Typically, most elections for the Speaker of the House of Representatives are completed in one or two votes, but with the current GOP one can see the results of infighting that have come home to roost. After a long, tense three weeks of an immobilized House, the vacancy left by Kevin McCarthy’s ousting as Speaker has been filled. With Republicans holding 221 seats, as opposed to the Democrats’ 212, the simple majority of 217 votes necessary for victory didn’t give the GOP much wiggle room for disagreements, or else the House of Representatives could be immobilized again.
As of Oct. 25, the disagreements had been settled amid building pressure to get a Speaker, with Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) elected.
While this was happening, Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry held McCarthy’s old position. There were potential concerns about McHenry being able to influence the Nov. 17 vote on funding allocations to prevent another potential government shutdown. The immobilization of the chamber also put a hold on new legislation.
Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) bid for the position went nowhere after three rounds of voting. This raised the possibility that the speaker election could take as long as McCarthy’s, which needed 15 ballots before securing a leader for the Speaker’s office.
After Jordan’s third unsuccessful ballot on Oct. 19, there was a plan, with support from Jordan, to empower McHenry to remain in his position until January to allow the House to function while Jordan worked to rally GOP support. The idea of a temporary solution was not well received, and that plan failed when Republicans, in a secret ballot, voted to remove Jordan from consideration. Moderates didn’t want the Speaker to be necessarily directly tied to Trump. CNN even described Jordan as having “a longstanding reputation as a conservative agitator,” evidenced by his objection to the Electoral College results of the 2020 election.
Johnson, like Jordan, objected to the results of the 2020 election and is a Trump ally. However, with mounting pressure to elect a Speaker before a government shutdown, conservatives rallied around Johnson and he received 220 votes.
In the face of a paralyzed House, the GOP held a candidate forum on Oct. 23 and then on Oct. 24 the GOP briefly selected Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) as the new candidate. Emmer quickly dropped out of the race, after drawing the same hard-line detractors McCarthy faced. Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election results, which appeased the moderates in the GOP who voted against Jordan on the grounds of his vote against certification and his attempts at harassment of detractors.
With the House finally alive again, it has passed a resolution on the conflict in Israel condemning Hamas and backing the Israeli government.
Unfortunately, this infighting in the GOP has immobilized the House during a tense three weeks globally. Now that the House is back in session, it is likely that they will come back with energy to focus on implementing Johnson’s conservative ideals. Observers predict that Johnson, an ardent Evangelical, will certainly work on legislation concerning abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. His concerning statements around the recent mass shooting in Maine point to future legislation against gun control as well. Americans are left wondering if the United States just tipped a little closer towards a theocracy, and perhaps if the infighting in the GOP will immobilize our government again down the road.