US House speaker nominee Steve Scalise drops out of race

The House of Representatives remains leaderless for more than nine days

House majority leader Steve Scalise announces he is withdrawing his candidacy for speaker, at the US Capitol in Washington on October 12. Reuters
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Representative Steve Scalise, who Republicans nominated to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, dropped out of the race on Thursday as the party failed to resolve its divisions.

The No 2 House Republican had secured his party's nomination to replace ousted Kevin McCarthy but was still short of the 217 votes needed to be elected on the House floor, as several of his fellow Republicans said they would not support him.

Republicans could afford no more than four defections – they control the House by a narrow 221-212 margin – if they wanted to end the House's leaderless bout that has already lasted nine days.

“I just shared with my colleagues that I was withdrawing my name as a candidate,” Mr Scalise told reporters.

“If you look at over the last few weeks, if you look at where our conference is, there is still work to be done … there are still some people that have their own agendas.”

Republicans in the House spent hours in closed-door talks on Thursday but failed to resolve divisions.

The infighting has left the chamber unable to act to support Israel's war against the Palestinian militants of Hamas and pass government spending bills before funding runs out on November 17.

Republican members had been hoping to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing spectacle that occurred in January, when hardline conservatives forced Mr McCarthy to endure 15 floor votes over four days before winning the gavel.

What happens now that US House speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed?

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Updated: October 13, 2023, 12:42 AM