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House Speaker Shocker Controversy
The drama of replacing Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) as the House Speaker began when the incumbent leader shocked his colleagues in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday night by announcing that he would not run for Speaker again – or even hinting at a favored successor.
According to several attendees at the meeting, under the condition of anonymity, as they revealed this without attribution, chaotic events unfolded as disenchanted GOP members immediately formed small groups with like-minded allies, initiating the process of determining what would happen next in the history of the House Speaker role.
This process accelerated on Wednesday when McCarthy’s second-in-command, Representative Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), officially announced his candidacy for House Speaker, much like the long-established tradition of Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Other candidates may join the mix in the coming days, and the scramble for the position has reshaped the ongoing inter-party divisions within the House Republican caucus.
Both Scalise and Jordan are staunch conservatives, but Jordan has played a firebrand role, such as pursuing President Biden’s son Hunter aggressively and refusing to cooperate with the January 6th committee – while Scalise has held a more traditional leadership position within the House GOP, serving as the whip for the Republican Party years ago.
These differences in style can be crucial because the House GOP is attempting to regroup and determine how to present itself in the 2024 elections.
For now, the House remains in turmoil – its leadership is uncertain, its future is unclear, its members are disgruntled – to the extent that the latest government spending measure is set to expire on November 18, another potential shutdown showdown looms, and lawmakers are at odds over whether to continue aid to Ukraine.
Analysis: Self-destructive GOP
Scalise, on Wednesday, made his intentions to run for the top post clear by sending a letter to his colleagues within the conference, stating that he could unite the fractured party by bringing various perspectives together, looking at his proven track record and mending the divided party, where others believe it is impossible. Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and has assisted in founding the far-right Freedom Caucus, criticized “radical progressive policies,” saying, “They’re tearing our communities apart.”
While Congress has been adjourned for the next week, several lawmakers interested in the Speaker’s role and other aspirants looking to advance met in Washington on Wednesday.
Or in the category of Republican leadership. In the interim role, House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC) told the conference that Republicans would gather on Tuesday for a candidate forum and then vote for Speaker during a Wednesday meeting.
If a consensus candidate emerges, which is still highly uncertain amid the ongoing turmoil and division following McCarthy’s ouster, House members could gather on the stage as early as Wednesday morning to begin the Speaker election process.
The inactivity in the House is affecting other branches of the government, as no legislation or other measures can move through the House. Addressing the gridlock, the President said that the federal government has “a lot of work to do” to reach spending agreements in the next few weeks but, “More than anything, we need to change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington.”