The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

What’s A Congress Without a Speaker?

Mark Schiefelbein / AP Photo

For the first time in the United States’ history, the Speaker of the House has been voted out of office. On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the House Democrats, along with eight Republicans, voted to oust Representative Kevin McCarthy. Shortly after being voted out, the California Republican announced he would not run for the position again, according to CNN. These unprecedented events leave not only Congress, but also the entire United States, in a state of ambiguity.

Back in January, it took McCarthy a total of fifteen ballots and a series of concessions to far-right Republicans to be successfully elected Speaker of the House. For the past ten months McCarthy has been seemingly wary of upsetting the far-right. However, after failing to garner enough Republican support on a spending bill that would stave off a government shutdown, McCarthy turned to Democrats by allocating $16 billion to disaster relief aid, as reported by The Guardian. That gave McCarthy well over the necessary votes to pass the bill and delay the possible shutdown. Striking the deal with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown seemed to push the far-right contingent towards ousting the Speaker. 

Shortly after, on Monday, Oct. 2, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz started a motion to remove McCarthy from office, as reported by AP News. The following day, in a 216 to 210 decision, McCarthy lost the speakership he barely attained in the first place.

This vote is so historic because while previous speakers have stepped down from office when they lost their party’s support, Kevin McCarthy is the first speaker to actually be removed through a vote, according to CBS News.

Federal funding is set to run out within the next month and without a Speaker of the House, we once again risk a government shutdown. The House has been frozen without a speaker. Representatives are unable to vote on or advance any sort of legislation. In short, for as long as the House is actively choosing a new speaker, that is the only thing it can do.

After McCarthy’s removal, Speaker Pro Tempore, Patrick McHenry, declared the House in recess before slamming the gavel in an act of frustration. Once the representatives returned to the Capitol, the Republicans held an internal vote to decide who would receive the Speaker nomination. Representative Steve Scalise narrowly won over Representative Jim Jordan, according to Vox. However, the next day, Scalise withdrew from the race after his own party divisions made it highly unlikely he would receive the 217 votes necessary to win the speakership.

Scalise’s withdrawal from the race leaves Jordan as the Republican nomination for Speaker of the House. It is still unclear, however, if Jordan has any better chance of getting those 217 votes. Jordan has served in the House since 2007 and has become a close Trump ally, according to Reuters. He continually defended Trump during both of his impeachments and, most recently, Trump has voiced his support for Jordan’s speakership nomination. 

If McCarthy was able to strike a deal with Democrats to keep the government open, then what prevented him from making a deal with them to keep his speakership? The problem with McCarthy turning to Democrats for support was that he had perhaps already upset some of his Republican colleagues, so by trying to get Democrats to replace those votes, he risked losing even more Republican support. 

The same is true when it comes to the next speaker race, as Jordan will likely have to gain support from the far-right, as opposed to moderate Democrats. This means concessions to the far-right will be necessary to obtain speakership and any failure to uphold these promises will result in a fate similar to McCarthy’s. 

The House Republicans’ inability to choose and maintain a Speaker of the House should be a warning sign of the upcoming 2024 election to the GOP. Rampant internal party division could cause the GOP to lose the Presidential election, according to The New York Times. If the Republican nomination for Presidency is disliked by either the far-right or moderate flank, it would cost the candidate valuable votes in an already close election.

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