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Right-wing Republicans block Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become US House speaker

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WASHINGTON: The new US Congress was plunged into disarray Tuesday as renegade right-wing Republicans blocked favourite Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker of the House of Representatives in a series of humiliating votes seen as a rebuke to the party establishment.

The California congressman needed a simple majority to be elected as Washington’s top legislator, who presides over House business and is second in line to the presidency.

But for the first time in a century, Republicans failed to elect a speaker in a nail-biting first three rounds of voting — given blanket coverage across US television networks.

Rather than celebrating their new control of the House, the party instead faces a drawn-out fight to elect a speaker that could further deepen internal divisions — and put McCarthy’s political career on the line.

The 57-year-old needed 218 votes in the lower chamber, which flipped to a narrow 222-212 Republican majority after last year’s midterm elections.

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