Rachel Maddow explained that if Kevin McCarthy or someone else is not elected to be the next Speaker of the House, the new Congress will not start.
Rachel Maddow explained that there is more on the line than embarrassment for Kevin McCarthy:
Maybe more than that and the problem with that isn’t just that, oh, this is embarrassing for Kevin McCarthy and this is going to be a time suck for Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans, oh, this is bad optics, no, if he doesn’t get elected speaker if somebody doesn’t get elected speaker that means there is no congress.
A Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Until someone is elected speaker there isn’t a presiding officer and that means nothing else can happen including swearing in the new members of congress. I mean, on the calendar technically all the new members of congress are supposed to be sworn in tomorrow at noon when the old congress expires.
But if there aren’t enough votes to elect somebody speaker, if there aren’t 218 votes to elect Kevin McCarthy or somebody else to be speaker by that time nobody is getting sworn in. No new congress will start. There will be no House business, no votes, no committees, no nothing until a speaker is chosen. If they don’t get 218 votes when they vote on it, when they take their first ballot tomorrow, the only thing they can keep doing in the congress is just keep taking that vote over and over and over again doing nothing else until someone finally succeeds.
The idea that Republicans are so screwed up that their dysfunction led to there not being a new Congress is mind-blowing. It also sends a power message to the rest of the country that Republicans can’t govern. The gerrymandered midterm that got them their small majority will look like an even bigger black eye if Republicans can’t get their collective act together enough to start the new Congress.
Currently, Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes to be elected speaker. He may never get the votes to be elected speaker, but somebody has to be speaker, or there will be no Congress.
It all sets up for a potentially fascinating and historic day in American politics, as House Republicans may be in the process of sinking to a new low.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association