New competition among US Republicans for the leadership of Congress

After arch-conservative US Representative Steve Scalise withdrew as a candidate for chairman of the House of Representatives, two other Republicans are running for the post. At a meeting of the Republican caucus on Friday, right-wing hardliner Jim Jordan, who was defeated by Scalise in an internal vote on Wednesday, and little-known Rep. Austin Scott sought the support of their party colleagues.

During the course of the day there should be a vote on who the group nominates to replace House of Representatives Chairman Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted last week. Jordan, who was supported by former President Donald Trump, was the clear favorite, but he met with major reservations from many moderate Republicans. The winning candidate must then secure a majority of the entire House of Representatives.

The deeply divided Republican faction actually decided on Wednesday in favor of Scalise, who prevailed over Jordan in a close vote. However, the majority leader of the parliamentary group threw in the towel on Thursday evening after it became clear that he would not achieve the 217 votes necessary in the plenary session for an election to the top of the congressional chamber. Although the Republicans have 221 representatives, dozens of them did not want to support Scalise.

The chaos among the Republicans has far-reaching consequences: without a chairman, the House of Representatives is largely paralyzed. This means, among other things, that Congress cannot decide on further military aid for Israel, which is attacked by the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas, or Ukraine, which is attacked by Russia. The USA is also threatened with a so-called shutdown in mid-November without a budget solution.

McCarthy was overthrown as the first chairman of the House of Representatives in US history on October 3rd in the wake of a revolt by right-wing hardliners in his own party. The background was the dispute over the US budget and new aid to Ukraine.