How McCarthy’s bid for Speaker could turn into a mess

Choosing a house speaker on the floor of the room is usually a largely ceremonial exercise with no surprises.

But if Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, can’t quell an uprising among hard-right lawmakers before Tuesday’s vote, the result could be a spiral of chaos on the House floor not seen in a century. .

Even though lawmakers have to vote more than once, Mr. McCarthy has promised.

Every speaker Since 1923 It managed to win after one vote, but the House’s long history has a precedent for tumultuous elections. For example, in 1855, it took two months and 133 votes to elect a Speaker, and Representative Nathaniel B. of Massachusetts. Banks won, with a House divided by front divisions.

Here’s what you need to know about the election.

On the first day of a new House session, the first thing lawmakers have to do is elect a new Speaker. This will happen before the newly elected representatives take office, and other business must be resolved before resuming.

Lawmakers will meet on the House floor, and leaders from each party will nominate a candidate for speaker. In this situation, Republicans Mr. McCarthy and Democrats will nominate Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

The Clerk of the House will then proceed to an alphabetical roll-call vote. To vote, lawmakers must respond by name. It is mr. McCarthy, Mr. Jeffries — or, if they want to register a sort of protest vote, any name they choose.

Capitol Hill denizens often use the acronym and say the threshold for becoming speaker is 218 votes, or a simple majority. But still It’s not that straightforward: House precedents dictate that a majority vote “per person by name” by members is required to elect a Speaker.

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That is, Mr. Even if McCarthy doesn’t get 218 votes, he can still win the speakership by persuading lawmakers who don’t want to vote for him to vote “for now.”

This is not an uncommon occurrence. In 2015, John Boehner He got 216 votes and was elected as Speaker Nancy Pelosi In 2021.

Mr. If McCarthy can’t get the votes needed to become speaker, lawmakers will go to a second referendum — meaning they’ll have to vote on another roll-call. The The last time this happened was in 1923When the Speaker was elected after nine ballots and feverish behind-the-scenes bargaining.

Since more than one vote is rarely required for the election of the Speaker, there are no modern precedents for managing the chaos that can result. But lawmakers have some clear options.

Mr. If McCarthy fails to win the Speakership on the first ballot, he and his allies will begin horse-trading with rebel lawmakers to try to win their favor on the House floor or in the locker room. Some Republicans privately, Mr. They noted that if McCarthy loses on the first ballot, it will become clear sooner than usual because many lawmakers who voted against him will be called at the beginning of the alphabetical vote.

At the same time, other lawmakers may throw their hats in the ring as possible consensus candidates. Or rank-and-file Republicans, Mr. If it looks like McCarthy can’t get the votes he needs, they can try to get one of their colleagues to run.

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A lawmaker can submit a resolution to the election process that lowers the threshold of votes needed to become Speaker and favors a plurality winner.

Lawmakers can try to take a break from voting and move a motion to adjourn. That would require approval by a majority of 218 votes in the House.

Unless they adjourn, lawmakers must vote until the Speaker is elected.

Of the 120 elections since 1789 for a new Speaker, only 14 have required multiple ballots. According to the Congressional Research Service.

A process that began in 1855 and ended in 1856 – Mr. Banks’ elevation to speakership—by the Office of the House Historian a “Continuous dream.”

The first polls began on a Monday in December 1855, and lawmakers held four votes that day. “Five more on Tuesday, six more on Wednesday, six more on Thursday, six more on Friday, and six more on Saturday” According to the office.

Mr. Banks was not elected until early February 1856, during which time no other congressional business was transacted. Includes a three-hour question-and-answer session for Speaker candidates regarding the spread of slavery to the western territories.

The speaker race ended only after lawmakers, exhausted by marathon voting sessions, approved a resolution that would create a multiparty winner. Mr Banks won by just 103 votes.

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