Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola (Alaska) said Thursday she is open to forming a coalition majority with Republicans as the House plows through its third day of failing to elect a Speaker.
Liz Ruskin, a D.C. correspondent for Alaska Public Media, tweeted that Peltola said that she supports House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) for the Speakership, but she is open to discussion if House members want to form a coalition majority, as often happens in Alaska.
“Anything that gets us communicating with each other rather than talking at each other would be a good thing at this point,” she said.
The House has now failed to choose a Speaker through eight ballots. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) has received more than 200 votes on each of the ballots, but 20 Republicans opposed to him have voted for other candidates, denying him victory.
Without a Speaker, the House is unable to conduct any additional business, including passing rules, swearing in members and considering legislation.
“The gridlock over the Speaker vote is not normal or good for anyone. I am not enjoying this — I don’t think anyone is, and Alaskans deserve better,” Peltola said.
She said “serious” legislating needs to be done and that the infighting is a distraction from Congress focusing on the work it needs to do.
Democrats have unanimously stood behind Jeffries through each ballot since the first one on Tuesday, giving him a plurality of 212 votes to become Speaker. But Jeffries is still short of the 218 votes he would need to secure a majority, and he has not received any support from Republicans.
The Republican opponents to McCarthy have pressed him to agree to numerous conditions to win over their support. McCarthy has given them some concessions, but they have not been satisfied enough to vote for him.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) also indicated in an interview with Spectrum News on Wednesday that she would be open to reaching an agreement with Republicans to end the gridlock. She said members should maybe consider turning to someone who appeals to “the middle” on both sides of the political aisle instead of the “fringes.”
Kaptur said she could be part of a “unity caucus” to give McCarthy the votes he needs to become Speaker it Democrats receive certain considerations in return for their support.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told CNN on Wednesday that he was in “preliminary talks” with Democrats to support a consensus candidate but wanted to hold off on sharing details of the discussions to not get ahead of where negotiations stood.