Updated at 12:12 p.m.
As the House of Representatives entered its second day of voting to select a speaker for the Republican-controlled body, members of the Massachusetts delegation — all Democrats — expressed dismay, frustration and occasional amusement.
“This is not entertainment,” Rep. Jake Auchincloss of Newton told GBH’s Morning Edition co-hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel Wednesday morning. “This is governance. It is meant to be serious-minded and it's meant to be productive.”
The chamber held three votes Tuesday, with California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy vying for the speaker’s position. Some far-right members of his party refused to vote for him, and McCarthy did not get the 218 votes he needed. He received 203 votes in the first two rounds, and 202 in the third. Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, got unanimous Democratic support with 212 votes.
The U.S. House has not needed more than one vote to elect a speaker since 1923, when the proceedings stretched to nine ballots.
An hour before the House was set to meet in another attempt to elect its speaker on Wednesday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley told Boston Public Radio the chaos in Washington highlights to the American people a stark contrast in the Republican party’s ability to govern compared to Democrats.
“It’s a disgrace. The world is watching, and this is simply dysfunctional,” Pressley said. “So for every hour that we are delayed here, the Republicans are hurting the American people at a time of great consequence and an inflection point for our nation.”
Pressley did not speculate about a potential path to consensus on Wednesday, but said Republicans are “ill-equipped to govern” and called McCarthy “certainly unfit to be speaker.”
Auchincloss also expressed frustration with the party.
“Regardless of who that new leader is going to be, the House GOP is going to wake up with the same problem [it] woke up with for the last three terms, and that is they are at a fork in the road,” Auchincloss said. “They have to choose between the governance wing of their party and the Trump wing of the party. They still are struggling with that choice.”
“The House GOP is in complete disarray,” Auchincloss said. “My first term two years ago began with an insurrection, also fomented by the MAGA wing of the GOP. And this term is beginning with the MAGA wing of the GOP now really rebelling against their own leadership. It's just absolute chaos on their side of the aisle.”
While much of the focus has been on the mechanics of the speakership election, Auchincloss said, congresspeople are missing opportunities to serve their constituents.
“If they go down the governance wing of that fork in the road, where they want to come and offer ideas for achieving energy independence that advances clean energy, they want to offer their ideas for lowering health care, housing, childcare, higher education costs — we're here to work with them in good faith,” he said. “I've got tons of ideas I think could get Republican votes on all those fronts.”
In the meantime, he said, he has an idea for moderate members of the Republican party.
“I think moderate Republicans should be wondering if they need to cross the aisle and vote for Hakeem Jeffries, because they clearly can't figure it out on their side,” he said.
Representatives are also focusing on how voters will react to the chaos in Congress. Pressley said she will use this situation to lay the groundwork for Democrats to regain control of the House in 2024.
“[Republicans] are in this moment playing with Congress, and our government, and leaving the American people in limbo, while Democrats are changing and saving lives and focused on standing in the gap to mitigate the hurt to alleviate hardship.”
Pressley cited the work Democrats have done since Biden took office, like lowering insulin costs, delivering climate change legislation, and student loan forgiveness — the latter of which is on pause as it faces legal challenge in the Supreme Court. Looking forward, Pressley said she will continue to use all levers of government, including leveraging the incoming Healey-Driscoll administration in Massachusetts, to pressure the Biden-Harris administration on her priorities such as a federal death penalty moratorium and expanding reproductive health and abortion access.
"Years of blindly pursuing power, currying favor for special interests & bowing to election deniers has left them in shambles — with no shared vision and no leader," Clark tweeted. "A day that should have been spent working for the American people has ended without the new Congress even being sworn in."
Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted that "House Democrats are united and ready to get to work. House Republicans are in chaos, confusion, and crisis."
Rep. Jim McGovern quipped about newly elected Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican accused of telling repeated lies about his background.
"Even George Santos is having a better day than Kevin McCarthy," McGovern tweeted.
This story waas updated to include comments from Rep. Ayanna Pressley.