Deadlock deepens in US House speaker showdown

The deeply riven US House of Representatives was engulfed in crisis for a second day running Wednesday as fresh rounds of voting failed to produce a winner in the race for speaker.

Conservative hardliners have been blocking establishment pick Kevin McCarthy in a humiliating standoff that has paralyzed the lower chamber of Congress since it flipped to narrow Republican control after the new year.

Some 20 Republicans denied McCarthy a majority in three drawn-out votes on Wednesday -- forcing another overnight adjournment with little to show for the drama -- after the rebels had spent Tuesday blocking the California congressman's path to the gavel.

Republican infighting, described by Democratic President Joe Biden as "embarrassing for the country," has made the 2023 speakership race the first in a century to require multiple rounds of voting.

The stalemate has left the chamber unable to swear in members, fill committees, adopt rules for legislating or negotiate a path through the paralysis.

The House adjourned until noon on Thursday after the sixth indecisive ballot, allowing the Republicans a few precious hours to regroup and settle on a new strategy before going back into the fray.McCarthy -- who has raised millions of dollars to elect right-wing lawmakers -- dragged his party back to a 222-212 House majority in last year's midterms after four years in the wilderness.

The 57-year-old former entrepreneur has long coveted the opportunity to replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi, something of an icon in US politics who held the gavel in the last Congress.

But McCarthy's speaker bid has opened a troubling rift within the House Republicans, with centrists referring to the hard-right faction leading the charge against him as the ...

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