Washington, Oct 4 (EFE).- The race to replace Republican Kevin McCarthy as leader of the United States House of Representatives opened on Wednesday with allies of former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), such as Jim Jordan, in the mix.
Jordan, chairman of that chamber’s Judiciary Committee, officially launched his bid on Wednesday, claiming that the country is at a “crossroads” and that Republicans must unite to fulfill their promise to Americans.
Jordan already has the support of Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was responsible for McCarthy’s ouster on Tuesday by introducing a motion against him that was approved by 216 votes in favor and 210 against, making history by being the first in the country to remove a leader of the lower chamber.
At the moment, the presidency is held on an interim basis by Patrick McHenry, who was appointed by McCarthy for this purpose, as established by the internal rules of that body.
The representative of North Carolina’s 10th district is known for having been one of the leading conservative negotiators of the increase of the national debt ceiling.
His acting presidency began with two symbolic moves: the expulsion from their respective offices of the former speaker of the same chamber, Nancy Pelosi, and the former leader of the Democratic majority there until last January, Steny Hoyer, in alleged retaliation for the lack of Democratic support for McCarthy.
McCarthy, who needed 15 tries to win the chairmanship in January, already announced on Tuesday that he does not intend to run again. He stressed that he has no problem with having lost his job for “doing the right thing”.
His succession is urgent, because until there is a new speaker, that chamber is virtually paralyzed, in the midst of negotiations on additional financing for Ukraine and the budgets for the current fiscal year, after the 45-day extension agreed on Saturday.
In the competition, names like Steve Scalise, current conservative majority leader, who has not yet formally taken the step, or Elise Stefanik, current number three in the Republican Party in the House, have begun to emerge.
In an interview with Newsmax on Wednesday, Gaetz mentioned that he would consider either, Jim Jordan or Steve Scalise, an improvement over McCarthy.
Trump himself has received the support of his most ardent defenders, such as the far-right Marjorie Taylor-Green, but the former president, who has shown disinterest in the position in the past, made clear on Wednesday that his focus is on the 2024 presidential election, for which he is seeking the Republican nomination.
Although nothing prevents someone from outside Congress from occupying the presidency, that position cannot be in the hands of someone accused of charges that carry two or more years in prison if convicted.
The former president is facing four felony charges whose potential sentences would extend well beyond that period, so the option would not be viable.
On the Democratic side, now a minority, Hakeem Jeffries is a possibility.
“The Republicans have the majority in the House, and it is their responsibility to elect a speaker and to govern. If they are unable to do that, then let the Democrats do it,” said progressive Representative Pramila Jayapal.
In the November 2022 midterm elections, conservatives won 221 seats, and Democrats retained 212.
Traditionally, the party that holds its majority wins the presidency, as the Republicans do now, but nothing would prevent the Democrats from doing the same. EFE