Sunday 15 October 2023

Four House Democrats suggest expanding speaker pro tempore's power amid speakership limbo

 In a letter to House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), four Democratic lawmakers called for increasing the powers of the speaker pro tempore in order to enable the chamber to take action on issues like averting a possible government shutdown.

"Unless and until a Speaker of the House is elected, Congress should implement temporary, expanded authorities -- at fifteen calendar day increments -- directing the Speaker Pro Tempore to bring before the House proposed legislation only covering the following specific areas," the letter reads. Politico, which reported that it obtained the letter, posted the document online. 

The letter went on to list items, including, "Foreign aid emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine and Israel," "An extension of the current continuing resolution through January 11, 2024, to prevent a looming government shutdown," as well as "Committee and floor consideration of remaining FY24 appropriations bills."

"Additionally, the Speaker Pro Tempore should be granted the authority to introduce suspension bills evenly distributed between the majority and minority caucuses. This will help us avoid Rules Committee gridlock," the letter continued. 

The Democrats who signed the letter included Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Ed Case of Hawaii, Susie Lee of Nevada, and Jared Golden of Maine. 

The House has been paralyzed without a speaker since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted from the role, and so far, Republicans have failed to agree on a replacement.

Earlier this week, Republicans voted 113-99 to nominate House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) over Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for the speakership, with eight voting for others and three voting present, according to ABC News. But Scalise ultimately dropped out of contention. Then on Friday, after Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) threw his hat into the ring, House Republicans voted 124-81 in favor of nominating Jordan (R-Ohio). But Jordan would need to command a much larger amount of GOP support in order to lock up the speakership in a House vote.

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