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By LISA MASCARO, STEPHEN GROVES, FARNOUSH AMIRI and KEVING FREKING
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three weeks now since the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans are meeting privately Tuesday to try nominating a new House speaker to accomplish the seemingly impossible job of uniting a broken, bitter GOP majority and returning to the work of governing in Congress.
Having dispatched their speaker then rejected two popular GOP figures as replacements, the House Republicans will be voting instead on a hodge-podge of lesser-known congressmen for speaker, a powerful position second in line to the presidency. The private session could take all day. Early in the morning, Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama announced he would withdraw, leaving seven contenders.
“We’re going to have to figure out how to get our act together — I mean, big boys and big girls have got to quit making excuses and we just got to get it done,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., a conservative caucus leader.
The candidate list, though slimming, is still long and jumbled with no obvious choice for the job. There’s a former McDonald’s franchise owner Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, a conservative leader, who plied his colleagues with hamburgers seeking their support; Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the gruff former hockey coach who reached out to Donald Trump for backing; newcomer Byron Donalds of Florida, a well-liked Trump ally, and a half dozen others.
No one is expected to emerge from first-round voting and Republicans are planning to stay behind closed doors until they can agree on a nominee. Some have pushed for a signed pledge to abide by rules to support the majority winner, but holdouts remain. The plan is to hold a House floor vote later this week.
The House has been in turmoil, without a speaker since the start of the month after a contingent of hardline Republicans ousted McCarthy, creating what’s now a governing crisis that’s preventing the normal operations of Congress.
The federal government risks a shutdown in a matter of weeks if Congress fails to pass funding legislation by a Nov. 17 deadline to keep services and offices running. More immediately, President Joe Biden has asked Congress to provide $105 billion in aid — to help Israel and Ukraine amid their wars and to shore up the U.S. border with Mexico. Federal aviation and farming programs face expiration without action.