Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'You want to come here to get things done': U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie frustrated by longest House Speaker contest in 164 years

Rep. Brett Guthrie's Facebook page

A Republican congressman from southern Kentucky says it’s frustrating watching the spectacle unfold over the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Following nearly a week of balloting, Kevin McCarthy has lost eleven rounds of elections to become the next House Speaker under the new GOP majority, but Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green says McCarthy should stay in the race for the good of the chamber.

Despite a number of concessions from McCarthy, about 20 hard-line conservatives are blocking the GOP leader from claiming the gavel.

Rep. Guthrie says the stalemate is causing the American public to lose confidence in his party’s ability to lead the House.

“What people are watching is, 'We wanted you to change things in Washington DC and you can’t even come together to pick a speaker,'" Guthrie told WKU Public Radio. "Anybody wants us to have functioning government that works. I think people will say, 'I didn’t vote for this. I voted for change, and this isn’t what I voted for.'"

Failure to elect a speaker has delayed the swearing in of House members and voting on legislation.

McCarthy campaigned for Guthrie when he first ran for Congress in 2008. Guthrie spoke with his close ally on Thursday and said he was staying positive. Guthrie supports McCarthy's elusive bid for the speakership and maintains he’s the best person to lead the House GOP.

“He can work with the other side, and for us to get things done, there’s going to have to be compromises, and when we can’t even come together to elect a speaker, it shows it’s going to be a difficult two years.”

Rep. Guthrie is in line to become chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Healthcare. Until the deadlock is resolved, Congress can't even hold hearings on issues that he says are important to the American people.

"For example, I have two people in my office in Washington, D.C. that have children who can't get children's Tylenol. I mean it's just an utter failure of Health and Human Services. We need to be having hearings about that," Guthrie said. "We know what happened with baby formula. We need to learn what's happening now and we can't have those meetings with what's going on on the floor today."

McCarthy can lose no more than four Republican votes in the closely divided chamber. Republicans won a razor-thin majority in November and need 218 of their 222 members to agree on a pick for House Speaker.

Guthrie said he hasn't heard if Congress will remain in session this weekend if a new speaker isn't elected by the end of Friday.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
Related Content