If you don’t know what the Speaker of the House means or who it is, you probably do now with all its coverage these last few weeks. But if you still don’t, I’ll summarize briefly.
The Speaker of the House is the spokesperson for the majority party in the House. Right now, it is the Republican party. They essentially explain legislative action and the parties’ plans to other officials. They also lead business plans and debates to make their legislation look better. Basically, think in a group project, the person you pick to present the work out loud. If the person in the group project was second in line to the presidency after the vice president.
Republican Kevin McCarthy was the Speaker of the House up until Oct. 4, when he was voted to be removed from his position. Republicans had been building up a list of grievances with him throughout the year. For starters, it took 15 rounds of votes for him to enter office, so not many people wanted him in the position in the first place.
He was a part of debt ceiling negotiations with President Joe Biden, but he failed to successfully get his point across, which greatly upset his party. Some even marked this moment as his betrayal of the Republican party, according to USA Today.
“Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., [told] reporters he would consider bringing the motion to vacate to the floor over the debt ceiling deal.” On Sept. 30, the government was at risk of shutting down due to lack of funding, so McCarthy created a plan to increase government funding until November. This plan did not get enough votes, but the fact that he worked alongside Democrats frustrated his party again.
It was Rep. Matt Gaetz who initiated his removal from office, but it was a majority of Democrats who voted to remove him. Eight Republicans and 208 Democrats. Eight does not sound like a lot, but the Washington Post explains it well.
This article states that “Republicans have only a slim majority in the House, so to pass legislation that Democrats oppose—or to keep a speaker the Democrats despise—they have to be nearly unified. They can only afford to lose five Republicans on key votes, and McCarthy lost eight.” It did not help that he wasn’t particularly likable to a majority of the Democratic party as well. He had pretty much nobody on his side.
This is a big deal—it is the first time ever that a Speaker has been removed from the House. The House is required under the Constitution to have a leader, which it does not, so now the House is stuck until it can find a new speaker. They have a temporary speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, but they’re trying to find a new speaker. This is where it starts to affect everyone.
Whoever becomes the next Speaker is one of the faces of the party in Congress, and right now, no one seems to know who it will be. Rep. Jim Jordan ran three times but was recently removed as a possible candidate. Now, the list of nominees consists of Rep. Tom Emmer, Rep. Kevin Hern, Rep. Byron Donalds, Rep. Jack Bergman, Rep. Jodey Arrington, Rep. Mike Johnson and Rep. Pete Sessions.
This is concerning to me, considering the radical views of these representatives. Rep. Tom Emmer seems to be leading the group after Kevin McCarthy endorsed him, but I’m not sure how it’s possible to endorse a man who has made obscene and offensive remarks about abortion rights despite the fact that he is not an election denier and rather middle ground in some aspects.
Rep. Kevin Hern has actively voted against himself, so I’m not sure why they would want someone in office who doesn’t want to be there. Rep. Byron Donalds is a member of an ultra-conservative group called the House Freedom Caucus.
His campaign website actually describes him as “everything the fake news media says doesn’t exist: a Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment black man.” I also want to point out the lack of female Representatives as The House is only 29% female. Very telling.
Kevin McCarthy was no devil’s advocate, but he was willing to work with Democrats regarding the government shutdown, which is what politics is all about. A time when both parties could work together happily is something of the past, causing situations like these. I was particularly nervous when Jim Jordan was the only possible nominee. He not only openly denies the results of the 2020 election but has no experience in putting forth legislation. “This is a guy that has basically made it very clear that his whole goal isn’t to govern, it’s not to legislate, it’s to destroy the Democrats,” said CNN senior political commentator Adam Kinzinger.
I understand McCarthy’s removal from office to an extent. He’s not really a reliable person and he put forth many plans that he just backed away from. However, I believe that some of the reasoning for removing him shows how torn apart our government is.
The eight Republicans who voted against him were never satisfied with what he put forward and got upset over things like negotiating with Democrats or failing to succeed with his discussion with Biden over the debt ceiling. Politics should not be based on someone’s relation to an opposing party.
We live in a world nowadays where a Republican agrees with a Democratic policy, they’re essentially blacklisted. Take Nikki Haley, a Republican running for the Republican presidential nomination. I’m no Nikki Haley fan, but surprisingly, she took a more moderate stance on abortion, saying, “Can’t we all agree that contraception should be accessible?” and “No more demonizing this issue. We’re going to humanize this issue.”
Her comments pleasantly surprised many people, but others made it about parties. One user in X, formerly known as Twitter, said, “The Republicans are off message! All they need to do is tell the truth. But no. They pander to the Dems. Idiots!” Pander to “Dems?” An anti-abortion woman saying that abortion is a personal issue and shouldn’t be controlled by the government automatically makes her bow to Democrats? I’m not old enough to remember a world where we weren’t so divided by party, but I wish I could experience it at some point.
Now, the Republican party has put forth multiple potential speakers who are extremely far-right. Not only is this harmful to members of society whom these representatives are openly trying to take the rights from, but it’s also harmful to our government.
A politician who refuses to work with an opposing party is no politician. They’re a power-hungry individual who can not admit their wrongs. Having someone like this as the Speaker of the House is incredibly damaging to our future, and we need to start paying more attention.