U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree described the numerous failed ballots to elect a new House speaker as a “historic embarrassment” for the Republicans as the GOP continues to see an unprecedented battle over who should lead them.
“It’s sad to go from the most productive Congress since the Great Society to this,” the Democrat from Maine’s 1st District said in a statement. “It’s also a very dangerous moment for our country.”
Like the rest of the House, Pingree has not been sworn in for her new term because there is no speaker, closing the House for the first time in 100 years and leading others to worry about the national security implications of a branch being shut down.
McCarthy came up short on a ninth ballot for speaker Thursday afternoon, even after making new concessions to the small group of conservative Republicans opposing him.
Pingree said it was up to Republicans to find a candidate who can get the 218 votes needed to be elected speaker. She will continue to support Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and welcomed Republicans to come on board, though that is unlikely. Due to the GOP’s slim majority, Jeffries has consistently sat six votes shy of being speaker.
Both Pingree and fellow Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District have voted for Jeffries throughout the proceedings. It is the first time Golden has voted with the rest of his party, casting votes in 2019 and 2021 against former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, often saying his party should turn to younger leaders.
Pingree, who was a reliable Pelosi supporter, has tweeted throughout the ordeal, saying that House Republicans were in chaos. She even posted a popcorn emoji with the phrase “Republicans in disarray.”
Golden has been silent, with his office not responding to multiple requests for comment on McCarthy’s situation.
Some members have suggested a unity candidate. One Democrat, Brad Sherman of California, floated the idea of a deal in which his party would hand McCarthy the votes to be speaker but extract spending promises. There’s no indication that McCarthy would take it and it might cost him support on his own side, making it more likely that Republicans solve this alone.