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Oklahoma congressmen at center of House Speaker holdup

Matt Trotter

A pair of Oklahoma’s Congressmen are finding themselves at the center of the House of Representatives fight over who will lead the chamber.

Newly-elected District 2 U.S. Rep. Josh Brecheen of Southeast Oklahoma has joined a conservative bloc of Republicans opposing the nomination of California Representative Kevin McCarthy to take on the Speaker’s gavel.

Who he's voting for? Kevin Hern, Tulsa's congressman. But Hern has consistently indicated through his votes that he wants McCarthy to be Speaker.

In a statement released to reporters, Brecheen says he opposes the status quo in Washington and hopes to “reform reckless spending” by Congress in opposing McCarthy. Hern has not released a statement about the speaker vote.

Lauren Boebert, a congresswoman from Colorado known for her flagrant rhetoric, was one of the Republicans who cast their vote for Hern on Thursday.

"Let's elect a Republican who can unify our conference, who is a true leader," Boebert said Thursday.

With Republicans’ narrow majority in the House, only four members can break with the rest of the party for McCarthy to secure the nomination.

It’s unclear when the speaker’s race will be resolved. As of Friday morning, the process had reached 11 ballots because a handful of Republicans have consistently voted for candidates other than McCarthy. The candidates are generally more conservative than McCarthy, although former president Donald Trump has endorsed McCarthy for Speaker. The now four-day election process is the longest it's been since before the Civil War.

The Lower House can't vote on any legislation until a Speaker is elected.

OK District 4 U.S. Rep. Tom Cole spoke against fellow U.S. Representatives he believes are carrying out personal grudges through the vote. Cole has been considered for the Speaker role in previous years but has not indicated interest in the position during this vote.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
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