US House in limbo as Steve Scalise scrambles for votes

Republicans have voted to back Steve Scalise as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, but it is unclear if he has enough support to win an overall majority in the chamber.

He defeated hardliner Jim Jordan in a private party vote on Wednesday.

Mr Scalise, 58, must now work to unite the divided Republicans and secure the backing of most of its representatives.

Republicans hold a slim majority, meaning he can only afford to lose the support of five party members.

It is unclear when the House will be called back for that vote. A simple majority, 217, is required to win the job.

If he were to achieve that, Mr Scalise would become Speaker and end days of paralysis in the lower chamber of Congress, which began when Kevin McCarthy was ousted by hardliners in his own Republican party.

The party has been plagued by infighting in recent weeks, and seemed unable to reach an agreement on Mr McCarthy’s replacement.

The slim margin of Mr Scalise’s victory in the closed-door meeting – 113 votes to 99 – highlights the deep divisions within the party, and some lawmakers have expressed scepticism that, even now, he has the votes necessary to secure the position.

Among those still opposing him is Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, who told reporters that he is a “hard no”, at least in the initial vote, because of disagreements with Mr Scalise on how the budget should be handled.

Mr Massie added that he believed at least 20 other Republicans would also vote against Mr Scalise, significantly more than the five votes he could afford to lose.

BBC

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