Republicans Pressured To Select House Speaker Amidst Middle East Conflict

Republican lawmakers are currently under immense pressure to settle on a new candidate to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives, especially due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

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Republican lawmakers are under growing pressure to pick a candidate to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives. The pressure is even more intense due to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and the attacks on Israel. 

One senior official in the Biden administration told reporters that the current lack of speaker in the House could make it difficult for the US to offer aid in the Middle East with the current attacks on Israel. “There probably is a role for Congress here, and without a speaker of the House, that is a unique situation we’re going to have to work through,” the official said.

McCarthy was ousted as the speaker by Republicans last week in a no-confidence vote, a first in American History, and GOP lawmakers have been facing difficulties when it comes to finding a replacement. Currently House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chair of Ohio, Jim Jordan, are viewed as the top candidates. 

Representative MIchael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters McCarthy’s removal as speaker has “sent a dangerous message” to adversaries of the US.

“I look at the world and all the threats that are out there, and what kind of message are we sending to our adversaries when we can’t govern, when we’re dysfunctional, when we don’t even have a speaker of the House.”

House Republicans are expected to vote for a replacement candidate on Wednesday morning with the GOP planning on hosting a candidate forum Tuesday evening. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has called on Republicans to pick a candidate who can win 217 votes in a House that is currently very divided. 

The pressure to choose a candidate that will satisfy both sides of the House is also growing due to the conflict in the Middle East and the recent Hamas attacks on Israel where more than 700 individuals died and more than 100 soldiers and civilians have been taken hostage. With Israel formally declaring war on Hamas, the pressure is on for the US to organize and offer their aid. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News that despite the disorganization in Congress, the US has a standing agreement to supply Israel with $3.8 billion in security assistance annually.

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“There’s a tremendous amount of aid and assistance already in the pipeline.”

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Blinken continued to explain that it’s still integral for both houses of Congress to make their support known as they continue to navigate finding a new speaker: “That’s something we want to see, and we hope that that happens quickly.” 

According to the Pentagon, the US is planning to deploy the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and several other ships to the Eastern Mediterranean to act as a deterrent in the region.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also stated on Sunday that the US will be providing additional military assistance to the Israel Defense Forces. The first round of assistance is currently on the way and expected to arrive in Israel within the next few days. 

Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who led the removal of McCarthy, told NBC news that that he rejects any accusations that his choice to depose speaker McCarthy has “jeopardized US national security. “I don’t think that other countries think about Kevin McCarthy’s speakership quite as much as Kevin McCarthy does,” Gaetz said. 

“I reject the premise that this is going to drag on for weeks,” he said.