The recent struggle to elect a speaker due to a lack of votes in the House of Representatives, may drag on for as long as Kevin McCarthy and his intraparty opposition, consisting of far-right populists like Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert wish to choose an alternative speaker, someone who is not considered as part of the establishment. The group of breakaway Republicans, led by Gaetz and Boebert, have drafted conditions for McCarthy prior to the first vote in the House, which he rejected.
The fragile majority of the Republicans, held hostage by a breakaway group, are also threatened by a 212-strong vote for a potential Democrat speaker, Hakeem Jeffries – just 6 votes shy from success. Despite even Trump’s backing of McCarthy, the group of breakaway Republicans hold their party hostage. In essence, a group of 20 (less than 10% of the entire party) want drastic change on various principles upon the opening of the 117th Congress. What exactly part of their proposal is yet unclear. Gaetz, who stated that the biggest loser of the standoff in Congress was Zelensky, is known to oppose military aid to Ukraine. Some of those who think alike, like Marjorie Taylore Greene have stuck with McCarthy.
It is unclear whether there was anything about aid to Ukraine in the proposals of the breakaway group, but it is clear that McCarthy will need to give in on some issues in order to gain their vote. The other alternatives are unlikely: either another breakaway batch of Republicans (at least 6) help Jeffries of the Democrats become speaker and create an inter party coalition, or the other way around – breakaway Democrats help McCarthy earn the 218 votes required.
Branding McCarthy as a contradiction to their vow to ‘drain the swamp’, the Gaetz-Boeber group wants someone from the right-wing of the Republican party to take charge. It may seem as the group does not have a single issue-based strategy to oust Kevin, and despite some of the reported demands being about committee assignments and amendments into ousting procedures of the speaker. Trump’s calls for McCarthy to be voted in have been ignored, signalling a decline in Trump’s influence over the party.
It is most likely due to the fact that many in the Republicans are agents of chaos, that may end up creating a distraction for Ukraine for a while. It is unclear for how long, the never-Kevin group of Republicans will cause turmoil in the speaker vote, or if any of their demands relate to Ukraine, but one thing is clear: a functioning congress would be better for everyone, especially without agents of chaos.