State Department says Speaker fight likely to compound national security concerns

State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Pool)

The State Department on Thursday said that inconclusive elections for Speaker of the House are likely to compound concerns on Capitol Hill over the ability of lawmakers to carry out their duties related to national security and foreign policy. 

The absence of a Speaker of the House — with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy losing at least eight rounds of votes for Speaker — has left lawmakers and members-elect without the credentials to attend briefings or meetings on sensitive and classified information with administration officials. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that lawmakers’ concerns “will be compounded” the longer the House remains without an elected Speaker — necessary to swear in members and authorize committee formations that allow them to participate in foreign policy and national security tasks.

“Well, of course, over time, those concerns, concerns on the part of the members themselves and the members-elect themselves, will be compounded,” Price said.

“The first few days of any Congressional term usually is spent on procedural elements like this but of course, if this continues on, there will be additional concerns. I’m sure we will hear additional concerns from the Hill as well,” Price continued, citing Congress’s role in oversight, appropriations and authorization for different agency and foreign policy actions. 

The spokesperson continued that it is “much more difficult” for the State Department to take “into account the prerogatives and the perspectives of members of both chambers of Congress” when there is not a seated House of Representatives.  

“But this is the process. The process is playing out. And I expect, we can all expect at some point, before too long, the process will conclude.”

GOP lawmakers told The Hill on Thursday that the absence of a Speaker has blocked them from receiving or accessing materials that include information on rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Syria, the current state of Russia’s war in Ukraine and concerns over Taiwan’s security in the face of an aggressive China. 

Tags House Speakership vote Kevin McCarthy National security Ned Price Ned Price

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