Speaker Drama: Why is the US House of Representatives in deadlock?

Republican members of the US House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to elect a speaker despite having a majority in the chamber.

Over six rounds of voting, around 20 party members have refused to back their party's candidate, Kevin McCarthy.

What are the rebel Republicans’ demands?

All of these rebels are from the right wing of their party. Some of their demands are fiscal. One rebel, Ralph Norman, demanded that the Republicans block further increases to the amount of money America can borrow, known as the 'debt ceiling, even if it shuts down the government.

Other demands from some of the holdouts include setting up a committee to investigate the FBI and CIA.

However, some people have said this is a problem specific to the Republican party. The former Republican Speaker, John Boehner, argued this in his 2021 memoir, saying that his party’s fringe, “want to throw sand in the gears of the hated federal government until it fails and they've finally proved that it's beyond saving.”

That being said, rebel Republicans are insisting this is to do with McCarthy himself and not their unwillingness to compromise.

One representative took to Twitter, partially blaming the “razor-thin majority” that the Republicans won in the House of Representatives, on McCarthy.

What are the potential outcomes of this impasse?

A speaker must be elected to allow new members of the US House of Representatives to be sworn in and for the body to begin legislating. Eventually, this will happen, even if it takes over 133 ballots and two months, as it did in 1855.

Some have suggested that, as time goes on, McCarthy’s authority becomes weaker. One of the representatives supporting him, Ken Buck, told an American journalist that at “some point” he would need to step aside in order to find a candidate who can win over the Republican rebels.

Another possibility is a candidate with some cross-party support. Ohio’s state legislature has just elected a moderate Republican as their speaker with support from the Democratic Party. However, for now, Democrats in the House of Representatives don't seem inclined to throw their Republican colleagues a lifeline.