Republican Steve Scalise quits Speaker race and criticises colleagues with ‘own agendas’

Republican congressman Steve Scalise has abandoned his bid to be the next US Speaker of the House – just over 24 hours after his party nominated him.

His decision to withdraw from the race throws Washington’s House of Representatives into further turmoil – and means the position of Speaker has now been vacant for 10 days since Republican Kevin McCarthy was ousted from office.

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

“Our conference still has to come together and is not there. There are still some people that have their own agendas.

“This House of Representatives needs a Speaker, and we need to open up the House again.

“But clearly, not everybody is there. And there are still schisms that have to get resolved.”

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US House Speaker removed from office

Mr Scalise, 58, was widely respected after surviving being shot by a left-wing extremist during a practice for the annual congressional baseball game in 2017.

But he remained resolute in his support for Mr McCarthy and urged colleagues to unite and support him, meaning rebels were unlikely to accept him as an alternative.

Mr McCarthy was removed from office after a historic challenge to his leadership from his own party.

He faced a motion to vacate, which was triggered by Donald Trump ally Matt Gaetz, just months after securing the position in 15 rounds of voting.

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Gaetz: ‘McCarthy couldn’t keep his word’

It followed Mr McCarthy’s decision to cooperate with the Democrats to keep the government running rather than risk a shutdown.

It is the first time in the country’s history that House representatives have voted the Speaker out.

The Republican infighting has left the chamber unable to act and respond to the reignited Israel-Hamas conflict – and pass government spending bills before funding runs out on 17 November.

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Mr Scalise had defeated Republican Jim Jordan by a vote of 113-99 in a secret ballot on Wednesday.

Moments after Mr Scalise withdrew from the race, Republican Jim Banks urged his party to throw its weight behind Mr Jordan.

“I voted for Jim Jordan in the conference election yesterday and I remain committed to doing everything I can to help elect him the next Speaker of the House,” Mr Banks said in a statement.

“He is a conservative fighter and a leader who can unite our party.”

However, it is unclear whether Mr Jordan could succeed where Mr Scalise failed and get the 217 votes needed to secure the job.

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