Steve Scalise says drops out of race for U.S. House speaker

(Reuters) – Steve Scalise, who had secured the Republican Party’s nomination to be the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives but was short of the 217 votes needed to be elected on the House floor, has dropped out of the race, he said on Thursday.

“I just shared with my colleagues that I was withdrawing my name as a candidate that our speaker designee,” he told reporters.

“If you look at over the last few weeks, if you look at where our conference is, there is still work to be done…..There are still some people that have their own agendas.”

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives spent hours in closed-door talks on Thursday but failed to resolve divisions that have prevented them from installing Scalise as speaker of the chamber, which has been leaderless for nine days.

Scalise, the No.2 House Republican, had secured his party’s nomination to replace ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Republicans can afford no more than four defections as they control the House by a narrow 221-212 margin.

(Reporting by Daivd Morgan and Eric Beech; writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Caitlin Webber)