Storm over the Speaker’s Office

The Story:

The Republicans, as the majority party in the US House of Representatives since January 2023, have had the obligation of selecting a “Speaker of the House,” the presiding officer. This has proven to be an unprecedentedly complicated selection in this term.


In the 2022 elections, the Republicans gained a (small) majority margin in the House. But they could not agree on who among their number should be Speaker. There followed a highly unusual number of ballots (15) before Kevin McCarthy, of California’s 20th district, won the Speaker’s gavel. In the course of these 15 ballots, McCarthy (pictured above) negotiated an agreement with some of the most conservative Republicans, that provided that he could easily be toppled should some members of the party change their minds about him.  And indeed he WAS toppled, in early October of the same year.

The Thing to Know: 

McCarthy’s departure set in motion a very stormy fight over who would replace him. The Republicans voted as a caucus in favor of Steve Scalise on October 11, but he withdrew his name from consideration the following day. The names of Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer rose to prominence and then sank again in the following days. Finally, on October 25, Mike Johnson, of Louisiana’s 4th district, became the new Speaker. This development was a surprise to many: Johnson has no national profile to speak of.


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