Peltola floats bipartisanship as way out of House speaker morass but GOP still stalled by infighting

woman in striped jacket
Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola in the halls of the Capitol in January. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola said she’s ready to help forge a bipartisan solution to the leadership crisis that has paralyzed the U.S. House, but so far the Republican majority seems determined to select a leader on their own.

“I think this has a lot to do with concerns that members have, that they not ever appear to be working with Democrats,” she said in an interview in her D.C. office Thursday. “And I just hope that as a nation, we can work beyond that, because it is so important for America to be projecting stability.”

Thursday marked the 16th day without a House speaker. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, remains the leading Republican candidate for the job. He has fallen well short of the 217 votes needed, and some 20 Republicans who oppose him appear to be dug in. Meanwhile, all 212 Democrats have repeatedly voted to support House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Peltola said she doesn’t see a solution to the impasse until Republicans get tired of fighting among themselves and reach across the aisle for help electing the next speaker.

“I think that the Democratic caucus — I can certainly speak for myself: I am very attentive to any way that I could help this situation. There just doesn’t seem to be a play for our caucus at this time,” she said.

Peltola is a member of a bipartisan group of moderates called the Problem Solvers Caucus. She said they meet almost daily to consider ways out of the logjam. Some members proposed keeping the temporary speaker in place until Jan. 3. But Republicans rejected a resolution to do that after a long, closed-door meeting Thursday.

“We made the pitch to members on the resolution as a way to lower the temperature and get back to work,” Jordan told reporters. “We decided that wasn’t where we’re going to go.”

Peltola isn’t the only person floating a bipartisan solution, but crossing the aisle to vote for speaker is nearly unheard of in congressional history. 

Amid all the hyperpartisanship, members of both parties have greeted Peltola warmly after she returned to the Capitol for the first time since her husband’s death in a plane crash. The entire chamber stood to applaud her first vote Tuesday. And Thursday former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent her a case containing an American flag that flew over the Capitol the night her husband died.

“The support and sympathy that my colleagues have shown has been really overwhelming,” she said.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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