Members of the U.S. House will try again Wednesday to elect a speaker.
Republican Kevin McCarthy of California failed on Tuesday to get a majority on three ballots because a small group in his own party blocked his nomination.
For more on what it's like to be inside the House during this historic stalemate, WBUR's Morning Edition was joined by Massachusetts Congresswoman Lori Trahan.
Highlights from this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.
On the mood in the House during this rare occurrence
"It's sad. You know, there's no gloating. And there were reports that Democrats would have [eaten] popcorn as they watched the dysfunction and the chaos ensue on the other side. And there's genuine worry about what this means for the House of Representatives and how it will function over the next two years. And the message from the American people this past November was clear they want Washington to work for them.
But like I said, in the past 24 hours, since Republicans took control of the House, they spent every minute looking out for themselves. We could have voted for a speaker and moved on to the people's business, but instead, Republicans have wasted an entire day fighting with each other. And truthfully, there's no end in sight. And so families here in Massachusetts and in every state across our country deserve better than that from their representatives. And hopefully this is a wakeup call to House Republicans."
On the role of Democrats in this situation
"Look, this comes down to the math. There are 222 House Republicans and 212 House Democrats. The GOP has the majority. They went out and they asked the American people to entrust them with this power. So, you know, it's really on the Republican side moving off from either their current slate of candidates who have proven incapable of securing the 218 vote and and putting a path forward so that we can move on today. I mean, I'll tell you, Democrats are united around Hakeem Jeffries as he received 212 votes in three rounds of voting. And it's because he represents our values. And we want to continue the work that we accomplished these last two years.
And, frankly, that worked across the aisle and got bipartisan legislation across the line — bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS and Science Act. We passed the pact about the service members exposed to burn pits, we got addiction and mental health care legislation done. Sadly, Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team worked against most of those pieces of legislation. And so, look, the Democrats have already proven that we are willing to work across the aisle. It's the Republicans are going to be willing to meet us halfway."
On what she expects to happen Wednesday
"Well, that is the question. I've heard differing reports that the Republicans are going to stick with this even if it takes days. As you know, this does come down to now. I haven't heard any breakthroughs that happened overnight on securing more than the 202 votes that Kevin McCarthy received [Tuesday]. And so, we'll see what happens at noontime [Wednesday]. But, like I said, there is important business that we need to take up. The house needs to function. We need to swear in members. We need to get our committee work done. We need to do our work on behalf of the workers and the families that we represent and every day that we spend wasting over this inner turmoil of the Republican Conference of the day that we're not working for the American people."
This article was originally published on January 04, 2023.
This segment aired on January 4, 2023.