Quick Thoughts

Chaos in the House

Something that hasn’t been explored too much in this blog so far is my love of history and politics. I’m very opinionated politically but I actively try to not force my opinions on others. I do enjoy, however, discussing politics and the strategies of same with people on my side of the issue as well as on different sides of an issue.

So when things happen like what's going on in the House of Representatives, I completely nerd out.

For those unaware, the 2022 midterm elections saw the Republicans take a slight majority in the lesser chamber, 222-213. Now if you're not up on your math skills that means 218 votes on anything would be a majority.

Now, the first thing that happens at the beginning of a new Congress in the House is the selection of the Speaker of the House. This is a critical role not only because this person sets some of the rules for the House, decides which bills get to the floor to be voted on, etc. but also because this person is second in the line for the presidency, should something happen to both the President and the Vice-President.

This should be a non-issue since this is as simple as Republicans just deciding on someone and forcing them through to victory using their majority.


That's not how it went. 19 Republicans decided that the favorite, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, didn't work for them and intentionally voted for others, thereby making it so no one reached a majority of votes.

This is significant because a second ballot hasn't been required to decide the Speaker since 1923. That election took nine ballots. This situation has gone through three ballots so far and neither side seems ready to back down.

Now, this is somewhat funny to me because the American people gave a majority to the GOP, yet they can't use their majority to do the most basic of governing. At least, not yet.

I'm curious as to how this ends. Do these 19 "rebels" relent and let McCarthy assume the role of Speaker? Does McCarthy relent and take himself out of the running and back another person for Speaker instead? Do some more liberal members of the Republican Party break with their party and vote Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York - the Democratic candidate - as Speaker? That last one might seem incredibly unlikely but he consistently got all Democratic votes (212) in each of the three ballots already cast. That means he would only need six defectors to be the Speaker of a House where his party is not in the majority. That would be incredibly interesting.

But, it might end up being simpler than that. The majority vote that is required is not of the entire House body but rather of the members present in the chamber at the time of the vote. Therefore, if some of the members just left during the vote (or voted "present" and not for a candidate) the number required for a majority would be reduced. That could lead to McCarthy becoming Speaker just as easily as it could lead to Jeffries becoming Speaker depending on who exactly left the chamber during the vote and their party leaning.

Here is another wrinkle to this that would be the most interesting scenario. The Constitution states in Article I, Section II that the House “shall chuse [sic] their Speaker and other officers” but offers nothing in the way of how to do this or the requirements for such a person. This means that while all candidates need to be nominated by members of the House, they don't need to be elected lawmakers from the House themselves. So far, the chamber has only ever chosen a member to be Speaker but the possibility does exist for the election of someone from outside the House.

If no one has the votes from the GOP to get to that magic number of 218 one wonders if members start to look for a non-House member that can unify their party. Could be a former Speaker, a former Senator, or even a former President.

Yes, that guy. I doubt it would happen but there is a weird unlikely path here that could see Donald Trump become the Speaker of the House and second in line for the presidency behind the Vice-President. However, given his eye being on the 2024 election and the demands of the role of Speaker, I think we can rest relatively easy that this scenario won't come to fruition.

If I had to guess an outcome, I'd say that McCarthy will not become Speaker and some other member of the House viewed as more palatable to the "rebels" becomes Speaker instead.

This whole situation is history in the making so however it goes down, I'll be watching every minute of it.