House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to become speaker of the US House of Representatives, plunging Republicans into chaos ahead of important budget negotiations.
McCarthy had been considered the frontrunner to replace John Boehner after the latter abruptly announced last month that he would leave at the end of October.
Following McCarthy’s announcement Thursday that he was pulling out of the contest, Boehner immediately postponed House Republicans’ internal election and said he will stay on as speaker until his replacement is elected, the Wall Street Journal reported.
McCarthy’s announcement, just hours after he had made a pitch asking Republicans to elect him, stunned House Republicans.
Lawmakers said they were left reeling and with no sense of who could unite their fractured group.
House Republicans will have to wrestle with their party’s future at a time when Congress must contend with consequential legislative deadlines.
Most pressing, the Treasury Department has said Congress must raise the federal government’s borrowing limit by Nov. 5 so that it can continue to pay the country’s bills on time.
Lawmakers are also working to reach a two-year budget deal before the government’s current funding expires on Dec. 11, the Journal noted.
“The utter chaos of the Republican Party must not threaten the full faith and credit of the US and the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.
“Republican chaos is likely to get worse before it gets better but the economic livelihood of the American people should not be threatened as a result of Republicans’ inability to govern,” Reid was quoted as saying.
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