AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
- Members of Congress are speaking out about the myriad issues caused by the House speaker vote.
- Some members have said that they cannot access classified information and intel briefings.
- Following Rep. McCarthy’s sixth failed bid on Wednesday, there are zero sworn members of Congress.
Members of congress are speaking out about national security concerns amid a seemingly-unending attempt by Rep. Kevin McCarthy to secure the votes necessary to become speaker of the House of Representatives.
There are currently no members of the Congress, as swearing-in ceremonies have been delayed while the quest to elect a House speaker has dragged on. And on Wednesday, several members of Congress said that the procedural hold-up and GOP infighting have restricted their access to classified information and key national security intel.
McCarthy needs 218 votes to secure the leadership bid, and by the sixth round of voting Wednesday night, the number of Republicans voting against him had increased from 19 members on Tuesday, to 21 members. Many of the members of the America First caucus, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, Chip Roy, and Lauren Boebert, voted against McCarthy.
The voting process has exposed deep rifts in the party and left McCarthy with apparent dwindling support from Donald Trump, who spoke up and encouraged GOP members to elect McCarthy on Wednesday, instead of emerging challenger Rep. Byron Donalds.
By Wednesday evening, McCarthy had failed in six consecutive bids to become House speaker.
In a press conference on Wednesday, one of McCarthy’s allies, Rep. Mike Gallagher, said that he and his colleagues were unable to receive intelligence briefings from the sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) because they have not received the clearance associated with being sworn members of Congress, according to NBC News.
“I’m informed by House Security that, technically, I don’t have a clearance,” Gallagher said in the press conference on Wednesday. “I’m a member of the Intel Committee, I’m on the Armed Services Committee, and I can’t meet in the SCIF to conduct essential business.”
Gallagher added that he was due to meet with Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley on Wednesday. Rep. Brad Wenstrup claimed in the same press conference that members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “don’t have access to anything,” according to Politico.
“The secure facility that we work in every day when we’re here, we can’t go in there right now,” Wenstrup said. “We’re in there all the time. And right now, we can’t be in there at all.”
The House Armed Services Committee Democrats also tweeted about the lapse in clearance, saying that McCarthy and the GOP’s quagmire has ” hampered the ability of Congress to function in its oversight role, presenting a clear threat to national security.”
—House Armed Services Democrats (@HASCDemocrats) January 4, 2023
“Members of Congress can’t receive classified information until the Members are sworn in, leaving us in the dark on sensitive developments worldwide and unable to perform the oversight duties that the American people elected us to perform,” the account tweeted.
With voting set to resume tomorrow, Democratic lawmakers are being asked to stay in DC until a speaker is elected.