Stabbing in the dark for a Speaker of the House of Representatives

Gilead

Speaker of the House of Representatives


Fig. 1. Photograph credited to Office of Congressman Kevin McCarthy, date inconsistent with title but given as November 9, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

There is a new blog post entitled, “Can Oregon help elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives?

Kevin McCarthy has now lost eleven votes in this campaign for the speakership:[1]

[Kevin] McCarthy has yet to convert a single member to his column since the 118th Congress first convened Tuesday and began voting to elect a speaker. In fact, his total vote count has fallen from its height of 203 Tuesday to 200 by the ninth ballot Thursday, when one of his supporters began missing the roll call. . . .

McCarthy remains 16 votes shy of being elected speaker. Several members of the so-called “Never Kevin” caucus — which includes [Matt] Gaetz and [Lauren] Boebert — say they will never support McCarthy in a floor vote, calling into question whether he has a plausible path to the job at all.[2]

There’s lots of talk of a deal,[3] but if Tina Nguyen is right, then McCarthy cannot win the speakership because his detractors see this battle as personal and aren’t moved[4] even by concessions that emasculate the Speaker. There is a risk, as well, that crossing what had previously been “red lines,” particularly on committee assignments, including on who will chair those committees, will alienate some of McCarthy’s current backers.[5] Meanwhile, Tara Palmeri sees a bit more substance behind the smoke signals she’s been seeing where Steve Scalise ends up getting the nod.[6]

For now, the prudent bet is no bet at all. I remain deeply skeptical that McCarthy can pull this out, but Palmeri[7] aside, I’m just not seeing any pickup on the idea of Scalise stepping in, and it’s not like folks have never heard of him. I honestly think we’re just stabbing in the dark when it comes to what happens if, as it seems he eventually must, McCarthy withdraws.

Natalie Andrews and Eliza Collins, “Kevin McCarthy Falls Short of House Speaker Win in Three Rounds of Voting,” Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-prepares-to-vote-for-speaker-as-kevin-mccarthy-tries-to-rally-support-11672750973

Aaron Blake, “McCarthy’s big concession — and how it could hamstring a GOP speaker,” Washington Post, January 3, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/01/03/motion-vacate-house-speaker/

John Cassidy, “Behind the Humiliation of Kevin McCarthy,” New Yorker, January 3, 2023, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/behind-the-humiliation-of-kevin-mccarthy

Clare Foran et al., “House adjourns after chaotic day without electing a speaker as McCarthy fails to lock down votes,” Cable News Network, January 3, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/03/politics/house-speaker-vote-mccarthy/index.html

Tara Palmeri, “We Need to Talk About Kevin, ” Puck News, January 3, 2023, https://puck.news/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin/

Clare Foran et al., “House adjourns for second day without electing a speaker with McCarthy’s bid in peril,” Cable News Network, January 4, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/04/politics/kevin-mccarthy-speaker-vote/index.html

Molly Jong-Fast, “The Kevin McCarthy Mess Is Peak Trumpism,” Vanity Fair, January 4, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/01/kevin-mccarthy-speaker-vote-gop-trumpism

Nolan D. McCaskill, “Deadlocked House adjourns until evening after Kevin McCarthy racks up yet another defeat,” Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-01-04/trump-mccarthy-speaker-votes

Tara Palmeri, “Scalise Smoke Signals,” Puck News, January 4, 2023, https://puck.news/scalise-smoke-signals/

Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, “The House hard-liners blocking McCarthy aren’t listening to Trump,” Washington Post, January 4, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/01/04/trump-mccarthy-speaker/

Dan Zak and Ben Terris, “Does the House even exist right now?” Washington Post, January 4, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/01/04/house-of-representatives-in-purgatory-without-speaker/

Olivia Beavers et al., “McCarthy nears tentative deal with conservatives after days of stalemate,” Politico, January 5, 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/05/mccarthy-bid-00076520

Nolan D. McCaskill, “Historic deadlock continues: McCarthy takes another loss on 11th speaker ballot,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-01-05/mccarthy-speaker-thursday-votes

Tina Nguyen, “McCarthy’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” Puck News, January 5, 2023, https://puck.news/mccarthys-chronicle-of-a-death-foretold/


  1. [1]Nolan D. McCaskill, “Historic deadlock continues: McCarthy takes another loss on 11th speaker ballot,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-01-05/mccarthy-speaker-thursday-votes
  2. [2]Nolan D. McCaskill, “Historic deadlock continues: McCarthy takes another loss on 11th speaker ballot,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-01-05/mccarthy-speaker-thursday-votes
  3. [3]Olivia Beavers et al., “McCarthy nears tentative deal with conservatives after days of stalemate,” Politico, January 5, 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/05/mccarthy-bid-00076520; Nolan D. McCaskill, “Historic deadlock continues: McCarthy takes another loss on 11th speaker ballot,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-01-05/mccarthy-speaker-thursday-votes
  4. [4]Tina Nguyen, “McCarthy’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” Puck News, January 5, 2023, https://puck.news/mccarthys-chronicle-of-a-death-foretold/
  5. [5]Olivia Beavers et al., “McCarthy nears tentative deal with conservatives after days of stalemate,” Politico, January 5, 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/05/mccarthy-bid-00076520
  6. [6]Tara Palmeri, “Scalise Smoke Signals,” Puck News, January 4, 2023, https://puck.news/scalise-smoke-signals/
  7. [7]Tara Palmeri, “We Need to Talk About Kevin, ” Puck News, January 3, 2023, https://puck.news/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin/; Tara Palmeri, “Scalise Smoke Signals,” Puck News, January 4, 2023, https://puck.news/scalise-smoke-signals/

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