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Professor explains ongoing speaker contest

A political science professor sounds off on the current deadlock in voting for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.

LYCOMING COUNTY, Pa. — The United States House of Representatives is now on the fourth day of voting for a new Speaker of the House. Republicans own the majority of seats in the chamber but have failed to elect party leader Kevin McCarthy after several rounds of voting. This is the longest speaker contest in more than 150 years.

Newswatch 16 sat down with a political science professor at Lycoming College to find out what is going on.

"Because it is so narrow for Republicans now, and because some of them are not big fans of McCarthy, then that creates this deadlock here where they do not have enough support to elect a speaker and move forward," said Prof. Ben Kantack.

To win, someone has to obtain the majority of 218 votes. The US House is made up of 435 members, 222 of which are Republicans. Voting will continue until the majority threshold is reached.

"Any sort of rule changes or adjustments to avoid this problem couldn't happen until the speaker was in place, which is why we are stuck here," said Kantack.

There are long-term effects if this vote does not get resolved soon. Government spending or passing legislation will be delayed.

"Once those things start getting delayed, if we keep going with this, it could produce things like government shutdowns or other delays in funding for agencies," Kantack added.

Rep. McCarthy has already begun to promise deals to some Republicans to gain more votes. But that comes with some consequences.

"A lot of the concessions and requests that McCarthy is agreeing to, to persuade voters to come to his side will weaken the power of the speaker. He will have much less power as a speaker than Nancy Pelosi did in the past," Kantack said.

The longest impasse to elect a Speaker of the House came in 1855. It took two and a half months and 133 voting sessions.

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