Former speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy said that the House is essentially paralyzed until a new speaker is elected, and forecasts that a replacement could be a ways away.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have been announcing support for Israel after a surprise attack from the terrorist group Hamas caught the Jewish state off-guard and elicited a declaration of war from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Biden said in a call with Mr. Netanyahu Saturday morning that the U.S. would provide “all means of appropriate support” to the ally nation. But any kind of legislative action for Israel from the House, whether a resolution of support or funding, is stalled without a Speaker of the House.
“There is nothing the House can do until they elect a speaker and I don’t know if that happens quickly,” Mr. McCarthy told Fox News. “The speaker is part of the Gang of Eight that takes action to be able to have the briefings and others but think about this… why would you ever remove a speaker during a term to raise a doubt around the world.”
Mr. McCarthy was ousted from the lower chamber’s top position of power last week after eight Republicans joined all Democrats in passing a motion to vacate the California Republican from the speakership.
Those same eight rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, have also publicly condemned the attacks against Israel. Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee has gone the furthest, calling for Mr. Biden to impose sanctions on the terrorist organization. Congress can create sanctions, but typically the president is the one to impose them.
Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma announced that he was dropping out of contention for the speakership, meaning House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jim Jordan are the only two candidates for the gavel that have publicly thrown their names into the race.
While over a quarter of lawmakers have come out to support either candidate, neither is a clear favorite, according to The Washington Times whip count.
Temporary speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry has scheduled a candidate forum for Tuesday where the pair of lawmakers are expected to make their pitch to their colleagues on why they would wield the gavel. Republican lawmakers could vote for a nominee by Wednesday.
But the gang of eight GOP lawmakers have yet to throw their support publicly behind a candidate, and could lead to another protracted slog of a speaker battle like the one Mr. McCarthy endured in January.