The U.S. House of Representatives has adjourned after failing to produce a new speaker six times in two days.
The House must choose a new leader after Republicans took control of the House in November’s midterm elections, securing a narrow 222-212 majority.
Delegates failed to support Republican Kevin McCarthy to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi in a second day of voting on Wednesday.
Lawmakers voted to go home at night and try again at 12pm (5pm GMT) on Thursday.
The impasse has raised questions about the Republicans’ ability to govern for the next two years as they stumble through the routine votes that usually kick off a legislative session.
House members must name a leader before they can be sworn in as individual members and begin legislative business.
Mr. McCarthy, from California, has been the House Republican leader since 2019 and led his party to success in winning control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
About 20 right-wing Republicans in the party have refused to support Mr McCarthy on ideological grounds, despite calls for unity from former President Donald Trump.
Mr McCarthy received just 201 of the 218 votes needed, while 20 Republicans cast their votes for first-time 2020 elector Byron Donalds.
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day,” said Representative Kate Carmack, nominating Mr McCarthy in the sixth round of voting.
“To all Americans watching right now, we hear your voices. We’re going to get through this — no matter how chaotic it is,” she added.
The last time the House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot was a century ago in 1923.
President Biden said “the rest of the world is watching” events on Capitol Hill.
“I just find it really embarrassing that it took so long,” he added.
Why Republicans are struggling to pick a new speaker
Mr. Donalds told Fox News that “Kevin has a very difficult road right now”, but Mr. McCarthy told reporters that “the conversation will continue” and “we’ll get there”.
In further comments, Mr Donalds said: “This is actually an exciting day for America. There are a lot of members in Parliament who want to have a serious conversation about how we end this and elect a speaker.”
It is predicted that the leadership contest may continue for several weeks.
“It’s worth the days or weeks it takes to find the best speakers,” said Republican Rep. Bob Goode.