicans to stop the oppressive discussion that had marred his new GOP majority.
According to one of the opponents, conservative Republican Ralph Norman of South Carolina, as he left a late-day meeting, McCarthy’s leadership team had offered a core group of the Republican holdouts a written agreement for rules modifications in exchange for their support.
Although there were few specifics, it required bills to be posted 72 hours before votes.
He continued, “This is round so as not to let hopes get ahead of realities.”
Holdouts, backed by the Freedom Caucus in the chamber, are looking for measures to reduce the speaker’s office’s influence and give rank-and-file legislators greater power, including seats on essential committees and the opportunity to create and amend laws in a more transparent process.
Hours earlier, McCarthy had told reporters, “We’re having good discussions, and I think everyone wants to find a solution.”
Half of Congress, the House, is effectively at a standstill and unable to convene a new session, swear in new representatives, or carry out other formal work.
The future, however, remained incredibly unknown despite protracted negotiations, indications of concessions, and a public spectacle unlike any other in recent political memory.