The US House of Representatives remains without a speaker after Republican Jim Jordan fell short of the 217 votes he needed to win the position in the first round of voting on Tuesday.
The Ohio congressman, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and a founding member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, secured only 200 votes, with 20 Republicans voting against him or choosing other candidates.
Mr Jordan faced resistance from some moderate and establishment Republicans who questioned his role in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his involvement in the January 6 attack on Congress.
He also faced criticism for his record as a former wrestling coach at Ohio State University, where he has been accused of ignoring sexual abuse allegations against a team doctor.
Mr Jordan had won the nomination of the House Republican conference on Friday, after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise dropped out of the race when he failed to garner enough support from his colleagues.
Mr Jordan’s supporters hoped that he could unify the fractured Republican caucus and end the leadership vacuum that has paralyzed the House for two weeks, since Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker over his handling of government funding and military aid to Ukraine.
But Mr Jordan’s bid was met with skepticism by some Republicans who said he was too divisive and extreme to lead the party and the House.
Among them was Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who said he wanted a speaker who would acknowledge that Trump lost the election and condemn the January 6 rioters.
Mr Buck told CNN that there would be “a lot of yelling and screaming” among Republicans after the vote.
Democrats, who are in the minority in the House, remained united behind their nominee Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who received 212 votes.
Mr Jeffries, a moderate and a rising star in the party, said he was ready to work with whoever becomes the speaker to address the challenges facing the country and the world.
He also said he hoped that Republicans would choose a speaker who respects democracy and the rule of law.
The House is expected to hold another round of voting on Wednesday, giving Mr Jordan another chance to secure the necessary votes or allowing another candidate to emerge.
Until then, the House is unable to pass any legislation or approve any requests from the White House, such as additional aid to Israel amid its ongoing war with Hamas or sanctions against Russia over its aggression toward Ukraine.