US in crisis amid once-in-a-century political standoff

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives plunged deeper into crisis Thursday as Republican favourite Kevin McCarthy failed again to win the speakership — entrenching a three-day standoff that has paralysed the lower chamber of Congress.

McCarthy, a favourite of his party´s establishment but a bete noire of the far right, has made sweeping concessions to quell a rebellion of around 20 hardliners blocking his bid to be the country´s top lawmaker.

The final round of voting was the 11th in total since the chamber opened for a new term under a narrow Republican majority this week. No speakership contest has gone more than nine rounds since the Civil War era.

Before Thursday´s defeats, McCarthy had already been humiliated by failure to secure the gavel six times in a chaotic 48 hours, losing each round to Democrat Hakeem Jeffries.

“It´s my hope that today the House Republicans will stop the bickering, stop the backbiting and stop the backstabbing so we can have the backs of the American people,” Jeffries, who is also short of the required majority, told reporters.

An increasingly desperate McCarthy had crossed one of his red lines overnight by agreeing to lower the threshold needed to force a vote on ousting a speaker to just one member — imperilling his chances of a long tenure.

The 57-year-old also offered his right-wing opponents more power over how floor votes are conducted, a vote on term limits and a commitment to stop backing moderates against far-right primary candidates in safe Republican seats.

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