‘Chaos, confusion’: Capital Region representatives weigh in on day 4 of House speaker fight

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As voting on a House speaker stretched into a fourth day, two members representing the Capital Region are united in being ready to elect a speaker, but disagree about whether the infighting foreshadows the session to come.

Speaker candidate Congressman Kevin McCarthy said publicly Friday that he would have enough votes to win the election once the House came back into session.

Congressman Paul Tonko (D – Amsterdam) said Friday the division among Republicans this week has brought Democrats together in asking the same question.

“How did you not structure this so that we’re ready to go?” he asked. “They’re in chaos, confusion and crisis.”

Tonko said the fight over speaker set a negative tone for the coming session.

“I thought the vitriolic tone of introducing and nominating Kevin McCarthy was quite harsh. It was not the kind of productive tone that I think would set a good outcome out for the coming session, the 118th,” he said. “This is going to make it not only difficult to elect a speaker, but then how do you govern from that point going forward? If these fragile outcomes are going to be the case over the next two years, we’re just going to be a huge challenge to get anything done.”

Republican Congressman-elect Marc Molinaro (R – Red Hook) was still waiting to be sworn in Friday, despite having moved into his new office. The swearing-in will take place once a new speaker is elected.

“There are people who have been here a lot longer than me, there are a great number of concerns that folks have. They want to be sure that this House will function on behalf of the people, I share that concern,” he said.

However, Molinaro said Congressman Kevin McCarthy is the right person to lead the party through its differences, saying he expects McCarthy to soon be elected speaker.

Molinaro said early discord is not a sign of the session to come.

“This isn’t how we or the people I represent wanted to start the session, but let’s be fair, there are broad ideological differences within the majority, a lot of flash points that are being addressed early,” he said. “Kevin McCarthy and the leadership team, and we all are having the important conversations about how we get from here, to not only selecting the speaker, but more importantly, how will this House function to better serve the people of the 19th Congressional District and America. That just is happening right up front.”

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