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Here’s What Can’t Get Done While Republicans Fight Over a Speaker

U.S.Here’s What Can’t Get Done While Republicans Fight Over a Speaker

Republican disunity over who will be the next speaker has brought the House to a standstill. Legislative business has been halted for more than a week, leaving one chamber of Congress hobbled in the face of crises at home and abroad.

The House is now under the control of Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who was named as the temporary speaker after Republicans dumped Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker last week. But Mr. McHenry is unelected and primarily in place to oversee the election of a new speaker, and his legislative powers are untested. The position second in line to the presidency remains unfilled.

The infighting has consequences far beyond Capitol Hill. Here is a look at the big tasks Congress faces as Republicans remain deadlocked.

There is a broad bipartisan consensus on the need to rush additional military support to Israel for its war against Hamas. But the leadership vacuum means there is no certainty about how soon any aid could be approved and delivered. President Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that he would seek approval from Congress for additional funding for Israel, and officials in the administration have suggested a specific request could come within weeks. Should the speaker fight wear on, it was not clear whether the House could act on such a request under the leadership of an unelected temporary speaker.

A White House request for $24 billion in additional funding for Ukraine is on hold during the leadership fight. Republican opposition to continued aid for Kyiv, once confined to the far right, has been growing in recent weeks. And right-wing anger about the prospect of sending additional aid played a role in the ouster of Mr. McCarthy.

Congress is operating under a temporary extension of last year’s spending bills, and has until a self-imposed Nov. 17 deadline to pass 12 new yearlong bills to fund the government through the rest of the year and into 2024. In the nearly two weeks since Congress cleared the extension, the battle over the speakership has consumed many legislative days that otherwise could have been spent working through those spending measures. Mr. McCarthy was unable to persuade Republicans to support a stopgap bill to avert a shutdown, and his decision to rely on Democratic votes to pass one cost him his job. It was not clear how his successor might avoid a similar fate.


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