Will the Real Speaker Please Stand Up?

Ryan Heshmati

October 13, 2023

The Republican party has gotten itself stuck within intra-party division, preventing its ability to recognize its majority in the House of Representatives. After being ousted by Matt Gaetz, who has propelled himself as a loud face for a small, slimy party wing, Kevin McCarthy pointed out the absurdity of the Republicans’ dilemma. “How do you allow 4 percent of the conference to do this to the entire country?” According to many, though, McCarthy set himself up for failure by enabling one representative to trigger a vote to vacate the speakership; however, McCarthy was forced to make concessions as a result of this rebellious unit within his conference and very well may not have even attained the speakership had he not given in to such demands. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise dropped out of the speakership race even after winning an internal party vote because he refused to make the same mistake McCarthy made: Give in. Now, the party continues in disarray.

Scalise dropped out on October 12th after beating Ohio Republican Jim Jordan in a secret ballot vote 113 to 99. The problem came when, even after Jordan announced his intention to support the victor, individual lawmakers, like Lauren Boebert, came out against Scalise, refusing to adhere to the results of the vote. Jordan has the support of former President Trump, and despite winning an October 13th secret ballot vote with 124 votes, the speakership is still vacant. 

Democrats, starting with Gaetz’s motion to vacate, have chosen to let Republicans fight amongst each other. Hakeem Jerries, House Minority Leader, urged the need for bipartisanship on October 13th, but he was one of 208 Democrats who voted to oust Former Speaker McCarthy in the first place, setting the current series of events in motion. Of course, it is not particularly surprising that the Democrats supported McCarthy’s removal. After all, McCarthy had decided to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, which did not win him any favor with Democrats.

A great deal of concern surrounds who the speaker will be, but there should also be genuine, urgent fear about how they will navigate the impending government shutdown, with a deadline in November. Further, with global challenges facing the United States, how will McCarthy’s replacement work with the White House on the foreign policy end? 

At this moment, it remains unclear how the Republicans’ debacle will resolve. Jim Jordan’s prospects could fizzle away like Scalise's, or he could become McCarthy’s successor. Regardless of who the next speaker is, though, it is evident that they will have a lot of work to do once they get the job.