There is still no president of the House. What happens now? | ET REALITY


The House will return to Washington on Monday without a speaker and with no solution in sight to the Republican dispute that has left the seat vacant and the chamber paralyzed for nearly two weeks.

Rep. Jim Jordan, a far-right Republican from Ohio and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, became his party’s latest designated chairman on Friday, after a majority of Republicans voted in a secret ballot to name him their party’s nominee. But Jordan, who is popular with the Republican base and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is well short of the 217 votes he would need to be elected, amid resistance from many more traditional Republicans.

With Republicans scheduled to return to town on Monday, the only thing that was clear was that it would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for any candidate to get the necessary votes.

Here’s a look at what’s coming next:

The House is scheduled to meet on Monday at 6 p.m., and Republicans have announced that the first votes of the week will take place on Tuesday at noon, meaning the presidential election could take place then. It would be almost exactly two weeks after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the presidency by a small far-right faction. Jordan is trying to act quickly, and his allies spent the weekend pressuring Republicans who oppose him to fall in line.

So far, the math hasn’t added up for Jordan. In a secret ballot Friday after his nomination, 55 Republicans said they would oppose Jordan in the House. That put Jordan in a position similar to Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second Republican who first won the speaker nomination last week after McCarthy’s ouster but then quickly withdrew from consideration after he failed to consolidate enough support to be elected to the full House.

Jordan’s allies hope many of the holdouts will give in during a floor vote, unwilling to publicly oppose a Trump-backed candidate who has the support of the party’s rank and file. But some Republicans have vowed to block Jordan’s promotion. If he lacks the support to prevail, Jordan could easily postpone the vote, just as he did on Friday. He could also try to resolve it in multiple rounds of voting, as McCarthy did in January. Or he could follow Mr. Scalise’s lead and simply abandon it altogether.

The process of electing a new president is transparent and low-tech, as the world learned in January during McCarthy’s once-in-a-century fight to win the gavel. The entire House of Representatives gathers in the chamber and lawmakers cast their votes in alphabetical order, standing up and calling out a name. Whoever gets the majority of those present and participants wins the race.

If the entire House is in attendance, that means a candidate needs at least 217 votes to be elected president. (There are currently 433 House members and two vacancies.) The math can change if there are absences or if a legislator votes “present” instead of supporting a candidate.

If no one manages to meet that threshold, the House simply continues holding elections until someone does. Typically, a speaker has been chosen after a floor vote. But if that proves impossible, the process can drag on indefinitely. McCarthy only prevailed after five days and 15 votes.

All 212 House Democrats are expected to vote as a united bloc for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, just as they did in January. There is virtually no chance any of them will help elect Jordan, a far-right figure whom a former president of his own party has called a “legislative terrorist” and whom many Democrats consider a partisan extremist who helped instigate the 6 January 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Jeffries has proposed the idea of ​​forming a coalition government that he describes as an “enlightened agreement.” But the idea is a long shot. And given that he has more votes than any Republican seeking the presidency, it is highly unlikely that Jeffries will agree to concede to a Republican candidate without substantial concessions.

Jeffries said Democrats would join Republicans in electing a president only if they agreed to change House rules to allow “governance by consensus”; in other words, allowing bills to be introduced with bipartisan support. The Rules Committee, which determines what legislation is voted on, is now structured so that Republicans have full control of the bills the House considers. That means Democratic priorities are almost always blocked and the far right effectively has veto power over what is considered and what is not.

On Sunday, Jeffries said “informal conversations have been held” but declined to offer details about what a power-sharing deal would look like.

Legislative business in the House has been suspended for two weeks as Republicans struggle to unite behind a president. That includes working on legislation to fund the government and avoid a shutdown that will begin in about a month if no action is taken. Also frozen is any consideration of an aid package to Israel, something President Biden has said is an urgent priority after the Hamas terrorist group launched one of the widest incursions into Israeli territory in 50 years.

Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina serves as “speaker pro tempore,” a position created after the attacks of September 11, 2001, to ensure continuity of government should the president be assassinated or incapacitated. The position has never been tested, and until now, McHenry and House aides have interpreted the role very narrowly, simply as an incumbent presiding over the election of a new president.

Some more centrist Republican lawmakers have been working on a resolution that would explicitly give McHenry the power to introduce legislation, giving her nascent role more clearly defined authority.

Doing so would require a vote, and it’s not clear Republicans would agree to such a move. Many on the far right would consider empowering McHenry, one of McCarthy’s closest allies, to be equivalent to reinstating McCarthy as president. It’s also unclear whether Democrats would support him unless they committed to addressing his legislative priorities.

Another option would be for McHenry to simply try to introduce a bill, and if a lawmaker questioned his power to do so, the issue would come up for a vote in the House. If an overwhelming majority favored such a measure – for example, one that would provide aid to Israel or keep government funds flowing to avoid a shutdown – the House could act.

Leave a Comment