Congress has yet to get up and running in the new year as incoming members of the U.S. House of Representatives can't agree on a speaker.
As of Friday morning, according to Fox News, there have been no less than 11 votes in the House to determine who the next speaker will be. Three votes were held on Tuesday, three more were held on Wednesday, and five were held on Thursday.
In none of these votes was a candidate able to reach the 218-vote threshold.
This is despite the fact that Republicans have an incoming majority of 222 - four more than is necessary to elect a speaker.
There are about 20 House Republicans - members of the House Freedom Caucus - who have stood in the way of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) becoming the next speaker.
The essential problem that these 20 Republicans have with McCarthy is that they believe McCarthy is more likely to cave to the Democrats and the D.C. establishment than stand up to the Democrats and for Americans.
These House Republicans, accordingly, have refused to vote for McCarthy and it appears that they will continue to oppose McCarthy until he gives them some legitimate assurances that he will be a strong House speaker for Republican Americans.
In the meantime, House Democrats have united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-CA), but, by themselves, they don't have enough votes to make Jeffries speaker.
What this all means is that, since the House can't begin working without a speaker, Congress is essentially paralyzed.
As votes continue to be held on the House floor, behind the scenes McCarthy has been negotiating with the Republican holdouts in order to try to secure their votes and thus the speakership. The latest reports indicate that some progress may be taking place in these negotiations.
Fox News reports, "after 11 votes in three days that went nowhere, signs emerged Thursday night that Kevin McCarthy may finally have a viable path to becoming the next House speaker."
Fox adds that "it won’t be easy, automatic or immediate."
But, this is the first real sign of potential progress.
The House is expected to reconvene on Friday at noon. Many lawmakers, however, don't expect a speaker to be selected now until next week. This is for several reasons, including that some members of the House will not be there to vote on Friday.