Chaos and frustration reign as bitter fight between Republican presidents deepens | ET REALITY

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Leaving the House shortly after delivering the opening prayer Friday morning, House Chaplain Margaret G. Kibben turned to the sergeant-at-arms flanking the entrance and whispered, “Good luck.”

It was a barely audible plea that could not contain yet another day of chaos and uncertainty, of attacks and death threats, as House Republicans divide in ways that increasingly seem like nothing less than divine intervention can mend. .

By the end of the day, Republicans had ousted their last House speaker candidate, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, and a pitched battle had emerged in his place, with about a dozen members exploring a run. And with Republicans not planning to reconvene until Monday, the House is certain to be without speakers for at least 20 days, paralyzed as wars rage abroad and a U.S. government shutdown approaches.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans were at odds from the first moments.

Until Friday, a bloc of blue-chip New York Republicans was seen as Jordan’s best chance to pick up some votes in his third run for president. Instead, he lost ground and three of them joined together to vote for Lee Zeldin, a former representative from Long Island. The three sat together in the House chamber and, during the applause after former President Kevin McCarthy’s nomination speech for Jordan, remained stoic.

“For two weeks, I’ve been very clear about what my policy priorities are,” said Rep. Nick LaLota, one of the three, adding that Jordan had not assuaged his concerns. LaLota, like other members who opposed Jordan, had faced death threats after Jordan and his allies waged a pressure campaign urging Republican voters across the country to inundate lawmakers with calls demanding they fall in line. .

That those members chose the extremely unlikely Zeldin over Jordan reflected the deep personal and ideological fissures within the House GOP, and the resentment that lawmakers of all parties felt all week over the dysfunction. that affected the camera.

“It’s very sad,” said Rep. Andy Kim, Democrat of New Jersey. “Everyone is very frustrated that the Republican majority is simply incapable of governing this chamber.”

After more than two weeks without a speaker and a succession of tumultuous closed-door meetings, Republicans were also speaking among themselves in unusually blunt terms.

Rep. Brian Mast of Florida summed up the mood of many Jordan allies toward those who resist him in one word: “resentment.”

“A couple of our colleagues are taking personal vendettas and petty politics and not voting for Jim Jordan,” added Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina.

Mace’s comments illustrated another aspect of the deepening divisions among Republicans: They can’t agree on who to blame for the chaos. For many more traditional Republicans, the blame lies with Mace and the seven other Republicans who voted to unseat McCarthy earlier this month.

In a last-ditch attempt to calm Jordan’s holdouts, seven of those eight lawmakers offered themselves in tribute Friday afternoon, saying they would accept any form of punishment from the conference for their role in the dysfunction. (The eighth, Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, opposed Mr. Jordan’s presidency and did not sign the letter.)

“If we are the reason the conference cannot meet and elect our designated speaker, then we are willing to submit to any consequences,” said Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, joined by Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Tim Burchett of Tennessee.

His last-minute attempt at conciliation did little to win over the holdouts.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida, who had voted for McCarthy in all three rounds when Jordan was the candidate, said the proposal seemed like a plot to install a speaker of his choice. “That will make me never vote for Jim Jordan,” he said.

With no clear path forward for Jordan, Republicans met in another closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol to determine their next steps. They passed a crowd of Capitol visitors, many of whom stopped to take photos of the sign that still bears McCarthy’s name above the president’s office and chat about impeaching him. Republicans ultimately voted in a secret ballot to end Jordan’s candidacy and start the process again on Monday.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida left the hour-long meeting early, an indication of the right-wing anger that was about to emerge. She had returned to Washington with her newborn to cast her votes in the race for president.

“We don’t have a speaker,” he said. “We have a war in the Middle East and people care more about their own personal spirit than they do about this country.”

Reporters flocked to any members they could as they entered a narrow hallway in the Capitol basement to return home. Some mainstream members were glad to have the opportunity to go beyond Mr. Jordan’s proposal and somehow find someone who could unify the conference; an elusive prospect, many said. Hardliners were furious at what they saw as a betrayal of their candidate.

The division that occurred in what by all indications will be another grueling and chaotic race for speakers was evident: As Rep. Jen Kiggans of Virginia, a Republican from Biden’s district who opposed Jordan, told reporters, that he hoped members would unite around a new candidate. , Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right firebrand, roared right behind her.

“These holdouts,” Boebert shouted in Kiggans’ direction, “are responsible for Congress not working right now.”

Catie Edmondson contributed with reports.

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