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White House downplays national security concerns during Speaker fight

The White House on Friday downplayed concerns about the impact on national security without a House Speaker in place as Republicans in the lower chamber vote for a 12th time to elect a leader.

National security spokesman John Kirby said that “there’s no particular worry or concern,” but added that the White House prefers to “see all of this resolved as soon as possible.”

His comments come after State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that a lack of a Speaker is likely to compound concerns on Capitol Hill over the ability of lawmakers to carry out their duties related to national security and foreign policy. A Speaker is necessary to swear in members and authorize committee formations, which then allows for members to be credentialed to attend briefings or meetings on sensitive and classified information with administration officials.

Kirby said that even without a Speaker elected, there are vehicles in place to communicate as appropriate with both the House and the Senate.

“We’re confident that we can continue to defend the United States of American while House Republicans are working through this process,” he said.

But Kirby added that he doesn’t want to “suggest that there’s not going to be any national security impacts.”

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters on Friday that the White House hopes that the House resolves this soon.

“It has been a couple of days now. And we have important work to do for the American people,” she said.

After four days of voting, Republicans made some movement in Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) direction on Friday and he picked up multiple GOP holdout votes on the 12th ballot.

On Thursday, Price also warned 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.

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