The US House of Representatives has adjourned after six votes over two days failed to produce a new speaker.
The lower house must elect a new leader after the Republicans took control of it in the midterm elections in November, securing a slim 222-212 majority.
In a second day of voting on Wednesday, representatives failed to back Republican Kevin McCarthy as Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s replacement.
Despite a call for unity from former president Donald Trump, about 20 Republicans on the party’s right refused to support Mr McCarthy for ideological reasons.
Despite being the top Republican in the House since 2019, he secured only 201 of the 218 votes needed, while 20 Republicans voted for Byron Donalds, who was first elected in 2020.
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day,” Representative Kat Cammack said as she nominated Mr McCarthy on the sixth ballot.
“To all Americans watching right now, we hear you. And we will get through this – no matter how messy,” she added.
The last time the House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot was a century ago, in 1923.
President Biden said the “rest of the world is looking” at events on Capitol Hill. “I just think it’s really embarrassing it’s taking so long,” he added.
Why the Republicans are struggling to pick a new House speaker
Mr Donalds told Fox News the “path is very difficult right now for Kevin”, but Mr McCarthy told reporters the “conversation will continue” and “we’ll get there”.
In further comments, Ms Donalds said: “This is actually an invigorating day for America. There’s a lot of members in the chamber who want to have serious conversations about how we can bring this all to a close and elect a speaker.”
There are predictions the leadership race could last for weeks.
“It’s worth taking a few days or a few weeks to get the best possible speaker,” said Republican Representative Bob Good.
The House has adjourned until 1am UK time on Thursday.