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CNN — The immediate, unanswered question facing the US government is which Republican lawmaker can untie this knot, unite their party and reopen the House of Representatives.

The larger issue that may be even more difficult for Republicans to solve is figuring out what they even stand for at this point. Is it the party of limited government or the party that can’t figure out how to govern?

Tuesday marks three full weeks without a House speaker and 24 days until the government runs out of money, to say nothing of aid packages many lawmakers want for Israel and Ukraine.

No legislation can move until lawmakers select a speaker, and they’re way beyond a Goldilocks search for just the right candidate.

► A small minority was able to fire Rep. Kevin McCarthy (for being too willing to rely on Democrats to avoid a government shutdown).

► Rep. Steve Scalise ended his campaign early (he was too unwilling to make concessions to secure votes among holdouts).

► Rep. Jim Jordan failed despite an intense pressure campaign and former President Donald Trump’s blessing (he was incapable of convincing a small number of moderates).

Most Republicans voted for all three men as speaker, but the outside edges of the party were too big to get a majority.

Maybe a fresh face will do the trick

The idea of Republicans and Democrats working together still has not gained momentum, and neither has giving some temporary power to the placeholder Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry.

Now, nine other Republicans have raised their hands and will make their case to colleagues in a closed-door meeting Monday evening. The only current member of the House leadership pursuing the speaker’s gavel is Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the GOP whip.

CNN’s Stephen Collinson lays out the rest of the all-male candidate lineup, which doesn’t include any household names:

  • Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee.
  • Jack Bergman of Michigan, a mainstream conservative and Marine veteran.
  • Austin Scott of Georgia, who launched a last-minute bid against Jordan last week but quickly dropped out.
  • Byron Donalds of Florida, a rising star Freedom Caucus member and one of the few Black Republicans in Congress.
  • Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the GOP conference vice chairman.
  • Pete Sessions of Texas, a congressional veteran who lost his seat in 2018 and soon returned to represent another one.
  • Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, a former Pennsylvania secretary of revenue and member of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
  • Gary Palmer of Alabama, who chairs the Republican Policy Committee.

A lot of different views

It will be the GOP conference’s umpteenth gathering in recent weeks, and a wide variety of positions will be on display, as CNN’s Dana Bash noted on “Inside Politics” when she sorted the candidates by some key recent votes.

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