ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives is at a standstill after 11 failed votes to elect a House speaker.
Political science professor at John Brown University Daniel Bennett said the longer the votes go on, the longer lawmakers can’t do any work.
“Congress can’t pass bills and send them on to the president’s desk without a functioning House of Representatives,” Bennett said. “They can’t conduct oversight over the other branches of government without electing a speaker and get that process started.”
Bennett said the Republicans’ narrow majority is making the vote much harder.
“A handful of congressmen can exercise a great deal of influence,” Bennett said.
Bennett said in the short term, the gridlock won’t impact the everyday lives of Arkansans, but it could stall important work on the Hill.
“House members who are really concerned with national security issues are going to be sounding the alarm to say we need to get this taken care of so that we can get down to business,” Bennett said.
All four of Arkansas’ congressmen have voted for Kevin McCarthy every time so far. Representative Bruce Westerman said a small group of GOP is making it hard for him and others to start legislating.
“We’re looking at 10% of the Republican conference trying to dictate who’s going to be the speaker, and if we let that happen on who’s going to be the speaker, they’re going to try and do that on something else,” Westerman said.
Congressman Steve Womack issued the following statement on the speaker votes.
“I am beyond frustrated. We have pressing work ahead of us. I will support any candidate who is qualified and equipped to lead our conference and work on behalf of Arkansans and Americans. With a razor-thin majority, we need to get serious about consensus. We are already behind. We need to be unified behind a strong agenda and solutions now.”Rep. Steve Womack, (R) Arkansas
The House is set to reconvene Friday at noon.