Wednesday 11 October 2023

House Democrats Pick Nominee For Speaker As GOP Hears From Candidates

 House Democrats nominated Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for speaker on Tuesday as Republicans held a forum for its candidates.

Party leaders said members voted “unanimously” to renominate Jeffries, who was also the Democrats’ pick in January when the House eventually settled on Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker after 15 contentious rounds of voting.

In a statement, Jeffries thanked his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus for their support and urged “traditional Republicans” to break from “MAGA extremism” to create an “enlightened, bipartisan coalition.”

Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the House, held a forum on Tuesday to hear from their candidates for speaker. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) are facing off as the two declared GOP contenders. Though McCarthy said he urged his supporters not to nominate him, at least one GOP House member — Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) — said he will vote for McCarthy anyway.

A Republican internal election for speaker is expected to take place on Wednesday morning, but after the forum on Tuesday, it was not clear whether either Jordan or Scalise had sufficient support to win their party’s nomination. Ultimately, a simple majority will be needed to win the speaker’s gavel in a chamber-wide vote.

Upon leaving the GOP forum, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) said there were “50/50 odds” of a speaker being chosen on Wednesday, according to CNN. A far less optimistic Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said he “put it at 2%” that Republicans can settle on a speaker by Wednesday, per NBC News.

A single member — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — triggered a no-confidence vote in McCarthy last week over objections to his leadership. Gaetz was joined by seven fellow Republicans and the Democrats in successfully removing the speaker from the role.


The unprecedented series of events has led to debate about whether to change or get rid of the “motion to vacate” rule that resulted in McCarthy’s ouster, as well as to revamp GOP conference rules governing the threshold for picking a nominee.

Despite uncertainty on the GOP side as to whether the conference can unite around a specific candidate, there is a sense of urgency as Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who is serving as speaker pro tempore in the short term, is limited in what he can do in the role.

One leading issue is government spending, with a government shutdown possible in mid-November if lawmakers cannot come to an agreement after a six-week continuing resolution expires.

Then there is Israel’s war on Hamas after the militant group’s deadly attack from Gaza over the weekend. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said he expects a bipartisan resolution declaring support for Israel “to be one of the first, if not the first items considered on the floor once we elect a new Speaker.”

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