Illinois’ congressional delegation remains split on the choices for the U.S. House’s next speaker as the body took a rare sixth unsuccessful vote Wednesday afternoon.
However, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Springfield, agree on one thing: They are ready to put the voting behind them.
While Bost, who represents the 12th District in southern Illinois, said he’ll do whatever it takes to get Kevin McCarthy of California elected speaker, he’s struggling to understand what some members of his party want.
The five-term representative said 20 of the Republican Party’s 221 members shouldn’t be able to dictate who becomes speaker, especially when the other 90% agree. Despite the fracture in the party, Bost said he expects McCarthy will eventually prevail.
“There’s a reason why: He’s got the most experience,” Bost said.
A seventh vote is possible when the House reconvenes at 11 a.m. Thursday.
In the first six votes, newly elected Budzinski of the 13th District hasn’t broken ranks with her party, and she said Wednesday afternoon she’ll continue to vote for Hakeem Jefferies of New York. Democratic House members already voted to make Jefferies their leader.
She said the Republican Party needs to reach a consensus so the House can start legislating this term.
“I think it’s time that they start to govern and do their jobs,” said Budzinski, whose district includes most of the Metro East.
Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, who represents the 15th District, which includes part of the Metro East, is one of the Freedom Caucus members Bost is trying to persuade to vote for McCarthy.
So far, Miller has mostly voted for Byron Donalds, a representative from Florida who’s become the consensus candidate for 20 GOP members opposing McCarthy.
Bost said he reached out to Miller to negotiate.
“She’s very strong in opposition,” he said. “I understand that former President Trump may have even reached out to her, and she hasn’t changed that position yet. I hope she does.”
Miller could not be reached for comment.
Bost said while the Republicans are struggling to elect a speaker, they aren’t addressing the issues facing the country, he said. Also as the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Bost said the House isn’t providing needed oversight on key issues facing former military members, citing last year’s PACT Act as an example.
Budzinski, whose new 13th District stretches from the Metro East to Springfield and Champaign, said one of her top priorities this term will be helping to write the farm bill.
“I want to make sure family farmers have a seat at that table when the farm bill is being negotiated,” she said.
The Democrat said she’s eager to be sworn in to office and start working, which can’t happen until a speaker is elected.
“It’s the people’s house,” she said. “So let’s elect a speaker, and let’s get on with it.”