Also, the Democrats held solid control of the House with their sizable majorities for four decades prior to 1994, allowing a pro forma vote on the floor of the House long before it could decide who was Speaker. And while the Speaker is theoretically the constitutional authority for the entire House, in practice the position has evolved into the political and legislative leader of the majority party, making it possible to confer the privilege of the majority.

For many, the mess on the floor of the House over the past few days best exemplifies Republican dysfunction, a potential inability to govern, and the party’s unfortunate political tendency to eat away at its leaders. But as he demonstrated against Mr. McCarthy, his Republican opponents sought to portray the return to days of speaker uncertainty as healthy and a move away from the party’s power.

“We are making history in this process and we are showing the American people that this process works,” said Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania and a prominent McCarthy opponent. “Is it going to be painful? Is it going to be difficult? Yes, it probably is. That’s why it took 100 years.

John James, a newly elected Republican from Michigan, pointed out Thursday that the differences that forced the House into a 133-vote, two-month marathon before the election of Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts as speaker in 1856 were much more consequential than those Above Mr. McCarthy’s speaker.

“Without question, the issues that divide us today are far less serious than they were in 1856,” James, who is Black, said in nominating McCarthy for a seventh round of undecided voting. “The issues today are about certain rules and personalities, whereas the issues at that time were about slavery and whether a man who looked like me was worth 60 percent or 100 percent a human being. It was a long, drawn out, painful process, but it had to happen.

“The good guys won long ago that day,” he said. “The leading Republican candidate won then and the leading Republican candidate will win again.”

In the 1923 fight, the vote lasted three days – the current deadlock lasted three days on Thursday – and Mr. Gillett was ultimately defeated by Tennessee’s Phineas J. Garrett won on the ninth ballot by a vote of 215 to 197, a swift conclusion. This year’s edition, whose ninth ballot ended Thursday afternoon without a winner.

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