More Thoughts On The House Speaker

It’s been eight days since my last post and it hasn’t gotten any better. Last week I wrote that House Republicans ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy because eight ulta conservative members didn’t like the job he was doing. They didn’t feel his promises could be trusted and they didn’t like the fact that he worked with President Biden and House Democrats to keep the government open.

Since then two things have happened: Hamas (the governing authority in Gaza) opened fire and stormed into Israel. There they killed and kidnapped Israeli citizens; the number keeps changing. The United States has always seen Israel as a longtime ally and ordinarily we’d help them. But without a functioning House of Representatives we can’t send them any aid.

Also the Republicans don’t appear any closer to find a Speaker candidate they can all support. As I said last week they removed Kevin McCarthy without having a clear successor. Within a few days two Representatives announced their candidacy: Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. They both hoped they would garner the support of enough members to win a floor vote of all 433 members; there are normally 435 members but 2 seats are vacant. Since all 212 Democrats will almost certainly vote for the House Minority Leader Hakeen Jeffries of New York, any Republican candidate must get 213 votes out of the 221 members, leaving only a 4 vote margin. When Republicans voted on a secret ballot 113 members voted for Scalise and 99 for Jordan. Scalise hoped that after this he could convince 100 members to then coalesce behind him. When it didn’t happen he pulled his name from contention.

Still with me? Good. When Steve Scalise pulled out, Representative Austin Scott of Georgia announced he would run. Again on a secret ballot 124 members voted for Jordan and 81 for Scott; Jordan asked for another secret ballot and he gained a few votes but not nearly enough. This vote was 152 to 55.

Now let’s make this more complicated. These votes among Republicans were secret ballots but when they actually cast votes for Speaker they vote in public. Former President Trump backs Jim Jordan and has always made it clear that he has zero tolerance for disloyalty. It’s generally assumed that several members will vote for Jordan just to avoid angering Trump. But again, if more than 4 of them don’t vote for a candidate he won’t win.

Democrats are, as you would expect, taking a back seat and are seeing this as a Republican problem. But a “do nothing” Congress has real consequences. As I said earlier the government is set to run out of money on November 17th. With no Speaker the House cannot pass any legislation. That means no laws can be passed and no money can be directed to Ukraine or Israel.

For me the largest problem is this: there does not appear any Republican who can gain enough support. It was McCarthy, then Scalise, now Jordan and Scott. A small group of conservative Republicans don’t appear to be aware of the chaos they are causing and the damage they are doing. They appear to enjoy the limelight and crave job security above all else. They claim to demand that government do fewer things and do them better but their actions belie a different agenda. I pray that good sense begin to take over and they get back to their jobs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *