PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona used the terms “clown show” and “personal theater” when discussing his Republican colleagues’ inability to elect a House speaker.
“We’ve crossed over from, ‘Hey, we’re going to be tough negotiators,’ to, ‘OK guys, we got what we wanted, we got what we needed to have reforms,'” Schweikert told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday, before the House was expected to reconvened for a second day of deliberations over who will lead the chamber.
“Stop the clown show and let’s get to work.”
Schweikert said he was frustrated with how his seventh term in the House started Tuesday after previously taking part in negotiations to obtain certain reforms in how the House operates.
However, he believes Rep. Kevin McCarthy will eventually get the nod as speaker despite falling short in the first three full House votes, stymied by 20 Republicans who wouldn’t vote for the Californian. Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and Eli Crane are among the Republicans who voted for somebody other than McCarthy.
“In some ways, this is now personal theater instead of actual facts,” Schweikert said.
Schweikert said if the holdout conservative faction of Republicans doesn’t unite behind McCarthy, there’s a danger that Democrats will strike a deal with a more moderate GOP candidate.
The candidate to become speaker needs a majority of the votes from House members who are present and voting. Needing 218 votes in the full House on Tuesday, McCarthy received just 203 in the first two rounds of voting — less even than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber — and fared even worse with 202 in round three.
“Now you have this frustration for a number of us who we believe we got the reforms that had been desired and, for some reason, the goalposts keep seeming to move,” Schweikert said.
“And look, I’m very fond of my fellow members. Our delegation on the Republican side is split, but at some point you’ve got to accept victory and say, ‘Let’s move on,'” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.