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Where Utah congressmen stand on U.S. House speaker vote

Rep. John Curtis calls Republicans inability to elect speaker ‘embarrassing’

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrives in the House chamber in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrives in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

One Utah member of the U.S. House calls Republicans’ inability to choose a speaker “embarrassing” with more rounds of voting expected Wednesday as 20 far-right lawmakers continue to block Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s path to the job.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, supports McCarthy’s bid to lead the GOP majority as do Utah’s other three congressmen.

“This is embarrassing, to be quite frank,” Curtis told “Dave and Dujanovic” on KSL Newsradio, noting Republicans watched as Democrats elected a new leader with unity and cheering. “We look very dysfunctional.”

On Tuesday, no one had garnered the required 218 votes to secure the speaker’s gavel, making it the first time since 1923 that a new Congress will need multiple ballots to choose a speaker.

Curtis said there was no movement among the 20 dissenters overnight. In fact, he said he expects McCarthy to lose one or two votes in the next rounds of voting.

“I think their biggest weakness is they cannot articulate what they want. People have come to them over and over again and said ‘What is it that you want?’ and it feels like the only thing they want is anything but Kevin,” he said.

As of Thursday afternoon, neither McCarthy nor any other candidate had secured the 218 votes needed become speaker.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, blasted the holdouts on Twitter.

“A small group of egotistical members are currently holding up the House Speaker vote. But they have no candidate. They have no consensus. And they have no goal,” he tweeted Tuesday.

“Don’t buy their empty rhetoric about ‘draining the swamp.’ They just want fifteen minutes of fame.”

McCarthy, of California, is the candidate that the majority of GOP House members believe has the experience and the wherewithal to carry out their agenda, Curtis said.

“It’s not a very difficult vote. I think the question is why would you vote for anybody else right now because there’s not a single person on the landscape that can get even near the 200 votes that Kevin’s getting,” he said. “He’s got to figure out how to get this thing across the finish line, and it’s messy.”

Curtis said it’s too soon to consider McCarthy dropping out of the race for speaker.

“People need to realize we’ve been at this for half a day and people are expressing some very strong feelings, and I actually think some of that is healthy,” Curtis said.

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, said the vast majority of Republicans in the House stand behind McCarthy.

“When members are holding votes in exchange for committee positions, you see this is not about principle but personal enrichment. We DON’T sell gavels for votes. Don’t be fooled by 20 second sound bites. Over 91% of us stand behind @GOPLeader for a reason. Let’s get to work,” he tweeted.

Appearing Tuesday night on CNN, Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah said Republicans “for better or worse, notoriously, don’t always fall in line.”

Moore, who supported McCarthy on all three ballots Tuesday, said the vast majority of the GOP conference plans to stick with McCarthy no matter what.

“We can either come together to advance our agenda or allow a select few to keep us from governing. I joined @OutFrontCNN last night to provide more context on the Speaker vote and my support for @GOPLeader,” Moore tweeted.