For the second day in a row, California congressman Kevin McCarthy failed to gain enough votes to become speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The once-in-a-century event comes as a new generation of Republicans attempts to upend business as usual in Washington.
Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of McCarthy was not even enough to stop 20 conservative holdouts from voting against him. The last time a prospective speaker failed to be elected in their first attempt was in 1923 when the ballot stretched to nine votes.
Many observers have responded to the chaos with either frustration or humour. US President Joe Biden called it “embarrassing” and said that “the rest of the world” was watching the votes.
California Democrat Ted Lieu, meanwhile, tweeted a picture of himself with a bag of popcorn before one of Tuesday’s votes.
But the lack of a speaker holds significant consequences for the House, as until McCarthy or someone else is picked for the role, congress is at a standstill.
“The House of Representatives, as it stands at the moment, has no members. It only has members elect. Because a speaker wasn’t elected yesterday, no members actually sworn in,” Mitch Robertson, an Associate Lecturer in US History at University College London, told Euronews.
“So, for all intents and purposes, there is no House of Representatives in the United States at the moment.
“How long could this drag on for? Going back to before the Civil War, it took up to two months to elect a speaker. There’s no real end in sight for this.”
For now, McCarthy isn’t backing down and appears determined to in his bid to become speaker of the House. “The conversation will continue. We’ll get there,” he told reporters before he lost again on Wednesday.
But at this point, it is unclear how he would be able to secure a majority.
Watch Euronews’ full interview with Mitch Robertson in the video player above.