The US House may not have a speaker when it convenes. Here’s why | Elections News

Washington DC – The election for the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives – which is often a formality – is a thrilling event this year.

Although the Republican Party narrows home win in the November midterm elections, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy did not have a guaranteed majority to take the helm amid opposition from some members of his own caucus.

So, when the upcoming Parliament meets for the first time on Tuesday, the majority may not support the new Speaker of the House. And that, in turn, will practically render the room inactive.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives plays an important role in the US government. Speakers not only preside over the lower house of Congress but they are second to the president, ready to lead the country if neither the president nor the vice president can serve.

The last time a Speaker was not elected on the first roll call was exactly 100 years ago. If that happens again on Tuesday, House lawmakers will hold further rounds of voting until a candidate can secure the required number of votes.

Christian Fong, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, said whoever is elected Speaker has “major influence over what kinds of bills and amendments are voted on in Congress.” That “gives them enormous control over what becomes law”.

While lawmakers from both parties have spoken out against the Speaker’s growing power, Fong foresees a particularly difficult path to trouble for McCarthy.

“It’s very thin [Republican] majority, so it only takes a small group of determined representatives to really get together and pose a credible threat to prevent the election of the Speaker,” Mr. Fong told Al Jazeera.

How did we get here

Republicans have 222 seats in the upcoming House of Representatives – a tiny majority in the 435-member chamber. With Democrats almost certain to vote against McCarthy, a handful of Republicans can ensure he doesn’t get the 218 votes needed to replace the incoming Democrat. discharge. Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Some far-right Republicans have promised not to support McCarthy, seeing him as a professional politician who doesn’t share their populist ideals.

Pelosi herself must face internal opposition when she was re-elected as Speaker in 2021, with House Democrats also holding a slim majority at the time. However, she managed to hold onto the hammer even though two centrist members of her caucus nominated other candidates and three others voted “present” as a form of protest. opposite to.

“One reason you don’t see much opposition to the Speaker of the House in the modern era is that the Speaker controls all kinds of precious resources that the members of the House really want,” Fong said.

“Committee duties are a prime example,” he explains. “Campaign funds are another matter.”

But McCarthy faces the challenge that many of his right-wing opponents in the Republican Party simply “don’t care much” about the perks the Speaker can offer, Fong said.

Many of McCarthy’s Republican critics come from so-called “safe districts,” where they face few serious opponents during election season. And some of them have strong political backgrounds, making them less reliant on Speakers for fundraising, media access, and other support.

The initial trouble for McCarthy underscores a major problem he may face as Speaker: Extremely powerful members who could threaten to obliterate the Republican majority in one place. effective way if they don’t go their way.

McCarthy’s agenda

McCarthy negotiated with politicians opposed to his Speaker bid, offering concessions that would reduce his own power. He has promised to focus on right-wing priorities, including investigating the business practices of President Joe Biden’s son, Biden Hunter — an issue that Democrats dismiss as a conspiracy theory.

McCarthy, a California Republican, has also called for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign over his handling of the case. migration at the southern border and threatened to investigate and impeach him.

Furthermore, he promised to restore the Georgia congresswoman’s committee duties Marjorie Taylor Greenewho was removed from the parliamentary panel in 2021 for his anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic comments.

Greene was one of the few far-right supporters to back his bid for the speaker position.

“If Kevin McCarthy becomes Speaker of the House, it is because he has given the power to run his caucus to Marjorie Taylor Greene and the most MAGA Republicans,” the Democratic Party wrote on Twitter on Monday. , using the former President’s acronym. by Donald Trump slogan “Make America Great Again”.

Still, other conservative Republicans showed no sign of budging.

“The timing calls for a complete departure from the status quo — not a continuation of the Republican Party’s past and ongoing failures,” a group of nine ultra-conservative House members said in a statement. An announcement. statement on Sunday.

“For someone who has served 14 years as the senior Republican leader in the House, McCarthy is solely responsible for correcting the dysfunction that he has now explicitly acknowledged in his administration. throughout that long term.”

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz helped lead the right-wing dissent against McCarthy, and he accused the Republican leader of “surrendering to the liberals” and contributing his party’s impressive performance in the November election.

“In sports, when a team loses a game that should have been won, the coach is fired. In business, when earnings exceed expectations, the CEO gets replaced,” Gaetz wrote in conservative publication The Daily Caller last month.

“In Republican politics, promotion is not the pursuit of failure.”

By Monday, politicians in the so-called “never Kevin” faction were confident they could thwart McCarthy’s bid to be a speaker. Republican congressman Andy Biggs wrote on Twitter: “I don’t believe he will get 218 votes and I refuse to support him in his efforts to win those votes.

What do GOP rebels want?

McCarthy still has hours to secure the necessary votes, and his GOP critics have no viable replacement to take the hammer.

So what are McCarthy’s opponents?

Fong, a political science professor, said right-wing lawmakers see an opportunity to strengthen their position and shift power away from the eventual President, allowing them to have a greater say in the legislative process. France.

“They see that they have some real leverage to try to get through some rule changes. They have put themselves in a really difficult bargaining position,” he said.

Brendan Buck, a communications consultant who has worked for Republican speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, also believes that Republican politicians opposed to McCarthy want to undermine — not select — the speaker. next.

Buck wrote in a magazine essay New York Times in Monday. “Members of the dissent believe that a weak speaker makes them stronger. In fact, it doesn’t benefit anyone.”


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