Biden has two military aid packages to sell, but no House to buy them

Washington, Oct 22 (IANS): The United States is dealing with two wars and the Congress, which needs to fund them, is closed for business, or at least one part of it, the House of Representatives.

The Biden White House is seeking $105 billion for security aid to Ukraine and Israel, but the House will not be able to act on it — approve or disapprove — because it doesn’t have a Speaker, who is the leader of the chamber.

It hasn’t had a Speaker for 18 days since the Republicans, who control the House as the majority party, have not been able to decide who amongst them should succeed Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted by a bunch of members of his own party.

The search for a Speaker has been mired in internal squabbling in the party, largely between moderates and hardliners. The first to win a secret ballot of the party’s lawmakers, Steve Scalise, a moderate, pulled himself out of the race when he saw that he did not have the support of enough members of his party to get to the 217 votes needed to win the Speakership in vote of the full chamber.

The Republicans hold a narrow lead in the 435-member seat and anyone running for Speaker can afford to lose the votes of only four members of the party as no Democrats will break ranks to vote for a Republican.

All 212 of them voted for the House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries in all the 15 rounds of voting that McCarthy called for to win the Speakership in January.

Jim Jordan, a hardliner who was beaten by Scalise in the secret ballot, now thrust himself to the top of the race. Although endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Jordan didn’t have much luck with numbers either. He called for three votes on the floor of the House and lost. In fact, his support within the Republican party dwindled from the first vote to the third. He finally took himself out of the race on Friday.

A move is afoot to empower the Speaker pro tem, Patrick McHenry, to introduce and conduct the passage of legislation till the election of a Speaker.

Moderates in both parties are willing to discuss it, but Republican hardliners have opposed it calling it a “violation of traditions and norms". McHenry himself is not too keen and parliamentary experts have warned that any legislative decision or measure might be challenged in court if not passed or taken by a duly elected Speaker. The impasse continues.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul has called a hearing on the Israel-Hamas conflict next week at which top officials from the State and Defense Departments are expected to testify. The hearing is titled "Friend and Ally: U.S. Support for Israel After Hamas’ Barbaric Attack". McCaul and the majority of Republicans support more security aid for Israel, but they will have to elect a Speaker first.



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Title: Biden has two military aid packages to sell, but no House to buy them

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