Seven Reasons a Bipartisan Speaker Seems Inevitable
To become Speaker of the House, a candidate requires the support of 217 Members of Congress (it’s not 218 votes due to a vacant House seat.)
If either of the two declared candidates, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan or Majority Leader Steve Scalise, lose the backing of five or more votes, the GOP reaches a deadlock. They would then need to compromise, or neither candidate would achieve the required 217 votes.
In simpler terms, if there are at least five members on opposing sides of an issue, and neither side will back a candidate who disagrees with them, the GOP House Conference is in a stalemate, unable to secure the necessary 217 votes.
As far as I can tell, there are at least seven contentious issues within the House GOP, which are:
- Motion to Vacate: At least 90 GOP members prioritize preventing a small group of GOP members from collaborating with Democrats to unseat the Speaker. However, those who previously exercised this leverage might be reluctant to relinquish it now.
- Funding for Ukraine: Divisions exist regarding aid to Ukraine. For instance, Rep. MTG’s Speaker vote is heavily influenced by this issue.
- Personal Differences: Personal animosities and previous disputes can sway votes. Due to such issues, at least five members might not support either Jordan or Scalise.
- Effort to Impeach the President: Are there five on either side of this issue that would not support a Speaker who does not back their view? Probably.
- Supporter or Not of Trump: Former President Trump’s endorsement of Chairman Jordan could be another internally divisive issue that produces more than five votes — one side does not want a die-hard Trump supporter to be Speaker, and the other side that does not want a Speaker who is not a die-hard Trump supporter.
- Government Spending: Promises made by McCarthy with regard to passing massive spending cuts and individual appropriation bills was the proximate cause of the motion to vacate. Will those who secured these promises vote for a Speaker who does not — and conversely, what of those who want “clean” appropriation bills without extensive social or other policies, and who want more spending, or at least, not as large cuts?
- SALT: The New York and New Jersey GOP House moderates need some tax relief from the $10,000 deductible cap of State and Local Taxes in the Trump tax cut bill, and have already stopped the House GOP Tax Bill on behalf of their voters. A SALT fix is already a condition of the moderate support (or not) of the House Tax Cut bill, and will likely be a condition of supporting Jordan or Scalise for Speaker.
If any of these seven issues deter at least five members from supporting either Jordan or Scalise, neither candidate can achieve the 217-vote mark.
It seems likely that a combination of these issues will likely produce five hard Nos for each Chairman Jordan and Majority Leader Scalise.
In this Congress, during times of uncertainty, political instability, and stress, a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans – what Senator Lee and others have dubbed “the uniparty” or “The Firm” — has emerged to raise the debt limit or to avoid a government shutdown.
As we approach the potential shutdown before Thanksgiving, many GOP members are insisting on individual appropriation bills over a collective Continuing Resolution (CR).
Yet, this “uniparty” passed a short-term CR to keep the government open and functioning.
Why wouldn’t this coalition form again if the GOP can’t consolidate 217 votes for a Speaker?
In other words, a bipartisan Speaker seems inevitable when the GOP can’t unite behind a candidate.
This is my second attempt to explain this outcome (the first attempt, in the form of an info-graphic flow chart, can be found here).
Some believe I am writing about this because I want it to happen.
Others believe I am writing about it to prevent it from happening.
Actually, I am writing about it because it seems to be the most likely thing to happen.
On the other hand, many in the House GOP are acknowledging the difficulty in one of the candidates receiving 217 votes on the House floor and are now talking about McCarthy being re-elected, if the GOP is deadlocked.
Nah. The early word on the street is that McCarthy does not have the votes, and is not likely going to have the votes, to be Speaker again.